Dartmouth students come from all over the country (and the world). They come in with their own loyalties, far from many of their friends and family. Though they are far from home, many students at Dartmouth like to keep in contact with what they left behind. One way to do that is by continuing their hometown obsessions.
We have all seen these people: they camp out in Collis, particularly on Saturdays and Sundays during college/pro football season. They're wearing the jerseys of their favorite teams together in front of the television brought together by nothing but their shared fandom. Particularly notable is the small but rabid group of New York Rangers fans that seem to be in Collis from time to time (making an NHL joke would be too easy here).
To many Dartmouth students, keeping up with their teams while in Hanover is a way to remain a part of their local culture. Nick Dawe '10, a rabid Cincinnati Bengals fan, says he either listens to his team's games online or watches them in Collis with other Bengals fans.
"Keeping track is definitely a lot harder than back home because in high school, when we couldn't go to games, we would get together and watch or talk about it online while we were watching," Dawe said. "In Cincinnati we have a lot of hometown pride and everyone I know from back home still stays on top of things, but it's not quite the same as when you can get together and watch the games."
Though the College does a good job providing opportunities for students to watch games (the NFL package in Collis being the most notable), it's never the same as being at home. I don't talk to my friends at Dartmouth about my hometown teams because for the most part, it's not the same. Or even close.
The sports atmosphere I grew up in is difficult to leave, but it is even more difficult to explain for those who did not grow up around it. To give you an idea, my father, oftentimes unbeknownst to my mother, makes sure that if they go out to dinner during a game that they go somewhere with a television so he can check the score (sometimes he disappears for long periods of time). This weekend, in talking to a senior from Wisconsin, we had a long discussion about how much the Green Bay Packers mean to her and to her entire state, and how no one at Dartmouth understands why she makes sure that every week she catches the Packers' games on television.
An anonymous sophomore (trying to avoid the spotlight) described to me why he still stays in touch with his favorite local team, the Ohio State Buckeyes.
"My continued interest stems from the fact that many of my friends currently go to Ohio State, and my being an OSU fan keeps us linked even though we go to school hundreds of miles apart," he said. "Plus, the fact that OSU is successful year in and year out gives my friends and me a team to pull for and provides me with a way to show my pride for my hometown while I am at Dartmouth."
For teams that play more frequently than the once-a-week schedule of football squads, keeping up can be a little tougher. Unless you are a fellow New Englander, your games are not typically broadcast locally in Hanover, so keeping in touch can be as simple (or as hard) as following games over the internet.
One friend of mine and a devout Lakers fan watches his team's games when they are on television, but mostly is forced to follow the team through box scores and game recaps on ESPN.com. There is also the time issue, since watching 82 games per year is not particularly feasible while we are at school (it is even worse for baseball fans).
Rooting for your local teams at Dartmouth can be a somewhat lonely experience. But it is a good way to remain part of the community you left behind, and a great way to keep in touch with old friends, even if no one else seems to understand your extreme fixation.
Finally, a big shoutout to Tanner Glass '07, who received his first NHL call-up Monday and played one minutes and nine seconds for the Florida Panthers against the Carolina Hurricanes. May this be the first of many appearances for the former Dartmouth team captain.