The Homecoming Experience

By Olivia Goldman

“DEFENSE! DEFENSE!… What, what’d I say wrong?”

Disclaimer: This isn’t about football—cliché or no, I couldn’t tell you a thing about what happened during the game. Any knowledge I have would be thanks to the obligatory/coerced narration of friends.

No one came to Columbia University expecting the typical undergraduate experience. Unlike some of the vast, sprawling greens of other colleges, while we fondly look at Columbia campus as our own oasis in a concrete jungle, we have to be honest with ourselves. Columbia itself isn’t what we think of as a good time. The people we meet, the things we experience, and the places we go throughout the city are the staples of the legendary nights that we sit down and tell our friends the next morning. Campus has a stigma; the city, enticement. As a result, the blasé city-dweller attitude may have made us a little callous to the whole “ra ra!” schtick. But, in between our Four Lokos, wine, and cheese, we all sometimes take a moment and meditate: what would life be like if we had gone to that state school? Some of us ponder longer then others, but eventually we all shake off the feeling, pick up our green tea and our Hemingway/Woolf novel, and recline in the leather chairs of a Butler reading room. Although apprehensively looking from side to side, I think we all kind of wish Columbia had a little more school spirit. At least, I do. Which is why I decided to go to the Columbia Homecoming game for the first time last Saturday.

…and there were people! (apx. 2,000 students attended)

My friend and I, after considering taking the subway just to avoid the wait, opted to take advantage of the opportunity to feel some CU pride and take the fanbus uptown. The wait wasn’t too long, and it was made shorter by passing decked-out greek life members, although we had to inform some disappointed freshmen from the South that, no, the Columbia football stadium doesn’t hold 100,000 people. More like 17,000—although we all know that means around 17, on a good day. The bus ride was fairly uneventful (/overwhelmingly sober?), but my friend and I noted that we got to see what was above 125th, above ground—a rare sight for most Columbia students. The rest of the trip was dominated by the fascination that we were in an automobile for the first time since August.

CUMB decided to do some reps, because yes, we did score.

When we arrived at the stadium, things began to get rolling. The “senior picnic,” catered by Mel’s, offered some questionable food, free beer, and schwasted seniors. Almost everyone I talked to admitted they had never been to a football game before, but there seemed to be a consensus that a conglomeration of friends, strangers, acquaintances, and those kids that you quietly hate on during lecture makes for a pretty interesting experience. After sneaking past the student ticket booth, we made our way to the stadium. To our surprise, there were people (!!!). According to event staff, over 2,000 students showed up for this quasi-momentous event of the semester. For a moment, as together we watched the Columbia University Marching Band do push-ups for each point earned by the football team, the cheerleaders (yes, we have cheerleaders!) perform round-offs, and the Light Blues run across the field, we were able to snub our noses at UPenn and share small smiles with each other. We saw the possibility that maybe, just maybe, this one football game that we actually attended would be the one that Columbia would win. Just like Charlie Sheen, for a moment, we were winning.

Feelin’ the CU pride.
Roar, Lion, Roar
And wake the echoes of the Hudson Valley!
Fight on to victory evermore,
While the sons of Knickerbocker rally round
Columbia! Columbia!
Shouting her name forever!
Roar, Lion, Roar
For Alma Mater on the Hudson Shore!

But then, we were losing. As the fantasy wore off, the crowd, once united, now apathetic and some slightly hungover, filed out of the stadium at half-time. I didn’t know whether or not we won for a while after I left, but according to Spectator, the final score was 27-20, and the game was close. Close, but no Cubans for you, Columbia. For the sake of school spirit, it is unfortunate that we have a traditionally losing football team, and a stadium over 100 blocks away. If we won, would we start showing some more spirit? Null point. So, where do we go from here? We could always try the inverse, and actually show up to the football games, and maybe the Lions would start winning. Could be a long shot, but if some sort of correlation can be drawn up, Columbia should seriously consider keeping the free beer as an incentive.

Olivia is a sophomore at Barnard and Senior Editor of The Nine Ways of Knowing. She lost her voice singing along to “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” with the Columbia University Marching Band.

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3 thoughts on “The Homecoming Experience

  1. haha really cute! you should send some students to a Virginia Tech football game, we bleed maroon and orange (VT colors) all season long…whether we win or lose!
    here is a video from our last home game, you couldn't even hear yourself screaming it was amazing!!!

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