Smells Like School Spirit


Dowbrigade salutes college hockey as one of the last bastions of all
that was once good about American collegiate sports, an endangered balance
of raw athletic talent, pure athletic competition, authentic academic
endeavor, and the wild card possibility of becoming rich and famous in
the fabulous world of professional sports. The game is fast and furious,
the skill level high, and the athletes are real college students, not
minor-league professionals looking to get to the bigs as quickly as

College football has become a moneymaking machine, eating up big, strong
kids from across America and spitting out a few sparkling, hardened jewels
along with legions of broken bodies, skewered psyches and wasted lives.  Graduation
rates are criminally low and the kids themselves are used, abused, and

College basketball is even more of a joke, with non-existent academic
standards and daily news of recruiting scandals, sex parties, players
arrested for bizarre crimes, and coaches flipping out or getting fired.
Drugs are reportedly rampant, and not just among the players. More than
any other single sport, basketball is responsible for robbing an entire
generation of African-Americans of their doctors and lawyers and architects
and politicians, talented and dynamic young men seduced by ghetto culture
and the cruelly unrealistic dream of superstardom into trading their
futures for a handful of costume bling-bling by spending tens of thousands
of hours polishing hoops moves rather than preparing for the SAT.

But hockey, somehow, retains a purity and promise now sorely missing
from most big-time college sports.  It is passingly ironic that
in hockey, known as a somewhat brutal and blue-collar sport, a higher
percentage of professional players have finished college than in football
and basketball, and a higher percentage of NCAA varsity players overall
graduate. And they have actual majors, and take real courses, in anticipation
of an eventual career off the ice. Kinda reminds the Dowbrigade of his
own days as an intercollegiate athlete, occasionally attending class
by day, tending bar at night, while defending the honor of his school
on the target shooting circuit as a member of the Rifle Team.

Tonight is the first round of the annual Boston Beanpot hockey tournament
between the Four Powers of Northeastern college hockey. Boston College,
the Ecclesiastic cloister down Comm Ave., Harvard (full disclosure: Dowbrigade’s
alma mater), BU (ibid, Dowbrigade’s current employer) and Northeastern
face off at the Fleet Center for a bucket of beans. Then next Monday
night the two winners of tonight’s game will play for all the beans.

We just heard the score of the first game – Boston University 5, Northeastern
2.  The nightcap between Harvard and BC is going on now.  We
told our students to tune in if they get cable, on the theory that hockey
is much easier to understand than American Football.  As a famous
sportswriter whose name escapes me once said when asked how to watch
a hockey game. "Just follow the puck."

from AP

1 Comment

  1. LSU football

    August 31, 2009 @ 1:51 pm


    LSU doesn’t have hockey but I would love to see some Tiger hockey players in purple and gold. Great article!