September 16, 2010

End of The Line

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Although The Sun’s daily readership extends to nearly 24,000 people across several different mediums, I would like to direct today’s column at the roughly 3,300 underclassmen on campus that may never have the chance to partake in one of Cornell’s most iconic traditions.

By now I am sure that most of you have heard about, read or even partaken in The Sun’s list of 161 things to do at Cornell (if you haven’t, I suggest you catch up at Like most things associated with the University, this list has proven to be an immense challenge for any Cornellian. Nonetheless, the list helps to define who we are as students at a University where the improbable is asked of us every single day.

As of Sept. 13, however, the improbable has become simply impossible and the list may never again be completed in its entirety. The reason? Just a couple of days ago, the University decided to remove the line process that has forever defined the selection of men’s hockey season tickets at Cornell. As a result, you can go ahead and scratch No. 3, “Camp out overnight (re: sleep on AstroTurf) for hockey tickets,” and any other semblance of the age-old tradition off the list.

I reach out to you, underclassmen, because you were never given the opportunity to experience “The Line” for yourselves; after an outbreak of swine flu forced the University to postpone the process last fall, this is now the second straight year that students are forced to purchase tickets in a sophisticated, well-mannered way –– and for that, I pity you.

Hockey has long been Cornell’s proudest and most distinguished sport, and its fans have been equally as influential. This is particularly noteworthy considering the lack of any other significant fan base on campus.

Despite being presented with a Sweet 16 men’s basketball team, an ECAC Champion men’s hockey team and national-champion runners up teams in wrestling, women’s hockey and men’s lacrosse in recent years, Cornell fans have never truly established an all-encompassing culture of fanhood.­

The Lynah Faithful, however, is the exception.­­

For years, Lynah Rink has been regarded as one of the most intimidating road environments in college hockey, and its fans have been regarded as some of the most intimidating spectators. The Lynah Faithful is known not only for its gameday antics and enthusiasm, but also for its dedication prior to the start of the season; for decades students have been asked to wait in lines for up to 20 hours in order to get their hands on tickets, and for decades students have happily obliged. It is this process, one’s “time in The Line,” that has defined Cornell hockey fans over the years, and it is this same process that, as of Sept. 13, may never happen again.

I remember my first experience as a “prospective” member of the Faithful. On a Saturday night in October, just two days before my first-ever Cornell prelim (Psych 101 –– No. 9 on the list of 161), a few friends and I entered the Ramin Room in Bartels Hall anticipating to find a few sleeping bodies and others quietly awaiting the time to receive their tickets. What we found was something completely different; TVs lined the walls, air mattresses covered the floor and the smell of take-out filled the room. In fact, some people were living in such luxury (someone taped a bed sheet to the wall to act as a screen for his projection TV and Xbox), that “The Line” resembled just another night in the dorm more so than a test of one’s will and dedication.

Twenty hours, 300 pages of Psych reading and three Domino’s 5-5-5 deals later, though, and I can rightfully say that being in The Line was no walk in the park. Nonetheless, it was one of the most worthwhile experiences I have thus far had at school.

More than being one of the most unique Saturday nights one can have at Cornell, the time in The Line serves as a rite of passage for members of the Lynah Faithful, and it is this process that has helped create some of the best hockey fans in college sports today.

Sure, we throw fish at our Harvard rivals, yell “Sieve!” at opposing goalies and are downright obnoxious to anyone not wearing red and white, but what really defines the Lynah Faithful is the camaraderie between individuals as friends, fans and most importantly, survivors of The Line.

I am not writing to discourage fans from joining the Lynah Faithful, but rather to inspire them to do so. The Line has forever served as a reminder to each and every fan of the level of devotion and passion needed to be a dedicated member of the Lynah Faithful, and it can continue to serve this role despite its absence. As long as new generations of Cornellians are informed and inspired, The Line will continue to be the binding force that brings together some of the best hockey fans in the world.

Original Author: Dan Froats