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Beyda: Embracing the Cardinal sin

The Stanford Daily are having an existential crisis. Up is down. Left is right. Cal is awesome.

The word “Cardinal” is plural.

That’s the decision that was handed down earlier this week by the heads of our sports and copy departments, the power-hungry Do-Hyoung Park and the rebellious Alice Phillips, respectively. Up until Wednesday, our sports section was filled with elegant sentences such as, “The Cardinal hosts lowly Cal this Saturday,” and, “The Golden Bears have no shot against the Cardinal and its vaunted defensive front”; now, we’re going with, “The Cardinal host lowly Cal this Saturday,” and, “The Golden Bears have no shot against the Cardinal and their vaunted defensive front.”

Say what you want about which sounds better, but for as long as anybody could remember, we at The Daily have preferred the first version, and for a simple reason. We all know that Stanford’s official mascot is the color and not the bird, and no matter what Brent Musburger may scream, it’s the singular “Cardinal” and not the plural “Cardinals.” That’s why Stanford Athletics — and The Daily of yesteryear — clung tightly to that word’s singularity.

Ever since I’ve been here, the rule has been the source of by far the most common mistake by our new sportswriters — “the Cardinal sin,” as someone at the office aptly called it this week. But it was always hard to blame those writers, since in accordance with our beloved AP Style, just about every major media outlet writing about Stanford sports (except for the two outlets actually housed on campus) did it that other way. Heck, I even once fired off a snarky email to the ESPN Pac-12 Blog asking them to correct their noun-verb agreement.

A few Daily sportswriters have been up in arms about the change this week, but I feel like it’s my duty to whine publicly as this golden age comes to an end. After all, I’ve had the convention hammered in over the course of a book, 250 of my own stories and hundreds more that I’ve edited. This is cruel, almost like replacing your grandparents’ spectacles with a pair of Google Glass.

It was always cool to write about the Cardinal as if it was a single, looming behemoth, ready to swing the might of its 19 Directors’ Cups at anything that stood in its path. Those days are over, and that’s the last sentence in which I’ll ever get to use our team’s name as a singular noun. As I’ve grown to understand in my time here, perhaps it’s more realistic that I’ll be writing about the Cardinal as if they were a collection of unique, human individuals — of college students.

Is the change for the better? Probably. Does it bring The Daily up to date with the rest of the media world? Definitely.

Will it be easy for me to swallow? Not at all. So for the time being, as I begin to unlearn everything I held dear over the last four years of my life, I hope you accept my sincere apologies for every copy error relating to “the Cardinal” in tonight’s paper.

They is all my fault.

After further review, the ruling on the field of a style change is confirmed. Joseph Beyda will be charged with his third and final timeout of the half. Tell him to pick up his challenge flag at jbeyda ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Joseph Beyda

Joseph Beyda is the executive editor of The Stanford Daily. Previously he has worked as the football editor, a sports desk editor, the paper's summer managing editor and a beat reporter for football, baseball and women's soccer. He co-authored The Daily's recent football book, "Rags to Roses," and covered the soccer team's national title run for the New York Times. Joseph is a junior from Cupertino, Calif. majoring in Electrical Engineering. To contact him, please email jbeyda "at" stanford.edu.
  • CyclingKen

    Go Card?

  • N

    Great clincher