An empty Bowl: no football for parents

In a break with Yale tradition, there will be no football home game this Parents’ Weekend.

“I have been here nine years, and there has always been a home game on Parents’ Weekend,” athletic director Tom Beckett said.

Yale administrators select the date for Parents’ Weekend the prior spring. But the football schedule forms years in advance — often five to 10 years ahead, said Barbara Chesler, associate director of varsity sports.

“We don’t put the football schedule on top of Parents’ Weekend,” Beckett said. “Parents’ Weekend is put on top of the football schedule.”

Football coach Jack Siedlecki recalled how he first found out the team would be away this weekend.

“We usually schedule a JV game on the Sunday of Parents’ Weekend,” Siedlecki said. “But last spring when we called, we found out we would be away at Dartmouth.”

Instead, this Parents’ Weekend will include Yale’s first-ever Midnight Madness, a fan-oriented kickoff to the basketball season. The event will begin tonight at 11 p.m. with contests and prize-giveaways, followed at midnight by the men’s and women’s basketball teams’ first practice sessions of the year.

“Oct. 12 is the first day that practice is permitted,” said Steve Conn, Yale’s director of sports publicity. “There have been midnight practices, but we never had a promotional event.”

But the timing of this new event and the lack of a home football game is entirely coincidental, according to Yale administrators.

Patrick O’Neill, athletic marketing assistant, said Midnight Madness was not at all intended to replace the home football game.

“[Midnight Madness] had nothing to do with Parents’ Weekend,” O’Neill said. “The basketball team had great success last year, so we decided to kick off the season with Midnight Madness. This idea was kicked around during the offseason.”

Yet certain aspects of the year’s first basketball practice session will involve parental participation.

“It became geared toward parents, with such promotional events as a parents’ free throw contest,” O’Neill said.

Some parents of football players have questioned the scheduling.

“150 kids are away this weekend, and I have parents calling me, wondering why they won’t be able to see their kids,” Siedlecki said.

Some students expressed dissatisfaction with the elimination of the Parents’ Weekend home game.

“It sucks, because my family and I always go to the game this weekend,” Dave Gimbel ’03 said. “I don’t know what we are going to do now.”

Even parents were surprised by the lack of a game.

Bryan Hartenberg ’06, whose father was in the Class of ’72, said, “My dad was [complaining] that there was no home game on Parents’ Weekend. Ever since he could remember there was always a home game.”

But while the football team has no home game, other sports will compete locally. All three crew programs will participate in the Head of the Housatonic Regatta in Derby. And the men’s and women’s rugby clubs both have home games Saturday.

“I play rugby, and that’s what’s important to me,” Lauren Mangini ’03 said. “I really don’t care about the football game.”

Yale President Richard Levin said he knew nothing about the scheduling arrangement for Parents’ Weekend and the football team. Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg and University Secretary Linda Lorimer could not be reached for comment.

“It was a scheduling fluke,” Beckett said.

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