After two years as a writer, one year as an editor, and these last seven months as a columnist, these 850-odd words represent my final appearance in the pages of the Yale Daily News. I’m not about to tell you just how much time I’ve spent with this organization, but suffice it to say that it feels exceedingly strange to be leaving it. So on this page, as my term as a YDN columnist comes to a close, I’d like to wrap things up with a few thank-yous.

First, an admission: I’m obsessed with Yale athletes.

I’ve been elbowed by friends in the dining hall to get me to stop staring at teams sitting nearby. I’ve given off stalker vibes by introducing myself to athletes whenever possible, and then ranting about their last three games. One time last year, I congratulated Helen Resor for making the U.S. Olympic hockey team as I walked by her on the street. The only problem is, I don’t know Helen, and so I managed to provoke an extremely confused “Who the hell was that?!?” look.

On the most basic level, this comes down to respect for top-rate athletic performance. Yeah, I know this isn’t USC, but anyone who doesn’t go to football games because of that is an idiot. Yale athletes are real athletes, oftentimes kids who got recruited to schools with high-level programs but came here for the same reasons us non-athletes did — it’s Yale. We get reminded of this from time to time, like when Alex Righi manages to whoop on swimmers from huge D-I programs or Lauren Taylor gets nominated for national lacrosse awards, but it gets forgotten all too often. When you watch Yale athletics, you’re watching real sports.

But it’s not just that Yale athletes are good. A-Rod’s pretty good, too. The difference is I can’t talk to him in the dining hall on Sunday night.

David Halberstam, an exceptional journalist and human being who was killed in a car crash earlier this week, believed that sports in this country reflect our values and culture. I couldn’t agree more. We deride steroid use because we want the children of America to understand that cheating is wrong, and that hard work is the key to success. We play Little League so that we can learn teamwork.

At Yale, with athletes in my seminars, my entryway and my dining hall, I get to commune daily with people who play a huge role in shaping my values. I get a lift from Matt Kyle growing into his role as the basketball team’s big man, and then I get to play IM volleyball with him. I see Lindsay Collins (the aforementioned elbow bringing me back to reality in the dining hall) making the field hockey All-Ivy squad — again — and realize I can’t complain about how tough the MB&B major is, because she’s doing it too, but after 5 a.m. lift.

Apologies to my other friends who play Yale sports, and the whole lot of other athletes for whom this applies — there’s not a lot of space here. But know that you inspire and motivate me daily, and I know I’m not alone.

The second thank you goes out to my classmates.

The most pained I’ve ever felt at Yale came on November 19, 2005, when Harvard came back to win The Game in triple overtime. My biggest high came one year later, on November 18, 2006, when the Eli faithful stormed the Crimson field.

Those two days weren’t about just my emotions; I have never felt as close to the Yale student body as I did those two days. In joy and in sorrow, hipsters and jocks and nerds alike cheered and cursed, all in response to what was happening on 100 yards of turf. To me, that is what Yale is all about: Egalitarianism, everyone on an even playing field (it’s my last column, indulge the pun). We all make each others’ experiences here more meaningful, so I owe those screaming masses on Harvard’s 50-yard-line for making my experience of Yale special.

Finally, particularly special thanks go out to those of you out there who have stuck with me this whole year. The bottom line is that I did this because I love talking about sports, and I’ve been talking to you. This space has allowed me to think and voice my thoughts, and as far as I know, there are a couple of you out there listening. You’ve made me realize that I want to be talking about sports for the rest of my life. How and when that happens is unclear, seeing as there’s some guy at a desk in New York who owns me for at least next year, but this has been too much fun for me to be done for good.

Alright, that’s all I’ve got. Thanks again for the support, good luck with finals, congrats to 2007, and I’d better see all of you next November. Boola Boola!

Dan Adler is a senior in Pierson and a former sports editor for the News.