If the past two years of Yale sports have seemed a bit uninspiring to you, then you might need to get your standards more in line with those of Quagmire (“I felt guilty once, but she woke up halfway through”), instead of with those of Lloyd Banks (“If I don’t hit the first night, I ain’t gonna call her”). The expectation adjustment process is what life is all about sometimes. Either “Alien vs. Predator” was the worst excuse for a movie ever, or it was bad, but not quite as horrid as “Inspector Gadget.” It’s all in how you look at things.
I have a lot of respect for the athletes here. Like all other students, they have to dedicate a disproportionate amount of time to their activity of choice. The difference with sports is that the results are cut-and-dried and perfectly evident for all to see. If an a cappella singer hits a B flat instead of a B, it’s not quite as flagrantly bad as a team losing a game, despite the fact that neither accomplished the aim for which they spend all that time practicing.
It’s not fair to make a blanket statement that every Yale team has been a disappointment over the past couple of years. Despite the overall malaise, several teams (women’s soccer and women’s lacrosse two years ago, as well as women’s squash last year) and all sorts of individuals have undoubtedly achieved some incredible feats. But on the whole, Yale has recently had a lot more success with sustainable foods than with sustained results on the field and interest among fans.
Maybe my perspective is skewed, but when I arrived on campus, the fall after the men’s basketball team’s run to the Ivy League title, the fan base seemed galvanized, and the atmosphere was noticeably more optimistic. At the time, people marked that season as the turning point, not only in terms of drawing fans to the Amphitheater, but in terms of generating a more consistent appeal over the entire spectrum. But just as sure as Stacie J. is the next Omarosa on this year’s “Apprentice,” those predictions fell flat.
As I once suggested, one of the real problems has been that the most visible sports have lost almost all of their marquee home games recently, most in a gut-wrenchingly, soul-crushingly painful fashion. At the games that people are going to attend regardless of how the team is doing, a win here or there would go a long way toward assuring the crowd that the ensuing game is less desolate than Olde Blue on Thursday nights this year. Either that, or we could start requesting forfeits like a certain shook baseball team. I think the win would be more beneficial — and less terrible.
The inspired start of the women’s soccer team might be a harbinger of better things to come this year across the board. Since Yale only observes the holidays it deems worthy, and, consequently, we had class on Labor Day, I figured we’re all owed some sort of holiday reprieve. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a little wish list for the impending year of Yale sports, in the hopes that, like the kid at the very end of “Animal House” who has the girl from the parade float fly through his window, something miraculous might make some of these come to fruition.
¥ For football to beat Harvard. Three consecutive losses in the year’s seminal athletic event have put a damper on the festivities at The Game. Cheering “School on Monday” loses its luster after a while, especially if the team is down on the scoreboard. If this contest has Ivy championship ramifications, which it will if either of the teams can take out Penn earlier in the season, it will be even more imperative for Yale to pull out a win. You can put a smiley face on the whole year if the Harvard-Yale game finally breaks our way, and since very, very few current undergrads have experienced victory in this one, one in the win column would be even sweeter.
¥ For fans to make it into football games from the tailgates.
¥ For a post-season tournament appearance for any of the following teams: men’s or women’s soccer, lacrosse, basketball, hockey, volleyball, baseball or softball. Women’s soccer and women’s lacrosse made it two years ago; men’s soccer just missed out last year, and we all know the story of men’s hoops from 2001-02. At least one of these teams getting a crack at a post-season berth this year doesn’t seem too far-fetched. But then again, neither did the idea of Fox getting rid of “Scooter,” the abominable talking baseball monstrosity. So you never know.
¥ For there to be a coaching controversy. Unless the coach is upwardly mobile, Ivy League coaching positions are cushy, lifetime gigs. If a team is consistently underachieving, maybe a shake-up at the helm wouldn’t be the worst thing. I know the coaches here are handicapped by the recruiting restrictions, but still, they shouldn’t be allowed to operate with impunity.
¥ For “the P” to be for “the P” in “Shut up.”
¥ For men’s basketball to beat Brown. Three years in a row, an underdog Brown team has come to New Haven and beaten Yale to open the Ivy League season. Someone smart moved the second Brown game to the end of the season this year, saving us the ignominy of opening 0-2 with consecutive losses to the Bears for a third year running, but it’s the first game that’s really going to set the tone for them in January.
¥ For the spotlight to shine on another sport that rarely sees it. (Track? Golf? Stiles intramurals?)
¥ Finally, for Yale to get a less ridiculous mascot than that blue thing. I’d take Captain America over that blue thing any day. Eleven billion dollars is a tad more than I have in my piggy bank. Screw Beinecke Plaza. Let’s see that put to good use.