April 28, 2009

Bleeding Big Red … And Krug and Cuvee

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I was going to start this column differently. I was going to start this column with a GO BIG RED! With a happy exclamation and gold stars all around. And then, predictably, just when I had readied the celebratory poppers and had the Krug Grande Cuvée on ice, (Which wasn’t cheap, by the way. I blew $350 on that bottle, and I highly doubt I’m going to be able to return it!) a certain Big Red sports team lost! Ouch. It took some time, but I feel I have now recovered sufficiently, with a little help from my friends Krug and Cuvée, of course and I will now attempt to transcribe from memory the column I was going to run before Saturday, aka “the Big Red Disappointment.”
Cornell, I really hope you’re all out there listening right now, because I have something to say that is so earth shattering, I know it’s just going to knock your red and grey stripy socks off:
Cornell University is actually good at sports.
Gasp! What’s that you say? I must have misspoke, surely! That’s absurd, everybody knows we’re terrible at everything athletic … right? We’re, like, totally focused on our academics, dude.
Yes, we are very focused on our A’s and B’s here in Ithaca, but we also excel at, like, a lot of sports. Our men’s hockey team is consistently near the top of its conference, and has been for a while now. That’s what all those fun little banners hanging in Lynah mean. Yeah, yeah, we all know we have a pretty good hockey team, right? Ok, well, I’ll go on, then. Our men’s basketball team has now won back-to-back Ivy crowns, and our women’s team won one last year as well. Oh, already knew that one, too? Ok, well, I guess I’ll just keep going then.
Our wrestling team has not lost an Ivy title in eight years. That means we’ve been dominating the Ancient Eight since the majority of you were in grade school. We were also No. 2 in the country this year going into the NCAAs. For those of you currently scoffing into your lattes— yes, it is a sport, and yes, a remarkable number of people care about it. People from such behemoth universities as Iowa, Michigan, Missouri and Penn State — do you know how many undergrads attend Penn State? More than three times as many as attend Cornell. And we outranked the Nittany Lions by ten places this year. I’m sorry, but that’s impressive. We also have a national champion in junior Troy Nickerson. Last year, we had one in senior Jordan Leen. Can somebody say powerhouse?
But I digress. In addition, our gymnastics team just won a national title. Yes, we are No. 1 in the country. Yep. Our women’s polo team was also ranked the best team in the country going into the NCAAs, while our men were No. 3. Our all-female fencing team is consistently stellar, even while competing in invitationals against teams consisting of both men and women.
Of course, you wouldn’t know we even have mediocre teams according to our attendance reports. Yes, I know we’re all very busy, important people, with fancy bubbly in the fridge and Louis satchels on every door knob, but really, you don’t have two hours to support your home team? I know this might be hard to believe as well, but athletic events can actually be quite enjoyable. Make that very enjoyable if you throw in a good tailgate or two.
I attend sporting events mostly for the jumbo pretzels, but also because I value the entertainment value, as well as the prestige good clubs bring my alma mater. You can act as snobby as you want, but if you care to ever peer down from your ivory tower you’ll realize that schools like Stanford and Duke — institutions of higher learning that are in fact considered better than we are according to the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings — work very , very hard to maintain excellence in both academics and athletics, and that support is echoed by the legions of loyal fans and for that matter alumni, who bleed Crimson, or Blue Devil Blue etc.
So while I’m not going to get into the debate of why Ivy League schools are at a disadvantage in terms of athletic recruiting, I would just like to advocate for once on the side of the athletics department. Please, Cornell, support your school. Come to the occasional football or lacrosse or volleyball or wrestling or … well, I could go on, because, guess what, we have 36 different varsity teams. 36! Remember Baskin-Robbins, well, we have five more teams than they had flavors, and you would be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t like that selection.
And I’m sorry, guys, there’s no prize at the end of this rainbow, nothing you can list on your resume or expound upon in an interview with Lehmans Bros. Unless, of course, you consider school pride and respect for your alma mater a prize. No? No takers? Oh, well, at least I tried. More champagne for me! Oh, and happy birthday, Emily!