As the academic year draws to a close, you might want to consider the meaning of your education. Some of you probably think it has been fulfilling and worthwhile, while others might argue it has been a waste of time and about nothing.
Keeping these contrary outlooks in mind as I sat down to write my final column, I mulled the obvious choices for the topic.
Best Yale sports moments? Fellow columnist Dan Fleschner beat me to it on Monday. My hopes for Yale athletics in the future? I addressed that two years ago in the graduation issue, and besides, the topic has been played out.
Perhaps I should come up with another angle on a professional sports topic, as I have attempted to do many times this year. Among the possibilities are the NFL draft, the NBA rules changes and the usual baseball chatter. You know the drill.
But nothing really captured my imagination.
I even considered reviewing sports Web sites, only because I saw so many of them as I attempted to come up with ideas to spark my “creativity.” I was going to start by making fun of the idiotic polls all the sites use now. Examples include, “If you were A-Rod, would you have a) Stayed in Seattle? or b) Laughed all the way to the bank?” or “Are you a believer in the Cubs yet? a) Yes, they’re for real! or b) Wake me up in September!” Talk about a lame final column.
It’s too bad I couldn’t muse about my favorite Yale sports moments from the past few years. I would have loved to have relived one more time the epic, title-clinching victory the Bulldogs produced against Harvard in front of more than 50,000 people at the Yale Bowl in November 1999. The look on Athletics Director Tom Beckett’s face afterwards was priceless. And I still can’t believe that the basketball team beat Princeton here in both 1999 and 2000.
I even could have focused solely on this past year, when heartbreak seemed to be the main theme. The football team’s Ivy League title defense looked promising seven games into the season, but an embarrassing defeat at Brown and a last-second stumble against Princeton derailed the dream. The men’s basketball squad had the Big Dance on its mind entering the campaign’s final weekend, but three losses brought the season to a grinding halt. Disappointment seeped through to the men’s hockey program as well, as the Bulldogs appeared to carry momentum into the playoffs before being ousted by the most unsavory of victors, archrival Harvard.
Maybe I should have written about the worst Yale sports moments in the recent past, such as the entire 1997 football season. Before the Princeton game, this newspaper raised the question of whether that year’s team was the worst squad in Yale football history. I’m sure such candor helped provide motivation for the Elis to drive them to a second-place finish the next year.
Speaking of bad sports memories, I must admit that I am one of the only News sports columnists never to have ripped former men’s basketball coach Dick Kuchen in the paper. I’ll try to keep my record intact.
And I probably would have had a lot to say about my hopes for Yale sports in the future. Higher attendance at games, a consistent Ivy League title contender in the three major sports and an NCAA men’s basketball tournament appearance would have topped my list. (Please don’t laugh out loud.)
Then there’s the NFL draft, where Mel Kiper Jr. gets to be Dick Vitale for a day, and some obsessed fans actually stay inside when the weather is finally getting nice just to see who the Bengals choose in the fifth round.
Or the rules changes instituted by the NBA, which believes it can encourage more offense by allowing zone defenses. The media is still trying to sort through that one.
And, of course, who could forget baseball? Barry Bonds is preparing to join the 500 home run club, the Yankees-Red Sox battles have demonstrated the brilliance of the unbalanced, division-focused schedule, and the Twins are the game’s most surprising team thus far. I could have promised that, if the Twins were to win the 2001 American League pennant, I would run around downtown Minneapolis in boxer shorts in December.
I could have droned on about any one of those topics in my final hurrah. Instead, I decided to pull a poor man’s Seinfeld and write a column about nothing.
It’s amazing what you can do with a bunch of nothing.