Toe to Toe: Hodes versus Schmidley (Hodes)
Next weekend, the Big Green baseball team will face Columbia in what is sure to be an epic series (don't worry, I'll be writing more on this later in the week). And both Schmidley and I will be there cheering like crazy for Dartmouth. We're both friends with many players, attend most of the games and, in Schmidley's case, sleep in Dartmouth baseball pajamas. You can be sure that we both want to see the team win badly, but I have to wonder how much people care throughout the rest of campus. I'd expect a lot of people to react with a shrug or a, "That's cool, but where are we playing pong tonight?" That's the spirit.
Much has been written about campus apathy towards our athletic programs, but it's undeniable. Think I'm lying? How much did last year's National Championship for the ski team resonate with you? How about figure skating for the past five years? Didn't think so, but it's not your fault. I had no idea Dartmouth had a championship-caliber cycling squad until I received a Blitz informing me that their race was going to block my car this Saturday. Dartmouth is fraught with successful sports teams, but they go unnoticed by the vast majority of students.
Now here's what clinches it for me. When a team from your hometown is performing well, it seems like everyone with the slightest of ties to the team gets worked up about the prospects of success. When a Dartmouth team reaches such a plateau, David Glovsky writes an uninformed article encouraging people to support the team. And then nothing happens. When we can't even generate bandwagon support for teams, something is truly wrong.
The only true test, however, of something's worth is to measure it in a trade-off. If you could only have one, would you prefer the professional or collegiate title? If you're a true fan, you've grown up rooting for certain professional teams, and they're more deeply ingrained in your blood than your college. If you told me Dartmouth basketball could win the NCAA tournament next year, that would be awesome, and I'd certainly want to see it happen. But if you told me I could trade that victory for one for the Knicks, I'd make the deal in a heartbeat.
What I've learned is that there is no blanket support for College teams. We support teams we have close ties to, but our school spirit doesn't carry over to other sports. Even at schools with more fervent athletic programs, where basketball and football reign supreme, do you think students really care if their chess team performs well? Maybe at other schools, there's true support for one program or another, but that's where it ends. And that's really too bad.
So here's my pitch for you to care: We're a population of a few thousand, and when a select few of us are on the brink of excellence, that's something special. No, Glove, not because "it's a good time to support the team," but because it's a good time to support our classmates. And don't think your support will go unnoticed. Dartmouth athletes and coaches devote so much energy to their pursuits, and it means the world to them to have the support of the Dartmouth community.
We've all been guilty of not caring more for the larger community, and I'm no exception, so why not try a little bit harder? Think about how hard you cheered when the Giants won the Super Bowl or when the Red Sox won the World Series? Think about how hard Schmidley cheered when Darren McFadden ran his 40 at the combine? We know how much these events mean to us. Now know that's how much their performance means to Dartmouth athletes and coaches. Is it really so hard to cheer for them?