Who wants a new football stadium? We're all tired of the trek up to the tip of Manhattan. How about a better gym? That one-tenth-of-a-mile oval just doesn't cut it. I know, I know—let's get a golf course on campus. Okay, maybe that one is a bit excessive. Still, any way you look at it, there are a lot of necessary improvements for our athletic program, and Robert Kraft's donations won't even begin to cover the costs. In these dire economic times, it is increasingly difficult to pressure the administration to spend more money on something we aren't all that good at. Instead, let's raise the money by pitting the Light Blue football team against a national powerhouse. If the Lions lose big to Florida and Virginia Tech every year, the money earned means students can attend basketball games without ever again entering the nuclear war bunker also known as Levien Gymnasium. San Jose State just traveled to Alabama, courtesy of the Crimson Tide. Sure, the Spartans lost 48-3, but they still walked out winners, raking in $1 million just for showing up. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, that would have financed 6 percent of San Jose State's entire athletic department budget last year. The Spartans are not alone in traveling great distances just for the sake of being annihilated. This past Saturday, Coast Carolina lost at West Virginia 31-0 while registering only nine first downs. Louisiana Lafayette managed a touchdown against Georgia, but the Bulldogs tallied 55 points of their own. Our athletic department does not believe in opening its doors, talking to reporters, or doing anything that could potentially bring it significant attention, but we can all assume that an extra $1 million every year would be a substantial help. I am in no position to speculate about the best use of that money—especially given the numerous flaws to be corrected—but I see no downside. Losing by large margins is nothing new, and wouldn't we rather watch the Lions lose by 40 to Alabama on national television than see them struggle with a school we've never heard of? Towson, anyone? I suppose the travel could be an issue, but then the school can just ignore the West Coast. The Big East and ACC are the weakest of the major conferences anyway, so trips to Pittsburgh or Clemson might actually inspire confidence. Of course, we need to schedule the game, but who can doubt the collective persuasion of University President Lee Bollinger, his "friend" Michael Bloomberg, and the one and only athletic director, M. Dianne Murphy? For those on the football team, I apologize. I have begun a new season with yet more pessimism. This is not meant to disparage our program or to speak poorly of the players. It is merely a statement of pragmatism. Ivy League play is all that matters, and whether the Light Blue goes 6-4 or 5-5, the athletic department needs more money to compete. It needs it for facilities, staff, equipment, and so on. Most of all, it needs the cash so the student body stops wondering where all the money goes and why a school with such a large endowment, an institution gentrifying neighborhood after neighborhood, cannot afford to spend money on something its student body and alumni actually care about. Well, this is the best way to get it. I am ready to leave Columbia without having witnessed a championship—or even a winning conference record—in either football or basketball. In choosing to attend Columbia, I ignored the immense pleasure I derived from watching my high school excel in athletics and signed up for four years of major-sports mediocrity. However, I am not ready to leave Columbia without some improvements. Our teams are getting better—much better. Yet there is a limit to what can be done with the current financial situation. Better recruits, experienced coaches, and legitimate media attention come not just with talent, but with exposure. Our best hope starts with losing—something we are accustomed to. However, by losing, we effectively gain. We get national publicity and financial stability. By losing now, we win in the future. That is all I can hope for now, anyway.
Columbia Spectator Staff