Last year, I talked about surviving a sports team loss. I said that when your team loses a big game, it feels like there is a death in the family. Well, last weekend I experienced the polar opposite — a huge win. Which, according to the above comparison, should feel like I just had a kid.
We’ll just scrap that analogy for now.
I went to Happy Valley to see Penn State play Ohio State in one of the biggest games of Joe Paterno’s life (which is saying a lot, since he’s like 122 years old.) Night game, thousands of people, a little rain, a lot of booze, complete mayhem. For the past six years, being a Penn State football fan was the sports equivalent of being in Abu Ghraib. In one fell swoop last Saturday, I got to see my all-time favorite sports team completely rejuvenate its players, coaches, fans and legacy, erasing six years of sports torture. Not only that, but I also experienced college for the first time, despite being in college for over three years.
At the tailgate, I noticed some similarities to Yale — namely, the preponderance of blue and white and t-shirts that made fun of the other team (my personal favorite was the one that said “Buck the F**keyes.” Not bad for a state school).
But the similarities stopped there. I could walk around with my open beer (gasp) with no repercussions. There were beer bongs, kegs, and grain alcohol; there was food throwing, beer throwing, you name it, all without police interruption.
Because the authorities knew that 90 minutes before kickoff, the parking lots would empty faster than Lindsay Lohan’s stomach after a McDonald’s binge.
So what’s the lesson for the Ivy League administrators? If you want to curb dangerous levels of drinking at our tailgates, you should stop making rules that guarantee athletic mediocrity. Then, the tailgate will no longer be the main event and people will want to go to the games. Problem solved.
(Do Ivy administrators realize that over 109,000 people were at the PSU game? That means over five million dollars in ticket sales alone — not that Yale cares about money …)
*cough* David Swensen getting more publicity than Paris Hilton *cough*.
So, for the first time in the past four years, I was at a college football game where the game was more important than the tailgate. What a novel idea.
But my amazement didn’t stop at the tailgate. I was overwhelmed by all of the strange proceedings of real college students at a real game.
Like Jane Goodall with her chimps, I took note of the interesting behavior I observed:
You could yell things like “Smith beats his girlfriend” or “You suck” or “Hawk is a pedophile” without worrying about some greasy security guard threatening to throw you out.
Fans knew not to cheer when the home team was on offense.
The halftime show wasn’t as funny as an Ivy League halftime show. Not that anyone cares.
My favorite observation was that, instead of little pockets of people doing residential college cheers, the entire stadium chanted for their team in unison.
Not one dorm chant was heard the entire time.
Not one “safety school” chant.
Not one “school on Monday” chant.
Granted, it’s unfair to compare an Ivy League game to a Big Ten game. But, according to “Remedial Media with Zac and Mike” from the Rumpus, my metaphors are worse than Tina Fey’s poop. And as we all learned in fourth grade English class, metaphors are a fancy way to make a comparison, which means my comparison skills must not be too good, which means I’m allowed to compare Yale to Penn State.
My logic isn’t too good either.
(Speaking of these Zac and Mike characters, I don’t know what’s more embarrassing for them — the fact that they defended Tina Fey’s writing or the fact that they “write” for the Rumpus.)
Back to the Yale-Penn State thing. Yes, being at the game last weekend was surreal, and seeing Troy Smith fumble on that last play was better (just barely) than walking around Yale last Nov. 3. But I can’t help but be a little depressed that I will graduate college without experiencing what hundreds of thousands of other undergrads get to experience on a weekly basis. Every weekend, they can forget about section (if they even have it), books, classes and politics and get wasted and belligerent and yell obscenities in unison — cheering together for a common cause.
Once a week they get to act like Ted Kennedy.
Think of all the stress relieved: no wonder Yalies are so high-strung.
So, because of this game, my biggest fear reared its head — if this Yale thing doesn’t help me become rich, powerful, famous, or some combo of the three, then I made a terrible, terrible life choice.
Because let’s face it, I’m not here to learn.
I’m sure there are some weirdos here that aren’t concerned about money and power and just came to Yale for the intellectual challenge. But even nerds get to experience incredible athletics. See: Duke, Stanford, Northwestern, Notre Dame. I mean, come on, even Johns Hopkins, the most depressing school in the country, has a top-tier sport (although, that sport is lacrosse, which could be why they are so depressed in the first place).
So why not us? Why did the Ivy Group decide to ruin its students’ lives by de-emphasizing athletics?
Until I find the answer, I’ll just have to pray for more Penn State wins and take solace in the fact that Yale makes funnier shirts.
Carl Williott yearns for the thrills of Big Ten football, but adores the “Yale” on his resume.