September 4, 2009

School Spirit Is Now Acceptable; See You in the Stands

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For the past two weeks, the pages of the Cornell Daily Sun have been saturated with columnists eagerly offering unsolicited advice to bright-eyed, bushy-tailed freshmen: Explore Ithaca. Don’t stress. Don’t drink. Don’t think about the future. Think about the future. Smile more. Succeed at sex without really trying.
It’s all fascinating advice, and it’s all based on the absurd notion that the smiling mug shots in this publication know better than you, the reader, how to live your life.
So I’m going to add one more nugget of unqualified advice to the clamor:
Go to a Cornell sporting event and cheer on your team.
Even if you don’t understand sports, can’t tell a puck from a point guard, whatever — it’s still one of the best ways to spend 2 1/2 hours in this soon-to-be-winter wonderland.
Whenever someone tells me that they’ve never been to a game, they usually say it smirking with some sort of cynical half-pride, as if this is still high school and school spirit is still reserved solely for the tool cabinet that makes up student government in grades 9-12. They say it as if they’ve had better things to do every single Friday and Saturday evening of their college lives, which is probably untrue.
We obviously don’t attend UCLA or Florida or any other athletic powerhouse. No one wearing a Red jersey is going to be the Jets’ starting quarterback his first year out of college. No professional franchise is gambling its No. 1 overall draft pick on the hopes that a 6-10, 250 pound man-beast of a Cornellian will turn the team’s fortunes around. Still, junior hockey player Riley Nash might skate his way into an Edmonton Oilers sweater before you know it, and Kevin Boothe ’06 helped the New York Giants topple the Belichick/Brady reign of terror and videotape in Super Bowl XLII.
So yeah, they’ve got a few moves.
But regardless of wins and losses, going to games can only add one more dimension to a college experience that will be as multifaceted and dynamic as you make it. Almost every Cornellian can say he or she pulled all-nighters in Uris library, took a nap on the arts quad, got drunk on Slope Day — the usual nuts and bolts of a Big Red experience. Not everyone will be lucky enough to recall hurling fish onto the ice before the Harvard hockey game (which is getting harder and harder, thanks to Lynah Rink’s airport-caliber security measures). A select few will remember mobbing the hardwood floors of Newman Arena when the men’s basketball team clinches the Ivy League title. And since misery loves company, you’ll always have a special connection with the fellows who huddled around the TV with you and felt their stomachs knot as Syracuse completed the comeback of the century to take the lacrosse national championship. Okay, that will probably never happen again. But the point is, you never know what you might see — tragedy, comedy and everything in between — and the memories you might make.
See you in the stands.