The Daily Princetonian against football was one the most anticipated dodgeball matchups in recent memory. Here is my personal narrative of this epic struggle.
Part 1: Prologue – What cruel god has condemned us so?
David vs. Goliath is an understatement. This was the powerful army vs. the weak few. The well endowed vs. the lacking in strength. This was a mismatch never before seen in Princeton athletics, a battle lost before it started.
I speak, of course, of The Daily Princetonian’s fight against football.
I always thought of myself as the coaching type. What I lack in physical prowess (see: every possible physical ability there is), I make up for in my ability to empower. I am a fearless leader of troops. I’ve spent the last two months turning my ragtag group of sports writers into a top ranking sports section – surely I could turn the 'Prince' team into a formidable squad.
I suppose I watch too much Friday Night Lights. I’m no Coach Taylor. The odds were never in my favor. My idealism got the best of me — it blinded me to the ways of the world.
I led a pregame chant. My teammates were around me, cheering wildly as we prepared for the fight of our lives. Perhaps, I thought to myself, this is what it’s like to be a varsity athlete. I was pumped. I was hyped. In that moment, I could’ve led my team against any opponent.
Pride, it seems, goeth before the fall.
Part 2: On the court, and out of luck
Have you ever been to the zoo, and looked at a hungry lion before it is fed? It looks around with greedy eyes. Once it is given its food, it thinks of nothing else but to devour the tasty morsel in front of it. The lion eviscerates its meal, bit by bit by bit.
The football team does not consist of animals. But they were hungry. These lions (or rather, these tigers) saw a meal and were ready to pounce. I, the ignorant prey, was up to now unaware. The beautiful bird of hope still fluttered in my hardened chest.
I looked around me. Facial expressions ranged from still unbroken happiness to the “I just got my math midterm back” expression. The latter group had already braced itself for the slaughter ahead. The former remained innocent, the idea of defeat having not yet sunken into their minds.
Eternities seemed to pass before that first whistle blew. I noticed one dodgeball in particular, a medium-sized, orange one. It struck the perfect balance between aerodynamic toss-ability and necessary size for me to block oncoming attacks. I stared at it incessantly, planning my exact attack scheme. In my mind, I still held onto that fleeing hope of victory, that the 'Prince' would overcome the odds set before it.
The painful truth was, I was that dodgeball. A round, foamy object, at the mercy of others.
Reality dragged me from the safe solace of my inner thoughts. The whistle had blown. The games had begun. Our time in the tournament had run out.
Part 3: Struck from afar, as a dream withers and dies
For the minutes before the whistle had blown, I had plotted out every move I would make down to a tee. Which balls I would scoop up, which players seemed most vulnerable, where I would aim, etc. My chess playing skills had caused me to plan a strategy many, many moves ahead.
All this planning came to naught. The instinct for self-preservation took over in the opening seconds of the game. I froze, staying behind as the football team armed itself for our destruction.
As the cherry blossom petals on a rainy April afternoon, we fell swift and hard. Junior Chamsi Hssaine was the first to fall. Noble Chamsi, the Protesilaus in our Trojan War, your service was commendable — your time in action, brief.
The bloodbath ensued all around me. Comrade after comrade fell as the football players unleashed those cannons they call biceps on our slight frames. As if transported to Ovid’s "Metamorphoses," the men and women of the 'Prince' were transformed — not into animals or trees, but into targets. We seemed to become just another step in the football team’s spring training, unwitting players in a practice game.
My aforementioned instincts for self-preservation had shut me down. I was a shell of the fearless leader that had hyped his team a few minutes previously. It was perhaps my greatest moment of shame as a sports editor — I failed to guide my team when they needed me the most.
Perhaps my sense of decorum got the better of me. Or perhaps I had abandoned the desire to continue on and wanted to go out in a blaze of glory. Whatever madness came over me, I rushed up to grab a ball of my own. I could not lead until I became willing to throw myself into the fray.
Your favorite writer was not slain just then. I retreated into safer territory, ball in tow and ready to single-handedly turn the tide of this game. Epic poems would be written about me. I would be the star of campus. Miles Hinson — Dodgeball Hero. Front page news of the 'Prince.'
Just as Princeton killed my ego, so the football team killed my dream. I was sniped on the left side, by some faceless member of football. I never saw his face; I wonder if he saw mine. I wonder if he relished my scream of anguish, the manifestation of my visceral despair.
Part 4: The helpless spectator
I can’t tell what’s worse: the agonizing instance of being taken out of the game, or the drawn out torture of watching your team crash and burn. With me, the 'Prince' stood little chance. Without me, they stood a good amount less. We stood up as well as a one-legged seat. 'Prince' staff members were dropping like flies.
Maybe seconds passed. Perhaps it was minutes. Time seems to become indiscernible when you’re watching such a fascinating disaster. The last man remaining was sophomore Jason Choe, our Hector against a sea of Achilles. He stood for perhaps a minute on his own. I believe he even managed to take out a few players.
He, like the rest of us, was overwhelmed. The football team wound up for a final onslaught of simultaneous, well-aimed throws that spelled doom for our last warrior.
The team walked away, many rejoicing that the slaughter was over, others with a shell-shocked look in their eyes.
Part 5: Regroup and revamp
The damage has been done. Our team has been battered, bruised, but not broken.
Training for next year’s tournament shall start Monday dawn. I shall contact women's basketball coach Courtney Banghart immediately and see if she will coach us to dodgeball greatness.
The ‘Prince’ will rise again.