I spent all of my college years close to Division 1 college sports. Whether it was writing the Purdue/IU game pressers in Ass. Hall, watching Purdue Wrestling or watching Wisconsin get brutalized by the legendary(-ish) 2018/2019 Purdue Basketball squad, I was there. Of course I ended up writing a lot more city-related stories than sports and that eventually became what I was good at, but it was fun being in the glamor of Division 1 sports and the frenzy and energy of the fans. All the weird traditions, specialized cheers and the passionate fanbases.
One recent Saturday, after a long day of walking around The Marina, I got a taste of it again. UC Berkeley Men’s Football (known as Cal, or that school) was having their home opener against Auburn that night (a school from Alabama, for those who don’t know). And I was going to go thanks to esteemed subscriber Atreya Verma (who, by the way, produces for The Sunday Long Read).
What I saw was one of the ugliest games of American Football I had ever seen. But it was college football at its finest. A student section filled with young new fans, unprepared for the brutal reality of cheering for a middling team. Dedicated SEC fans from places like Prattville, AL who traveled 3,000 miles across the country to cheer for Auburn. Missed field goals, turnovers, hands on heads, bewildering coaching decisions from both sides. The final comeback from the visiting team to put a damper on the home opener.
And the slow, sad, trickle of Cal fans blowing away with the wind from the bay after a touchdown in the far corner by Auburn.
It was a spectacle.
Of course, there was a great marching band as well.
These are all the things that define my love for sports. The story, the raging battle of emotions as you watch the team you’ve somehow dedicated yourself to (they don’t care about you but you care about them a lot), and the inevitable sadness. Nothing beats sports.
This newsletter does not call into question the role of sports in current-day academic institutions and looks at things purely from an entertainment point of view. To discuss the social and economic implications of college sports please go elsewhere. Or come back if I’m ready to have that discussion.
anonymous subscriber news of the week
- anonymous subscriber is going to taiwan
- anonymous subscriber received chocolates from his former roommate
- anonymous subscriber, in their quest for love, goes on their eighth first date in as many days. new york dating is tough.
- anonymous subscriber, despite repeated warning, played ranked league of legends
animal of the week
Raccoons have been through a lot this week. I think this makes them deserving of this prize. Give it up for the raccoons, for the ones near and far, in our hearts, and then ones playing League of Legends. You’re trash, but you’re our trash.