In Defense Of…Basketball Games

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Our brave defender this week is Daily Editor/Sports Guru James Downie, extolling the virtues of basketball games

At Columbia, many students like to pretend they’re too cool to root for sports teams. In academic speak, this would be “a surrender to the psychology of the mob” (even though Lord of the Flies clearly demonstrates the success of the mob approach; anyone who whines as much as Piggy deserves to be brained). In addition to this social barrier, many sports suffer from their distance from campus, their lack of notoriety as sports outside the Olympics (see: fencing, rowing, etc.), or, most importantly, the sheer awfulness of the teams (hello, 44 losses in a row!). 

Basketball suffers from none of these. Now, I’ll admit I played two years of junior varsity basketball in high school, mostly filling the “Vanilla Thunder” role reserved for gangly white guys coming off the bench. While I actually enjoyed those years (despite acne’s best efforts to make me cry), that is not why I advocate going to some basketball games. Rather, basketball games offer, in addition to healthy doses of sleevelessness, one of the best ways to experience fun, drama, and even some good old school spirit.

The first difference between basketball and many other sports on campus is that its games are in Dodge, rather than a hundred blocks north. Instead of requiring actual planning, you can decide to go over five minutes beforehand, and still be at the game in time for tipoff. This convenience isn’t available even on many sports-mad campuses, and it makes going to and from the game much less of a hassle.

Another difference is that the games are almost always competitive. Columbia’s program has improved under Coach Joe Jones, and the team itself has been fun to watch as well. It looks to be the same way this season: the 65-62 win over Fordham last Friday was a brilliant game, as good as any you’ll see during March Madness. Furthermore, the Ivy League is no longer a two-team race between Penn and Princeton: all eight teams (well, except for Dartmouth) can be competitive with each other.

Finally, basketball games are free for students. It’s hard to get better entertainment for free for two hours (at least for something that isn’t illegal).  The Levien Gym may only fit 3,400 (4th in the Ivy League), but it’s a loud space, especially during conference games. The noise helps create that classic charged atmosphere that all sporting events need. So give it a try, jaded Lion. You’ll find yourself cheering along as well.

– Photo: “Basket-Ball, Columbia University” (circa 1908) from G.G. Bain Collection via

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  1. jim downie...  

    i hate you so much, could you be more lame?

  2. jim downie  

    i love you so much, could you be more awesome?

  3. i  

    come to the basketball double header tomorrow! 6pm and 8pm!!

  4. rob  

    whoo! shorpy! shorpy

  5. Only at Columbia...  

    would you need to have a "defense" of basketball. This is just sad.

  6. whoah  

    Nice picture of Dodge pre-1960s, back when it was just the blue gym under University Hall.

    Could you link me to your source? Thanks!

  7. B-school = bastards  

    In 1959, the death knell for University Hall was rung when the Courtney Brown, dean of the Business School secured a donation build a new facility for school, and got permission to use University Hall's site. The single campus level story was demolished and the construction of Uris Hall was completed by 1964.


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