Two basketball games, one night. In one arena, thousands of college students waved green construction-paper leaves, taunting an opposing team for their star's quitting over charges of marijuana use.
At the other stadium, somewhere over a thousand collegians jumped up and down and yelled repeatedly that their opposition "sucks."
Which crowd would you rather be a part of?
The first, I say.
Which crowd was Princeton's?
The second, you know.
Last Saturday night's Dartmouth game was probably my last time in the stands for a Princeton basketball game as an undergraduate. But after reading The New York Times' account of Duke's game versus UCLA, I wished I'd been in Durham last weekend, not Jadwin.
I'm definitely one of this season's fair-weather fans (Saturday's game, in addition to being my last, was also my second), but I'm not sure what kind of fan I am. Am I the rowdy heckler, prone to donning an orange t-shirt and war paint, or am I a "Smart Fan," one of that new group of civilized student spectators that managed to come out of the woodwork just in time for the home season to be over?
I'm probably somewhere in between, and I hope – having witnessed my two games – that my fellow Tiger fans will find this happy medium as well.
In short, any cheer that uses a form of "to suck" is not creative and is beneath our Ivory Tower. Booing, I was told in elementary school, is unsportsmanlike.
Let's not fault Princeton's fans, however. Most of us are new to this cheering thing. In fact, most of us are new to the attendance thing as well. You can't expect rookies like me to enter Jadwin armed with rapier ripostes.
But that doesn't mean we can't. We know we're smart kids – in fact, if you believe the USG's grade-inflation arguments, we're the smartest Princetonians ever. So let's get our noodles in gear.
As we head into March Madness, now is the time for all Princetonians to train. We must hone our cheering skills just as those gladiators in uniform have honed their ball-handling.
Just as Duke looked to us for campus architecture, perhaps we should look to them for tips on conducting ourselves as fans. There is nothing wrong with ribbing the opposition a little bit, as long as it's done right.
With a little study of the ways of those Cameron Crazies, we Tigers – the Jadwin Jumpers? – can prove our fans deserve the same accolades our team is earning.
So let's get cracking. You kids know how to do research. Pull out some trivia about our prospective NCAA tournament opponents and let's throw some stuff together. Construct some props. Hey, how 'bout a cheer in Latin?
Let's not be unprepared when we get to . . . uh, where's the Final Four? (I always think it's in Albuquerque.) When Mitch, Steve and the boys go head to head against the Blue Devils on the parquet, the rest of us need to be ready to rip from the risers.
Here's a starting point: Richard Nixon went to law school at Duke.