Saturday, March 1, 2008

Senior Day Reflections 3/1/2008

So this is it – that was the feeling I got this morning as I awoke bright and early in my tent. This will be my last home game of senior year and last time sleeping in a tent outside Maples. Up till now, senior year hasn’t quite reached the point where I’ve become nostalgic at the realisation that the simplicity and freedoms of college life are coming to an end, and life is going to be very different next year. But as I got up this morning, this notion entered my mind and it’s no surprise that basketball is the trigger.

I’ve come a long way since freshman year where just out of the Singapore Army and freshly exposed to college in the US, I mistakenly believed that classes were the be all and end all of college life. After waiting in a line that stretched all the way to Avery Aquatics and then seeing us lose to an Ike Diogu led Arizona State in my first home Pac-10 game, I figured that spending some time on that Ihum paper might be a better use of my time and would go to games slightly after tip off (when the line was non-existent). I knew of the kids who camped out for games (Albert and Alex were among a group of them) but never really embraced the idea until I got a bit more of college under my belt.

When Senior Day approached, I realised that this would be the last time I’d get to see Rob Little and Nick Robinson play, and decided that I should make the effort to go early. Still, I didn’t know the Branner camp out crew well enough and so stayed up all night and headed out to Maples around 6am that morning. There were a lot of tents out and some beer pong tables from the previous night, but I managed to get a spot in the second row on the far right of the student section. We beat Washington (a future #1 seed), and rushed the court. I rued losing out on previous opportunities (women’s volleyball won a NCAA championship that year) to experience the multitude of top-notch sports that we at Stanford are treated to and often take for granted, and vowed never to make that mistake again. Looking back, Senior Day of freshman year was what converted me into a Cardinalmaniac.

Well now it’s Senior Day of my senior year and I’m so happy that I was able to see the light back then. Sometimes I wish that more people would see it too and we could have a greater fan base. Not to sound judgemental, but I feel that a lot of Stanford students get caught up in that academic over-achieving mode that is absolutely necessary in high school and is what got them into Stanford in the first place, but loses importance (in my mind) in college. If people have other activities that they are more interested in, I have no problem with that. After all, I’m not about to be dragged to the opera or ballet. But for people who actually enjoy watching sports, using studying or work as an excuse doesn’t quite work for me. First of all, studying and work is all about time management. You can make time for sports. Not to sound arrogant but simply show that it can be done, I took 6 classes last quarter (26 units), recruited for a full time job, tutored and did work as a research assistant, and still went to 50 sporting events (which included all our away basketball games, the USC football game and women’s volleyball Final 4 during finals week). I did fine in all aspects (if anything, having so much to do kept me focused) but those sporting memories are going to last a lifetime.

Secondly, a basketball game is not that long. If you look at the marginal cost of those 2 hours (in terms of not studying or not working), it is negligible from a purely rational point of view. What is it really going to impact? Absolutely worst case scenario: it affects your midterm grade by two grades (A to C let’s say), which affects your class grade by one grade, which assuming a 5 unit class is at most 1/36 of your final GPA. For those keeping score, that’s less than 0.03 of your GPA. That should have hardly any effect on getting a job or getting into grad school and has almost no impact on your career path or life (unless you meet a cute girl/guy in the library). But I guess everyone has their own priorities and all I can say, is to each their own. I can’t really complain because at the end of the day, I’m getting a Stanford degree which is superior to a degree from any football/basketball school, but even then, just gets me a first round interview.

Wow, that rant was longer than intended. I guess I feel strongly about Stanford sports and how basketball especially is losing its tradition and fan-dom. Last night was the official 6th Man camp out night and while the turnout was a lot smaller than in previous years (we didn’t need an organised camp out night freshman year because everyone just did), we do have 9 tents set up. More than half contained freshmen and hopefully, just like my experience 3 years ago, today’s game will be their awakening of sorts. In any case, all this reflecting will help me treasure these next couple of hours even more, but it’s time to get out of this tent and have some fun.

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