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It’s time to raise our standards for Columbia football
Columbia can learn a lot from Texas.
Over the past week or two, a lot has been said about Columbia’s football team. More than one of our columnists has written about the Lions and each time they’ve caught my eye. Some writers have introduced our readers to Baker Field, others have analyzed what we did wrong in our season opener, and there’s always someone who tries to convince as many people as possible to actually go to a game.
As the football beat writer, I write a lot about the team too, but my position usually precludes me from being outwardly pro-Light Blue most days.
It has been pointed out, however, that maybe I’m not always the best at hiding my feelings for the Lions. As a student of Columbia and a typically avid sports fan, I wish—more than just a little bit—that the Lions will win each week. While I think my preferences have nothing to do with writing an article focusing on the one good aspect of our game after acknowledging all the things the Lions failed at, apparently not everyone feels this way. I guess everyone’s entitled to their own opinion.
While I took the time to read and process each column addressing the topic of our football team in the last two weeks, there was one column in particular that made me stop and really think for a minute. Or two, or three. After reading Jim Pagels’ last column the first time through, I felt like he was being awfully pessimistic when it came to the Lions. He even tore apart the things that I thought went pretty well in that game. It seemed like there wasn’t really anything he was pleased about following the conclusion of our season opener. In my mind, Jim was a little harsh on our boys in baby blue—wasn’t he? Wasn’t he?
At first, I felt I had to disagree with Jim completely. Didn’t he notice how well our defense played for most of the game? Wasn’t he excited about the play at the end that could have tied the score? I know that in the end it was a huge letdown, but isn’t it impressive the Light Blue got so close? Apparently, not so much.
I read through Jim’s column another few times and I reflected back on the game a while. And finally I realized: Texas.
I’ve heard a lot about Texas in the last year from Holly, whose shoes I’m working so hard to fill. The connection being: Holly grew up in Texas, Jim spent his freshman year at UT Austin. Therefore, Jim, like Holly, knows just a little bit more about the Longhorns than I do, and I have the feeling he’s been to more than a few games. Alas, Jim, like Holly, has high expectations for his football team, and rightly so.
At the end of last season, the Longhorns’ record was 845-318-33 all-time. As in, they won 72 percent of all their games. They also have the second most wins of any NCAA Division I-A football team. They play in the Big 12 and still managed to go 8-0 in their division last year.
Just for comparison, the Lions went 3-4 in the Ivy League in 2009, which is actually an improvement from 2-5 the year before and 0-7 the year before that. Our football team is notoriously bad and we’re okay with that. Jim knows what it’s like to be better though, and so it seems he’s not so understanding of our complacency or our performance in the season opener.
So maybe we should take a lesson from Jim and hold our football team to a higher standard. He has a point after all— I shouldn’t be priding our Lions on doing just a couple good things in their first game. We lost that game in the fourth quarter on a bunch of mistakes that shouldn’t have happened. Despite the fact that they had played well most of the game, our defense should have stopped Fordham from scoring that last touchdown. The fumble on the 4-yard line was definitely a mistake we should have avoided.
We should expect the Lions to put together a winning season every year and maybe make a run at the league title. We should be the type of fans who analyze the bad things even when we do win so that next time we’ll do better. We should be a little upset every time the Light Blue fails to put a “W” on the board. A solid performance is something I think Columbia should come to expect from its football program. Who knows, maybe all the Lions need to make a big change is a little faith that they can. And so, as long are you’re not one of those Columbia students who is definitionally apathetic about our sports teams, I think it’s our job to raise the bar and cheer on the Light Blue as it tries to reach it.
By Victoria Jones, The Columbia Spectator