When I saw the clip of Penn State cornerback Adam Taliaferro leading his team out onto the field just 11 months after a paralyzing injury – it almost brought a tear to my eye. His story is one of miraculous triumph and perseverance that will undoubtedly remain not only in his heart and all the viewers who saw it, but also to the thousands upon thousands who filled Beaver Stadium. It was that sea of Nittany Lion blue that got to me most – just the sound of all those voices sent chills throughout my body … and that was at home, in front of the television.
Just imagine the sound in unison of thousands of screaming fans that in spirit share the same feelings with you, even just for a few hours. Exceptional moments often shared by those who call colleges of great sporting tradition their temporary abode – the North Carolinas, the Dukes, the Penn States and the Notre Dames. It’s in their brochures, their alumni, their student body … it’s in their name. It’s a spirit and tradition unmatched by professional leagues – the notion of pure camaraderie and brotherhood, often untouched by the poisons of megabucks and MTV cribs.
For those who enjoy sports, there is nothing more exhilarating than being in the cheering masses as your school’s warriors head into battle with their fiercest rivals (unless of course, you are one who dons your school’s uniforms). To be there as the ‘6th man’, the extra weapon in your team’s arsenal who provide a certain intangible quality known as ‘home court advantage’. A quality tested best when highlighted by the intense rivalries akin to the Florida vs. Florida States, the North Carolina vs. Dukes, and the UCLA vs. USCs.
So why did I end up going to Pacific?
The reasons at the time seemed justified – it was a relatively small school, the female to male ratio was about 60/40 and my choice of major was covered.
This was of course until I settled in and realize that school spirit was dead, the football program was canceled a few years ago and our once magnificent stadium was rented out to high schools and marching bands. What did they expect us to do? Watch the girls’ volleyball team? (Although they were ranked consistently in the nation’s top 5 it was still girls volleyball – sometimes aesthetically pleasing, but as fun as watching a Kevin Costner movie on a Saturday night) So the Pacific faithful struggled with a hapless basketball team and the notion that the football team that was once ranked #1 in the country (sometime in the 50’s) while sporting a Heisman candidate had gotten so bad they had to cancel the program.
School sports were phased out of my Pacific mentality – instead I listened to a teacher from Michigan revel as his Spartans took home championship glory in basketball (circa 1999-2000) and I listened to stories of campus wide parties that spilled across the town. Something I knew, I would not be taking part in while at Pacific.
So for those of you college bound sports enthusiasts, my recommendation is to consider those big named schools with great sporting traditions. It’s something I missed out on for now, but who knows, maybe someday I’ll be able to revel in the glory of true school spirit. To someday pull down goalposts, tailgate with the best of them and maybe even upturn cars in after game partying/rioting.