Much to His Chagrin
By Michael Shagrin
Published on Friday, September 14, 2012
Much to my chagrin, the summer before my senior year was tragically abbreviated. Sure, there are some logistical advantages to this experimental calendar system, though I can’t help but feel the same dissatisfaction as I do at the close of the lockout-shortened seasons that have become increasingly common in professional sports. The gift of the three-month summer, a staple of all our lives since Kindergarten, was unceremoniously yanked away and replaced by an elongated Thanksgiving break. We are all back in Hanover, already behind on our reading and cursing Jim Yong Kim for his parting “gifts” to the college. “Here’s a consortium on concussions, a panel on drinking and, while we’re at it, how about everybody comes back to school two weeks early!” There is an upside to the schedule shift beyond the extended autumnal vibrancy, or, as we Jews call it, allergy season. That upside is the inauguration of a fall academic quarter which actually coincides with the fall athletics season. For as long as Dartmouth has used the conventional quarter system, fall athletes have come to Hanover for preseason activities long before the rest of the student body. In fact, many of their regular season schedules began before freshman Orientation. This incongruity between the academic and athletic calendars is not lost on the fall sports teams. Don’t be fooled by their muscular exteriors and general awesomeness — athletes have feelings, too. This year, there’s an unprecedented excitement surrounding the emergence of the fall season, including those athletes set to perform. Why wouldn’t they be inspired? Since coaches can no longer rely on monetary incentives to injure a member of the opposing team (who dat?), it’s a stroke of luck and good timing that this weekend’s events will feature a sea of green and white in the bleachers. I spoke to co-captain of the women’s soccer team Emma Brush ’13 after last Sunday’s game, and she confirmed the positive sentiment about the forward-shifted schedule. While the squad isn’t particularly used to having a grand showing of student fans, the sizeable flock that showed up against No. 21 Rutgers University proved a much more potent force than the Scarlet Knights’ traveling army — a phenomenon that did not go unrecognized by the girls in their home whites.
Though the angle of the sun was exasperating, the game was a grind to the finish and a real joy to watch. I even joined the battlefield myself with some lighthearted harassing of the Rutgers players and their families. While I’m not going to say that my heckling experience was worthy of the big leagues, I’d certainly be able to flare a few singles in the farm system. After starting the season with two wins and two losses, the Big Green will be taking on its in-state rival, the University of New Hampshire, on Friday at 7:30 p.m. But don’t stay out too late, you hooligans, because Saturday is the beginning of football season in Hanover. The home opener against Butler University, starting at 7:00 p.m., will be Saturday night’s main event. The game should warrant an uptick in attendance compared to last season’s counterpart, not due to the fact that students will be present in Hanover, but because the game will be played under the little-used lights of Memorial Field. As football co-captain Bronson Green ’14 told me, the confluence of fan presence, floodlights and the customary intensity of a home opener should provide a great experience both for those in attendance and the players on the field.
I will say that I was personally discouraged to see the Preseason Ivy League Media Poll slotting our beloved gridiron gang in a measly sixth place, only above the sad institutions of Columbia University and Princeton University. But I was immediately revitalized after digging into these nominal experts’ predictions from last year. Although the Big Green tied for second in the 2011-2012 season, the Ivy League sports media seemed to think Dartmouth would finish a distant fifth at the season’s outset.
So, lesson learned: If people claim to know something about Ivy League sports, they likely don’t. In fact, you should probably put this paper down and head on over to the sports complex before my amateurism poisons what would have been an intelligent, worldly opinion.