On a beautiful Tuesday, I sat in the stands of an 89-year-old stone baseball stadium. I gazed at the base of the diamond before a loud crack sent a ball whizzing through the air. The ball soared over the wall, and the scoreboard flashed: 9–0. The crowd went wild, but the stadium remained quiet; only a few people filled the stands at the 2017 Ivy League Championship at Historic Yale Field.
A few hours after that homer, the Bulldogs hoisted the 2017 Ivy League title trophy. Yet not many Yalies were there to see it. The stadium was barren because of neither a lack of school pride, nor the distance from our campus to the field. Instead, the seats stood empty because the game was played on May 16, more than two weeks after Yale students’ last final exam.
Likewise, the Yale men’s lacrosse team did not defeat Brown in the league championship until May 7, a game time smack in the middle of finals — my editor, Matthew Stock ’18, watched the second half of that game from the Law School Library as part of a prolonged “study break.”
And the Ivy League women’s track and field championships, an event we hosted at our own Dewitt Cuyler Field, did not race until May 6 and 7. The women’s crew team took home bronze at their own Ivy League Championship in Camden, New Jersey, but didn’t race until May 14, well after Yale students had already left New Haven for Myrtle Beach.
All three of these events are events for which our students would surely have filled the bleachers in their own backyard or taken a short bus ride to support their friends and classmates. But instead, the spring sports seasons ran too late, denying Yalies the opportunities to see their teams win titles.
There seems to be three readily available solutions to this problem: spring sports’ schedules could be condensed, abridged or advanced. While each solution poses a few problems of their own, each could apply to at least one spring sports team.
If seasons were condensed, athletes would run a higher risk of injuries in already dense schedules. The baseball team, for instance, played a preposterously excessive 52 games last year. The women’s track and field team, though, raced only twice during the academic week. Could it possibly have a few more meets starting on Mondays or Thursdays? You might be thinking that track meets typically span a few days, and thus, Yale students would miss classes. But on the contrary, most of its meets took place on single days of competition.
If seasons are shortened, teams can’t eliminate league games, and would thus have to pare down their non-conference slates. Typically, in the Ivy League, reducing non-conference games — thereby limiting exposure to potentially better teams and the possibility of an important victory — would limit the Ancient Eight teams’ chances of earning at-large bids to national tournaments.
For lacrosse, where the Ivy League remains one of the strongest conferences in Division I, two teams qualified for the 16-team tournament in 2016 and three in 2015. Since Ivy League lacrosse teams do not rely as heavily on nonconference success to make their mark on the national stage, abridging nonconference schedules could be a viable solution. And, in the case of baseball, where the only feasible means of reaching the NCAA tournament is through an Ivy League title, it still feels a bit excessive to play 32 non-conference games — 12 more than league ones.
If the seasons began earlier in the year, the weather poses problems. Most rivers would be frozen, slightly more than inconveniencing our rowers; they’re strong, but not quite row-through-ice strong. If crew is a two-season sport, though, why do our rowers only race twice in the fall? Could they not get some of their races out of the way in August, September and more in October? Track and field, on the other hand, could reasonably start in late February. After all, the English Premier League runs right through the winter.
After final exams, the vast majority of our students are literally kicked out of their rooms, which makes going to a championship two weeks after finals logistically infeasible. For the sake of all our spring sports’ fans, we must rethink our sports schedules.
Kevin Bendesky is a junior in Trumbull College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .