Bwog thought it’d be interesting to observe a basketball game through the eyes of someone who doesn’t “do” the whole “sports” thing, so we sent Alison Herman to broaden her horizons at the basketball season home opener on Tuesday evening.
Disclaimer: Before last night, I had never attended a single Columbia basketball game. In fact, I’d never been to a single Columbia athletic event—I considered going to homecoming freshman year, but five miles seemed a little far to travel for some guys throwing around a lemon-shaped object. So I entered Levien Gymnasium last night for Columbia Men’s Basketball’s first home game of the season with bright eyes and high expectations.
Arriving fifteen minutes before the 7:30 tip-off, I was disappointed to see only about a dozen other students in the stands (besides, of course, CUMB). Within a few minutes, however, the stands had filled up with about sixty fans, all of whom seemed relatively excited for a Tuesday and only three or four of whom appeared to be older than 40. And before I knew it, the band was playing “Fuck You” to signal the imminent start of the game against Haverford.
The Haverford Fords took to the court dressed in slightly sinister-looking black and red uniforms, but it was painfully obvious (and slightly depressing) that their team had a not-so-slight physical disadvantage. The Fords were, on average, about three inches shorter than the Lions. They looked athletic, but not in an intimidating, seven-foot-tall-guy-in-my-econ-class kind of way. This made the Lions’ first basket, about five seconds after kickoff, less than surprising.
The rest of the first half was similarly anticlimactic. As the Lions scored point after point and widened their lead over Haverford, the plays started to blur into each other. There were a few highlights—the guy who had been in my Lit Hum section made a 3-pointer! Number 55 was really, really good! I could identify with the only person on the team under six feet! Touchdown! But I felt a newfound appreciation for people capable of breaking down and analyzing a game that seemed to me like a chaotic, hour-long, and ten-person orgy of running, jumping, and throwing. And it felt a little wrong to be rooting against a Quaker school.
At halftime, the Lions were leading 44-19, and my earlier pride in Columbia fans’ impressive showing left the building—just like more than half of the fans. Then again, they probably had homework or something. I consoled myself by watching a performance from the dance team.
The second half of the game was characterized by more of the same. The Lions dominated the court, outrunning and outscoring Haverford and maintaining their lead. After the cheerleading squad performed, in one of the better examples of cognitive dissonance I’ve ever seen, to the tune of CUMB’s version of the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack, the last ten minutes of the game were done before I knew it. With a final score of 74-40, the Lions were off to a promising start for their season, and the remaining fans were off to start their problem sets.
Ballin’ via Columbia University Athletics