Sports, Fall, Column

Athletics Make The BC Experience

I arrived at Boston College with very little prior knowledge of the University, let alone the history and lore of its athletics. I am not Irish, my parents did not go here, and I am not from the Greater Boston area, so there was really no reason for me to be interested in the Eagles.

My enrollment was not very deliberate, but, it just sort of happened when the cards fell where they did. It came down to two schools, neither of which I had really, seriously considered: BC and the University of Southern California. At the time, my only exposure to BC was a brief visit for the football game against Northwestern, which was the season opener during my senior year of high school. BC lost, but when my college advisor told me that I needed one more school on my list, I threw out the name, and here I am.

For a semester, I floundered. It seemed pretty clear that BC was not the place for me. I did what most freshmen did—rode the Newton bus, went to football games with people whom I have now mostly fallen out of touch with, and struggled to adjust from the rigid schedule that I had been so used to in high school, where I moved from classes to practice to required formal meals to study halls to bed. I wondered what my life would have been like had I gone the alternate route, opting instead for the USC, greeting everyone I met with a “Fight On.”

During that first semester, I did not put much thought into BC Athletics. I covered a few volleyball games for The Heights, knew that Chris Campbell seemed like a nice guy, and could have told you that I thought—I am pretty sure—that BC’s football team was going to be bad this year. Beyond that, however, I had little knowledge.

Then, as I grew more involved in The Heights, I was encouraged by a mentor to run for a position on the editorial board. Torn between the more attainable copy position and the Assistant Sports job that would be highly contested, I pulled out of the copy election about two hours before it would take place, throwing my hat in the ring for sports and only sports. Despite my god-awful score on the required quiz, I managed to pull off the recitation of a cheesy poem for my election speech in which I used the names of a couple of athletes. All of a sudden, I was thrown face-first into the world of BC Athletics.

With that position came the opportunity for me to finally connect with BC.

I can still remember the feeling I got the first time I walked into the press box for a men’s hockey game. Let it be known that the press box for Conte Forum hockey games is not impressive. It consists of a few half walls, folding chairs, and a long, narrow table that you can barely fit your computer on. Yet, as I settled in and watched people stream into the arena, observed the game time operations of the media relations staff, and finally got to sit in a press conference with Jerry York (by which time I had been informed of his legendary status), I got really, really excited. As the semester went on, I felt my general happiness—not only that which I associated with covering games—grow.

Maybe I am biased because I grew up in a family whose weeknights revolved around watching whichever NHL game happened to be on and whose Saturdays were dominated by Boise State Football. With 20/20 hindsight, though, I can definitively say that as my understanding of the history, operations, and intricacies of BC Athletics improved, I felt more and more like it was the place for me.

It is not like all of these things are glowingly positive, either. I found out about things like the point shaving scandal from the late ’70s, the fact that I had missed BC football’s heyday by a few years, and, most devastatingly of all, that the “Boston”  to which they refer to in the movie Miracle is not, in fact BC, but rather Boston University.

But imagine BC without such a large and, yeah, I will say—despite the lackluster performance of most revenue sports during my time here—successful athletic department. Even if you are not a big sports person—if you cannot exactly follow a football game and have no idea what icing is—everyone can recognize a touchdown or a goal and, more importantly, everyone can experience the feeling that comes along with it, when thousands of people jump to their feet and scream with pride.

I watched a lot of that from the outside, forced into a reserved calm in the press box as I watched the elation in the student section, but, when I started paying attention to the fact that these sports give so many people a reason to love BC, I began to feel like I could love it, too.

Sports do those types of things for people. They inspire excitement, hope, pure glee, and devastating lows when the chances of a title or a perfect season are abruptly lost. Even in those deep falls, though, there are people next to you in the stands or the bar who are feeling exactly the same thing you are. They get you so excited, then they break your heart—but there’s always a chance for a fresh beginning with the start of a new season.

For the past two years, I have filled this space with my takes on what was going on in the sports world, whether it was happening right here at BC or it was somehow loosely related. This is the last time that I will be here with my random reflections, biases, or general fangirldom disguised as an educated opinion. Through that process and the act of both covering games for The Heights and attending them as a member of the student body, I got to see BC Athletics from a few different perspectives. I expressed contrary viewpoints a couple of times, objecting to the idea of unionized athletes or defending the use of what some people called a sexist marketing strategy with the “Be A Dude” hashtag. For some reason, though, I never got the hang of being critical.

Call it my non-confrontational nature or straight up cowardice, but I do not think that is it. Behind my observations of the flaws or downfalls of BC Athletics, be they administrative or on the field, there is also an understanding that my development of a perspective on BC Athletics is what finally made me feel connected to the University. From the monumental highs of Beanpot wins, a Heisman contender, and a couple of enormous upsets to the disappointing moments when loss after loss stacked up or players read off of a script in press conferences, sports give me, and thousands of others, a point to rally around, and are a big reason why I’m still here.

Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Editor

November 20, 2014