I, along with the small populace of this desk, am living living proof to discredit the oft-propagated notion that sports culture doesn’t exist at NYU.
Just because we don’t have a top-tier athletic program full of Division I teams and all the ensuing tropes — football, cheerleaders, beer kegs and tailgating — doesn’t mean we don’t still have a sizeable contingent of students who live and breathe any given sport. Just ask our resident Sports Kid.
If people don’t come to NYU for sports, fine. They come for name brand schools like Tisch and Stern, but most of all, they come for the one, the only, New York City. New York is a hotbed for sports culture, saturated by the presence of professional teams like the Mets, Giants, Knicks and Yankees. And they, amidst many more, all have avid followers. Walk just about anywhere in Manhattan on Rangers game day and you’re sure to see a myriad of jerseys and hats.
The thing about NYU students is that those who come here to play sports aren’t likely to move on with their athletic careers upon graduation. They’ll be parents who tell their kids how they played college ball while driving them to their first practice at the local diamond. Whereas sports-crazed state schools are built to send players to the pros — and are often criticized for the emphasis placed on athletic accomplishments and talent during the admissions process — NYU athletes are scholars first, enriched by their athletic experience.
That said, the artists-only narrative that seems to permeate NYU’s landscape is an unfair one. I made my collegiate decision independent of the school’s sports culture because I am not an athlete. That doesn’t mean I don’t like sports. Why else would I be here writing beneath a byline that says Deputy Sports Editor? NYU students like sports; they just don’t seem to like NYU sports. The real problem is that most of them don’t even stop to give them a chance, which is unfair to the program, the coaches, the administrators and of course, the athletes.
At the beginning of freshman year, I gave NYU sports a chance. I saw the WSN open house in my little NYU Guide app and nervously asked my roommate if she wanted to go. She did.
And for some reason I stuck around. And I stuck around at the sports desk, of all places. Last semester, I let it be known at WSN that I was Canadian, and so when NYU’s hockey team hit the ice to start their season, guess who was desperate to cover it? But somewhere along the way, the fact that it was NYU sports that I was covering washed away, and it became about the team and the game, as it should with sports. Fast forward to a few weeks ago and you could catch me crying at the WSN office while watching what turned out to be the Violet hockey team’s last game of the season. Sports matter, no matter how small. And maybe NYU sports should matter just a little more to the students who aren’t suiting up to play them.
I love hockey, if that wasn’t already apparent. But as it happened, this year was not my team’s year. The Vancouver Canucks tried — you wouldn’t have thought so at some points this season — but in the end, the playoffs were not in the Hockey Gods’ divine plan this season. Did it break my heart? Absolutely. But the Violets, though not quite the National Hockey League, sort of helped bridge the hockey void in my heart. Add in the fact that most Canucks games don’t begin until 10 p.m. EST because of the three-hour time difference and the Violets became my go-to team. But if either Sedin twin ever asks, I deny that last comment.
The point is, I became not just a follower, but a fan of an NYU team. I went to a few games, and then a few more, and then before I knew it I was so invested that the aforementioned crying scene ensued. NYU sports aren’t ESPN fodder. There are no politics, no Gary Bettmans, no sexual assault scandals, just the good ol’ hockey game, or whatever your sport-poison is. I watched the Violets without having to be distracted thinking of the billion-dollar industry behind it all. I just watched a little team that could.
So next year, if your team fails to clinch the season’s crown, or even play in the postseason, no matter what sport it is, consider exploring the NYU alternative, because you might just be ever-so-pleasantly surprised with what you find.
Email Rachel Ruecker at [email protected]