Stanford football games are always a pretty exciting on campus, especially when playing a huge rival like Oregon. But this game was special; it was College GameDay on ESPN. I had no idea what that meant, I’m still not quite sure what it is, but I know it’s important and impressive. For days leading up to the game, my Stanford webmail inbox got blasted with requests for extra tickets — someone even likening their Oregon game ticket to receiving cake on their birthday. Emails announced rollouts commencing at 5 a.m. and the subsequent rally on The Oval. Even though I miss some of the fanfare that surrounds a Stanford football game, I was quite thankful I was 3,000 miles away, which seemed to be the only way to avoid being dragged along to the early-morning celebration.
When other Howard students talk about their football team (it’s all about the halftime show out here and to be real, it’s usually worth waiting for), I don’t hesitate to tell them what it’s like to have a bowl-winning team. I keep tabs on our team, even purposefully going to ESPN.com so I know what’s going on (that’s a lot for a girl that doesn’t even know what channel that is on her free cable.).So in the spirit of the big match, I purposefully read an ESPN article that talked about our unique football program. The author found one of its most unique components to be the fact that players are treated not like gods, but like the students they are. Of course, student athletes get some privileges that not all students get, but it’s no different from any other privileges that come with being associated with certain groups or organizations (am I really the only one who wonders why senators have access to Old Union at all kinds of crazy hours when I’m stuck going to creepy Meyer if I want a place to study?). Nonetheless, the thing that got me about the article was a quote from head football coach, David Shaw. An amazing guy in his own right, he gave his own explanation for Stanford’s football culture. He summed it up perfectly saying, “Stanford is full of people who love to see greatness…It’s a place of many excellences.”
It’s an interesting thought — especially considering it comes from the football coach — and I would have to agree. While there are so many people doing amazing things all over our campus, there is more than one thing that we should focus on. Stanford just likes to win. We want to be best in everything. After our little shakedown with Oregon, some worried that students are simply fair-weather fans, but Cardinal pride runs deep, and it doesn’t go down easy. Instead of finding cries of “what happened?” I found optimism and support for the Cardinal, and even joy as students found solace in the Maroon 5 concert scheduled for that same night. Things have been worse before, and one day, it may be worse again. But right now, there’s something magical about the spirit and energy of students coming together in support of their fellow classmates who play their hearts out every weekend in front of packed stadiums.
The day after Saturday’s tragedy, I had expected to see my Facebook timeline filled with lamentations over our heartbreaking loss to Oregon. Instead I found a mix of optimism and support for our beloved team, with students past and present praising them for what they have been able to accomplish so far. And now, days later, students have finished licking their wounds (with the incredible concert expediting the healing process) and turned their attention to the game that matters most: Big Game. The people we love to hate most are coming to campus, and I couldn’t be more stoked. I feel like I’m more excited now than when I was actually on campus.
One of the best Facebook statuses I saw all day went like this: “End of the Night Rankings: Stanford: #5. University of Oregon: #101. Oops, I was looking at US News College Rankings: the ones that matter more…
After I finished ROFLing, I had to agree. There’s more to life than football, there’s more to life than rankings, there’s more to life than one loss. No matter what the score is at the end of the game, we’re still #winning because Stanford’s got SWAG (Students Working After Graduation).
Camira would really appreciate someone finally explaining to her what College GameDay is. Email her at camirap “at” stanford “dot” edu with this important information.