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MIT: Show Some Pride in Your Teams

By Yong-yi Zhu

COLUMNIST

There are two kinds of people in this world: normal people and sports people. I happen to fall in the latter category. It’s quite sad in many ways.

Instead of thinking about when the next problem set is due, you think about how to work your next problem set into that night’s Red Sox game. Instead of thinking about what to eat for dinner, you think about how to get the meal on the table just as the game is starting so that you don’t miss any of it.

Yeah, we are a pathetic race. Our priorities are very out of whack. Bill James, a baseball analyst, describes our predicament fairly well: “Now, look, both of my parents died of cancer. It would be very easy for me to say that cancer research is more important to me than baseball -- but I think about cancer research a few times a month; I think about baseball virtually every waking hour of my life” (Michael Lewis, Moneyball).

It’s true, we don’t seek to create sense of our lives, we simply live it through baseball, basketball, football, ESPN, and whatever we can get our hands on. In fact, there have been people who have named their children after ESPN commentators or professional sports players. Once again, our priorities are very out of whack.

When two sports people get together, it’s difficult to get them apart again because they simply do not stop jabbering about sports. Trust me, I’ve done it.

However, when normal people and sports people get together, often times they will not understand each other. I don’t proclaim to understand how a person can do work or go watch a movie on the night of game six of the World Series. I don’t proclaim to understand how someone cannot be completely obsessed with the Super Bowl.

This brings me to the reason why I am writing: MIT and its lack of sports people. I guess it makes sense, we are all academically inclined.

True, during the Red Sox run, much of the school was infused with the spirit that the rest of Boston adopted. People were sitting in front of TVs, getting score reports during tests, and just plain caring about the team. Students here were fans for once.

Believe me, it’s not too often that the MIT body becomes sports fans. After the Red Sox’s loss, the “obsession” with baseball suddenly stopped. It appears that the fans were not rooting for the Sox but rather for the city of Boston. The attachment wasn’t to the players and the team but to their proximity to a stadium and to a city.

Also, an incident at MIT is the main reason I thought about commenting on the lack of sports people at MIT. The other day, I received an e-mail about a soccer game that was going on during the weekend. I opened the e-mail expecting a mere flyer about the match; however, what I received in addition to a flyer was an ad to make posters to bring to the game. The best poster at the event would receive some sort of prize. Of course, the posters could not be negative in any way.

Clearly, there is a need for more spirit at the soccer games and more support for the players. Apparently, there must to be some sort of incentive, a bribe almost, to get fans to come out to the games. This I found rather disturbing and disgusting as a sports person. Do we have so little pride that the only reason we would go to a game is to get free food? Or a gift certificate?

Sports is all about pride. Without pride, nobody would care which team they rooted for and which team they hated. Without pride, there is no sense of hurt when a team loses, or what is far worse, when a team does not draw adequate attendance.

This lack of pride kills some of everyone’s enthusiasm, the athletes included. Sure, they take satisfaction in their performance on the field, but without support from the fans, their performance goes unnoticed. Once again, I don’t proclaim to understand how we can let these sports suffer by not noticing them.

But I guess I’m just a sports person who doesn’t understand actions of regular people.