Exclusives: The Varsity Typewriter
PAW web exclusive column by Patrick Sullivan '02 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Stand up, sit down
Cheers and jeers for the Tigers and the Bulldogs
By Patrick Sullivan '02
Nostalgia seems to be
getting the best of me these days.
Every time I attend an
event recently, I cant help remember that it is my last
and this weekend, it was my last home mens basketball game.
(In my four years at Princeton, Ive gone to every Ivy League
home game, barring those few games played during the break between
semesters in late January.)
04 led the scoring with 16 points against Yale on February
23; Princeton won 59-46.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
My final two games as
a Tiger basketball enthusiast promised to be exciting. Entering
the second to last weekend of regular season play, five Ivy League
teams possessed the ability to claim the Ancient Eight title: Yale,
Princeton, Pennsylvania, Harvard, and Brown. And unlike in past
years, upstart Yale not the traditional league powerhouses
Penn and Princeton stood atop the standings.
The Tigers entered the
weekend facing a must-win situation; if they wanted to remain in
contention for the Ivy championship, Yale and Brown would have to
be defeated. Fortunately, both games unfolded in Princetons
favor, as the team avenged an early-season loss to the Bulldogs,
soundly thumping the Blue and White 59-46 Friday night. On Saturday,
Princeton unleashed a 26-point blowout on the Brown Bears, winning
73-47. In both games, Princeton never trailed, with the exception
of a 4-2 Yale advantage early in that game. More important, the
Tigers moved back into first place with a half-game lead over the
But the story doesnt
In my last column, I
bemoaned the improbable stat-sheet for the mens basketball
team, those paltry numbers that failed to correlate logically,
at least to the teams early-season victories. Well,
if those numbers werent confusing enough, try this on for
size: Depending on the outcomes of this weekends games, the
Tigers could win the championship outright, lose it outright, or
more likely, finish in either a tie with Penn or a three-way tie
with Penn and Yale. Tri-champions? Nothing like this has
ever happened since the Ivy League was formalized in 1956. If you
had asked me in November what the odds were of tri-champions, Id
probably have laughed aloud and assumed you were a misguided Yalie.
The Tigers and the Quakers
both hit the road this weekend, playing Cornell and Columbia. Yale
faces Harvard and Dartmouth at home for its final two regular season
games. Lastly, Penn and Princeton meet at the Tiger-hostile Palestra
in Philadelphia on Tuesday, March 5. Although college hoops and
upsets are often synonymous, Penn, Princeton, and Yale should win
their games this coming weekend. With the exception of an unexplainable
Penn loss at home to a hapless Columbia squad, the previous meetings
of these teams all ended in comfortable victories.
Assuming that Yale wins
both games, and Princeton and Penn sweep Cornell and Columbia, the
Princeton-Penn match-up will surely be a shootout of epic proportions:
A Tiger victory means an outright championship, while a Quaker win
ensures a three-way playoff at a neutral site for the title. Can
things get a little more tense, please?
Now that Ive broken
down the most likely scenario for deciding the Ivy League title
in my opinion, of course I want to address this nostalgia
issue. Besides my love for the sport of basketball and my enthusiasm
for Princeton athletics, I enjoy the ritual and tradition surrounding
games, especially football and basketball. I like that a cappella
groups sing the national anthem, I like watching the nutty alums
who attend every game, and I especially like singing "Old Nassau"
after a victory.
One of my favorite aspects
of home games, however, are the cheers Tiger fans unleash, sometimes
with brutal gusto, at visiting teams. Many are classics, like the
"sit down, you suck" cheer hurled at every opponent substituted
out of the game. Some are demeaning yet funny, like the "safety
school chant" chant directed at Cornell and Penn. A few cheers
are creative, like singing the "Umpa-Lumpa" song at diminutive
point guards. A couple cheers are purely generic, like "warm
up bus," "scoreboard" or "air ball."
However degrading or
comical some of Princetons cheers may appear to visiting teams
or alums, the majority are harmless, or if not totally benign, they
are stupid enough to be laughed off, like the "ugly" jeer
directed at sharp-shooting Bulldog guard Alex Gamboa. Hes
not even ugly, so the cheer actually solicited laughs from other
sections of Jadwin. Sadly, an article in The Daily Princetonian
reported that at the Yale-Princeton game in New Haven on February
9, the cheers from the student section were more overtly classless.
According the article
in the Prince, at certain times throughout the game, senior
guard Ahmed El-Nokali heard chants of "dirty Arab," and
references to the Al-Qaeda terrorist network. The soft-spoken Tiger
cocaptain also reported seeing posters in the stands with his picture
printed on them, and the word "Wanted" written across
the image. Additionally, both Princeton players and Yale fans recounted
hearing jeers of "token" directed at freshman guard Will
Venable, one of two African-American players on the Tiger squad.
Maybe Im overreacting,
but the behavior of these Yale fans, no matter how isolated, merits
an apology to El-Nokali and Venable. In the friendly camaraderie
of collegiate athletics, disrespectful, lowbrow behavior of that
nature is unacceptable. Fortunately, Venable and El-Nokali turned
away, choosing not to dignify the comments. That takes will power
More important, at the
Yale game this weekend, Tiger fans chose not to respond in kind.
Yes, the student section was raucous, and chants of "ugly"
and "mullet" could be heard. But nothing crossed the line
as the enthusiastic student section cheered its team to a must-win
In one of my last games
at Jadwin, the sell-out crowd reminded me of the games during my
freshman year, when the student section received a technical foul
for jumping up and down on the bleachers, causing the floor and
basketball rims to vibrate. As an impressionable freshman, I quickly
formed an addiction to Princeton basketball. Who wouldnt,
after having that much fun in the stands? After the 98-99
season, student attendance dropped; fans would show up only for
certain games. However, this past weekend, perhaps enticed by the
closest Ivy League title race on the books, Tigers came out en masse,
once again adding thir roar to the "Jadwin Jungle." The
atmosphere at those games reminded me again why I am such a devoted
fan of Tiger basketball.
Who cares if its slow-down,
defensive, back-door hoops? Its smart, fundamental, tradition-steeped
basketball, and that is what keeps the fans coming, in the Ivy League,
To those few, classless
jerks in New Haven who chose to degrade not only themselves but
also their school, I am sure that if the Princeton student section
were with me right now, youd all receive a rousing rendition
of my favorite Tiger cheer:
"Sit down, you suck."
can reach Patrick at email@example.com.