Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a sports neophyte, following Columbia’s teams is probably unlike anything you’ve experienced. But don’t worry, I’m here to guide you through this treacherous adventure.
This week, you’ll probably hear at least one joke about the ineptitude of Columbia sports or student apathy toward sports. Unfortunately, these jokes will be somewhat true.
Even within the Ivy League, Columbia, I concede, isn’t the greatest when it comes to athletics. That being said, it isn’t the worst either. Some of our teams are actually really good! Fencing and men’s tennis perform consistently well on the national level. And within the league, baseball, cross country, and golf are all solid.
It’s mostly the marquee sports—football and basketball—that give the Light Blue its less-than-stellar reputation. But even those sports aren’t so bad—anymore. The reason the Lions are known as cellar-dwellers is that for years, these programs were pretty awful. But luckily for you, they aren’t anymore.
Football, for example, has come a long way since its 44-game losing streak that stretched from 1983 to 1988. Last season, the Lions tied for fourth in the league with a 3-4 Ivy record (4-6 overall). Now, I realize it’s not the same as winning a championship, but the Light Blue appears poised to build on last year. Who knows? If you can drag yourself to Baker Field one Saturday, you may get to watch your peers make a run for the Ivy title.
Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams have also improved tremendously over the past few years. The women’s team earned its first winning season last year, finishing with an 18-10 overall record and a 9-5 conference record, which was good for third place.
The men’s team stumbled a bit this past season, earning its first sub-.500 conference record in four years. But the Lions’ 11-17 overall finish is much better than its 2-25 record from the 2002-2003 season.
So what does all this mean? It means you should actually care about Columbia sports.
You may be thinking, “Why should I reject the time-honored Columbia tradition of ignoring athletics?” Here’s your answer: While cheering on your classmates is a novel concept for most students, you, the class of 2014, may actually have the chance to see your friends bring home an Ivy crown in a major sport. Get excited.
Older generations of Columbia students have an excuse to be apathetic, but you don’t. Sure, our teams still aren’t the greatest, but they’re worth cheering for.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it—being a Columbia Lions fan can be, at times, frustrating, difficult, and even depressing. But, as is true with all sports teams, the joy of victory more than makes up for the agony of defeat.
Even though I’ve experienced more than one disheartening loss, I’m still going to trek up to Baker for football’s home opener. And you should, too. After all, this could be their year.