The 2024 NBA Playoffs season officially kicked off this April. NBA viewership will increase as casual fans come out of hibernation and die-hards indulge in their delusions — both of which are probably rooting for the Lakers. At Yale, student engagement with basketball peaked with the men’s basketball team’s historically successful March Madness run. Though short lived, the experience embodied a rare interlude of school spirit and united celebration among Yalies as the entire student body reposted the same @MarchMadnessMBB breaking post on Instagram.

But before diving into brackets and parlays, it’s worth reflecting on the one sporting event that everyone plays or witnesses, academic year round, athlete or not: cuffing season. 

Cuffing season is widely recognized as a period of love-seeking that occurs from October to March, culminating in Valentine’s Day for the lucky few. Like the NBA Playoffs, cuffing season follows a rigorous schedule of drafting, tryouts and preseason games leading up to the championship. Whether or not the payoff will feel equivalent to a cash prize of $500k is up for debate, however. 

While August and September are reserved for scouting, October is drafting — when your roster begins to take shape. The weather starts getting colder and you seek warmth through more satisfying means than a dorm room radiator. You find it increasingly difficult to enjoy downing room temperature soda mixed with vodka and stumbling off to High Street. In class, your mind wanders off to fantasize about wearing matching costumes at Halloweekend with your crush. You’d like someone to cheer with at Harvard-Yale. It’d be nice to tell your parents that you’re seeing someone this Thanksgiving — give them something to be grateful for. You might be drowning in midterms, but the leaves are changing color and you’d like someone to walk to East Rock with. 

In the NBA, preseason allows teams to see how their players play. Teams will experiment with various lineup combinations and sets, improve playing strategies, and get familiar playing with each other. Preseason typically takes place in October, but for the lovesick Yalie it’s in November. 

November is when roster evaluation gets serious. By this point, you’ve gone on a number of dates with that cute film and media studies major. You’ve thought about asking them to be your partner, but they’re French New Wave and you’re New Hollywood — it just wouldn’t work. You might be strategizing ways to end the talking stage with that buttery regular in your college. The greasy haze has worn off and now you’d rather enjoy your quesadilla in peace, alone. Essentially, November is when you really start weeding out prospects as you inch closer to cuffing. 

In December, you’ll think you’ve found the one. They’re effortlessly cool, smell nice and laugh at all your jokes. Even if it’s freezing out, they walk you home after long study sessions and send you off with a peck. Dinner dates never stagnate with awkward silence and they get just as excited about the first snow of the year as you do. A post-finals city outing is already in your G-cal. The only thing left unspoken is the anxiety you feel — how long can three weeks be?

If you didn’t fumble, spring semester is when you reap what you’ve sown in the preceding semester — you’re locked in. From January to March, campus defrosts and love blooms. Cross Campus becomes the hotspot for couple sightings as they sunbathe on picnic blankets. Your suitemate will surprise you when you bump into them holding hands with a stranger: with more daylight, they can no longer hide their romantic escapades in the cover of night. From late April to May, hard launches posted throughout peak formal season will shock, disgust or impress you. And if you’re worrying about what song to post your new lover to, congratulations! I hate you.

But, even for losers, there’s still Cancun. 

You might take advantage of being single by spending more time with friends and family, exploring new hobbies or actually doing your readings. You might drunkenly dance with a stranger under the dim lights of a frat house and finally pitch in for the Sunday brunch debrief. With Spring Fling just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to flirt with someone in a darty crowd wearing your cutest festival fit — no strings attached. 

Whatever it is you pursue, you’ll eventually come to terms with the liberatory power of singlehood. You might even grow to love it. Whether you’re entering singlehood after a failed cuffing season or a messy breakup, it’s a time for self-reflection and growth. You’ll make new promises and resolutions. To never again date someone who makes you cry on your birthday. To avoid student journalists at all costs (I say as I write from 202 York St). You’ll expand your vision board, gaining clarity in knowing what you want. Someone who sends you songs that remind them of you. Someone who would never refuse a spontaneous trip to Ashley’s with you.

And if you’re just miserable enough, you might get into a situationship right before heading off into the summer. For financial reasons, I will not be betting on you, but I’ll wish you the best of luck on the offseason anyway. 

CHRISTINA LEE
Christina Lee is the Head Photography Editor at the News. Originally from Long Island, NY, she is a junior in Davenport College majoring in Comparative Literature and History.