Lukas Flippo, Senior Photographer
The sports commencement column is a tradition that runs deep at the Yale Daily News. The graduating columnist dons their most dazzling rose-tinted glasses and, in a heavy state of nostalgia, glowingly reflects on great sporting moments from the past year. They write about their pride in — and what it means to be — graduating from an institution and a community capable of delivering such incredible rushes of pure elation and academic excellence.
In years past, this article could give you an extensive and wonderful breakdown of a Hollywood-like scenario where a graduating senior, in the throngs of thousands of students and alumni alike, witnessed a double-OT win against Harvard in near-darkness. Add in the fact that Yale rallied from a double-digit deficit late in the third quarter and, just maybe, you’ve got a potential sports classic that rivals the likes of Jerry Maguire and Moneyball.
I could’ve reflected on how Yale’s sporting community, student-athletes and fans alike, has fostered a connection that runs across dozens-upon-dozens of sports during the year. I’d paint a picture of the Bulldogs out on the field, on the court or in the pool feeding off of the love and support of their fellow classmates. How those wearing the Blue and White raise their arms up to the sky and encourage those in the stands to make as much noise as humanly possible. The list goes on and on and on.
Yet those moments up in the stands and down on the field feel so long ago.
This year has been littered with a sense of standstill and heartbreaking silence. We currently find ourselves in a moment in time where metaphors concerning battles, struggles and sadness cascade far beyond the friendly confines of a sporting competition. And for the past year, perhaps it feels right that sports took a slight step back in our list of priorities, as we all contested our other fights –– be it COVID, isolation, thesis work or standing up for a cause that we believe in. Sports can wait.
But as we near the end of what has been one hell of a long year, remembering those who have passed away and suffered from a dizzying host of terrible things the past has thrown at us, let us carry on with a sense of heartfelt optimism. We will still bear the wounds of what has already happened and feel the urge to continue our battles for what we believe is right, but we’ll have the joy of the wonderful and newly-recovered everyday by our side –– and be all the better for it.
And it seems fitting that our graduating class ventures out of Yale and into the world with a sense of possibility in our hearts. What we have experienced in our past collectively seems unbelievable and speaks volumes for what we can achieve in the future.
For some, graduation and a return to the wonderful everyday means thinking big. A pursuit of further education or landing that dream job straight off-the-bat, perhaps. For others, it starts by focusing on the little things. Imagine venturing to a bar without a mask and sipping on an ice-cold drink with friends on a hot summer’s day. I’d argue that certainly gets the good times going.
No matter how we each choose to spend our lives after this unrepeatable graduation, I urge you all to take a long weekend off sometime and come back to New Haven. Don those rose-tinted glasses. Visit the colleges, classrooms, bars and restaurants where you lived, learned and laughed. Oh, and while you’re at it, head over to a sports game. You name the arena –– the Yale Bowl, Payne Whitney, Ingalls Rink –– and they’ll all be buzzing. Each place, each team and one community looking for another once-in-a-lifetime moment that bolsters us to do amazing things every single day.