SOBOTKA: Put your game face on

I am sick and tired of being able to spread out in the bleachers at the Yale Bowl.

At a time when pockets of our university are seemingly ablaze with activism — ranging from student-run voter drives to campus-wide emails demanding student representation in the presidential search — I want to propose enacting change that everyone can stand behind. It is fun, builds school spirit and unity, and won’t take up too much of your precious time.

It is time to change Yale athletics for the better. The way to make this change is simple. Show up to sporting events and prove we care.

I’m not going to use this space to try and convince you why this university needs to redouble its efforts to improve our athletic teams and support the dedication and success of those athletes already on campus. Other columnists have made that case, convincingly, I would argue.

There are lots of ways that we can go about trying to effect change to athletics policy. We can push the presidential search route: fill out surveys, file complaints and requests with intermediaries and email Ed Bass ’67 ARC ’72 with some sort of hope that our voices will be heard. We can lament to our friends that our administrators need to let in more athletes and put more of an emphasis on athletics. But I have doubts about the efficacy of these methods. A single voice can fade away, but the roar of a crowd echoes and lingers.

If we want Yale Bulldogs in all sports to take trophies and glory away from our rivals in Cambridge and Princeton, there’s really only one thing we students can do: fill the stands with our bodies and the air with our voices.

As it stands, attendance at most sporting events — with contests against Harvard and many hockey games as notable exceptions — is paltry, and that might be too nice of a description. The message that these empty seats send to the administration is one that they have clearly heard: we don’t care about sports, so they shouldn’t either. We don’t care if we win, go undefeated or winless, so they won’t care. We don’t need to change athletic policy here, so they shouldn’t.

If we want better teams, we need to show our administrators that we want to be able to wear a Yale “insert-sport-here” t-shirt with pride, light up scoreboards and support teams in championship games and NCAA tournaments. We need to show up.

Even if you don’t care about athletic policy, show up. Your friends are the ones on the field. Your classmates, suitemates, study buddies, Big Sibs and romantic interests are there. Each time they put on a Yale jersey, they represent us — each time we take the time to be Yale fans, we represent them. We can help validate their 8 a.m. lifts, missed meals and long bus rides.

Show some school spirit. Paint your face. Lose your voice. You’re not just a student; you’re a Yale student.

Make time for each team, whether they’re on a winning streak or whether they’re stuck in last place. Break the vicious cycle of fair-weather fandom. Cheer so loudly that you make some noise in Woodbridge Hall. And, as you’ll learn, it’s really fun to be in the middle of a rowdy, shouting mass. Your heart fills with pride when we score a goal, it sinks when we miss that crucial first down by inches. There’s an unbeatable camaraderie that exists, even if temporarily, within a group united in support of the blue and white.

That sense of community alone won’t convince the administration to change their athletics-suppressing policies, but it will send the message that we students really do care, that we want to see change.

Andrew Sobotka is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College. Contact him at .


  • The Anti-Yale

    “If we want Yale Bulldogs in all sports to take trophies and glory away from our rivals”

    Is sports a kind of therapy for aggressive anti-social behavior, a type of catharsis?

    Or is sports an apprenticeship for the ritualized violence societies call “War”?

    I was appalled to watch the American General in charge of Afghanistan on “60 Minutes” the other night as he was interviewed about the increased numbers of our soldiers being killed by the very Afghans we are training to defend their own country.

    These are his words’. “We certainly don’t want our soldiers to be murdered.”

    As if WE weren’t murdering others in Afhanistan ourselves? !

    St Augustine’s “Just War” has been an excuse for soaking the planet in the blood of young men for centuries, millions in the last century alone.

    There is no “Just War”. There is only murder.

    “Thou shalt not kill.”

    Play sports instead—-and wind up with traumatic brain injury.

    • LtwLimulus90

      Sports aren’t war. 99.999% of athletes don’t end their careers with “traumatic brain injuries”. Your comments on athletics, which you admit you know nothing about, are ridiculous, petty, and uninformed. Please stop spewing your garbage in the ‘comments’ section of articles about athletics and stick to stuff you actually understand.

    • carlinist

      While certainly respecting you opinion, please stop. Take your buzzkill of an opinion somewhere else. We all understand how well read you are, and that you’re obviously the smartest person who’s ever graced Yale’s campus. You’re the ultimate anti. You’re no fun. You’re clearly the greatest hipster of all time because, hey, you’re the anti.

      Why don’t you try playing a sport before you decide that they’re the worst thing to ever happen to the world. Sobotka’s right. Sports invoke pride, and maybe if Yalies could buy into that, we’d have a better aura around campus.

  • River_Tam

    > our rivals in Cambridge and Princeton

    Princeton doesn’t matter.

  • blt233

    Such a prime example of a first world problem.

    • LtwLimulus90

      As are most of the things that concern Yale students and that are written about in this paper. Get over it

  • The Anti-Yale

    Definitely a First World problem which apprentices First World males to be First World soldiers who kill Second World and Third World humans.

  • sonofmory

    great article! thank you!

    PK – i really don’t see women’s lacrosse or squash as an apprenticeship for war. You do know there are other sports out there than football, right? sports are the opposite of anti-social – teams gather to share emotional highs and lows and no activity gathers as many alumni as the football game against harvard. Whether you agree with what is going on on the field, there is a reason that 60,000+ people get excited about the outcome – and they can’t all be wrong. maybe you are.

  • The Anti-Yale


    But is there a Yale Squash Bowl?

    Is there a “THE Game” for other Yale sports besides football?

    College’s and universities in general seem to be mindlessly identified with this brain-damaging money garnering sport.