Princeton’s men’s and women’s basketball teams were on fire this season. Both teams made the Ivy Madness playoffs, and the men’s team reached the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament. The teams’ success sparked national press coverage, enthusiastic alumni engagement, and a surge of Princeton student pride.
We asked our columnists for their Reactions on Princeton’s basketball success — the school spirit it has inspired and the issues it shines a light on.
Princeton pride should drive us to fight for change
By Mohan Setty-Charity, Senior Columnist
The journey and successes of Princeton’s men’s and women’s basketball teams this year brought about one of those rare bursts of tremendous Princeton pride. Students showed up to watch parties, wore black and orange, and posted about their school spirit on social media. This is a departure from how people usually interact with the University: on a day-to-day basis, I hear much more about people’s challenges and irritations with Princeton than their appreciation for the school. But our joy can coexist with our exhaustion and disappointment.
In fact, our pride in having the basketball teams representing us on a national stage should fuel our desire to change our University for the better. Sports have the power to connect us: we came together to cheer our team on, even those of us who didn’t know all the players and even those of us who don’t follow basketball. What were we cheering for? The team who was going to represent us, and represent the University. We were joyful because we care about our school, and want to see our players succeed. It is with the same passion that we should be critical: we should strive to build a school that we can be proud of, too. Princeton is not a perfect institution, but through a continued commitment to better our school, we can continue to be proud.
Mohan Setty-Charity is a junior in the economics department. He grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts, and can be reached at email@example.com.
This isn’t ‘High School Musical’ — athletes can do many things
By Abigail Rabieh, Head Opinion Editor
“Ballers and Scholars” is the informal motto that a popular Princeton Instagram account, @BarstoolPrinceton, has adopted to describe the men’s basketball team’s recent success. The national media has salivated over this merging of identities, too. The idea of star athletes also completing p-sets and theses has captivated the nation, and Princeton has capitalized on it. But gawking at ‘nerd-jocks,’ or more simply, the idea of intelligent athletes, does a disservice to the rest of the players in the March Madness tournament. It’s no secret that Princeton is an academically rigorous school, so I was surprised to see the nation’s seeming surprise over the fact that these athletes are also graduating with degrees; but so are most other players in the March Madness tournament.
We should not be capitalizing on a narrative that student-athletes here are much better than student-athletes at other schools — it’s downright shameful to see Princeton students deriding the academic qualifications or experiences of opposing athletes. Furthermore, Princeton athletes, just like Princeton students at large, are extremely impressive on and off the playing surface. Expressing surprise or pride in this fact only serves to continue a sophomoric narrative that one can’t be successful in athletics and academics in a way that you can be with dance, writing, entrepreneurship, or any other endeavor that Princetonians undertake.
Abigail Rabieh is a prospective history major and sophomore from Cambridge, MA. She is the head Opinion editor at the ‘Prince’ and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @AbigailRabieh.
Basketball isn’t the only sport that should invigorate school spirit
By Prince Takano, Columnist
The unexpected victories and successes of the Princeton men’s basketball team in the NCAA playoffs sparked more school spirit than I’d ever seen before. While the basketball hype was certainly merited, there are other sports where Princeton athletes work just as hard but never receive the same amount of attention or support. This is a major opportunity: Princeton students should support other sports teams, too. After all, we are ranked the No. 13 athletic program among the 330 NCAA Division I schools in America. Basketball might be one of America’s most popular sports, but let’s not forget the importance of other sports and athletes representing our school on campus and beyond.
Prince Takano is a junior from Los Angeles majoring in politics. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Build a long-lasting culture of school pride through celebratory social media
By Christopher Lidard, Technology Columnist
Moments of pride like both basketball teams’ historic seasons are key to building school spirit, unity, and shared identity. For long-lasting and meaningful impact, we need to leverage social media before, during, and after celebratory occasions — and for more than just sports teams.
People often curate their social media to display group affinity. In turn, this public pride encourages others to display their membership to the “in crowd” more prominently as well. When our sports teams experience big wins, we see a barrage of celebratory story posts. Perhaps this is partly to signal to our peers at Princeton that we are in touch with the moment, but it also seemed partially oriented at our friends at different schools — showing those unaware of the victory how great it is to be a Princeton student.
Flexing on the Yalies we know from high school is fine, but we can do better: if we used social media to celebrate our high-achieving classmates and student organizations more frequently, it would feel less like just jumping on the bandwagon when people do post in support. The more people remain informed, tracking the success of Princetonians throughout their seasons and competitions, the more invested they will be in the success of the school as a whole.
This increased investment in social media presence will have a secondary benefit: it’ll shift Princeton students’ bonding over their shared experience online away from anonymous complaining towards appreciation for their classmates, celebration, and school pride. And it could help build a culture of positivity on social media — the white whale of the Internet.
Christopher Lidard is a sophomore from outside Baltimore, Md. A computer science concentrator and tech policy enthusiast, his columns focus on technology issues on campus and at large. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Princeton should’ve supported school spirit around our big basketball moment
By Julianna Lee, Columnist
At 6 p.m. on March 24, Firestone was packed with students working on their essays and problem sets. People went to dinner in the dining halls as usual. But life should not have been “normal” on Friday, or even the week leading up to it: Princeton’s basketball team was playing in the NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time since 1967. Last Friday’s game against Creighton was a big deal.
But what did Princeton do about it? Basically nothing. There were no pep rallies. The band didn’t parade around campus leading up to Friday. There were no celebratory festivals in conjunction with the wider town of Princeton. There were no organized efforts to send students to Louisville to watch the big game. The closest we came to school spirit was the watch party at Whig Hall. We enjoyed Whig hall decked out in Princeton’s colors, but the building was far too small to hold the number of students who turned out, and many were put in a lecture hall serving as the “overflow room.”
It is rare that Princeton as a whole comes together around shared success. This makes athletics incredibly important: they bring the campus together and build school spirit. When the administration failed to provide the Princeton community with enough opportunities to celebrate, students missed out on the community that could have been built around the game. Princeton prides itself on its academic rigor, and we tend to spend our Friday afternoons in Firestone. But for one historic weekend, Princeton should have done everything it could do to build up hype.
Julianna Lee is a sophomore and prospective politics major from Demarest, N.J. She can be reached by email at email@example.com.
Athletes and non-athletes should get the chance to know one another
By Aly Rashid, Contributing Columnist
This Friday, Princeton students displayed an unprecedented amount of school spirit, gathering in Whig Hall to watch the men’s basketball team give it their all in the Sweet 16. But how many Princeton students knew the athletes they were cheering on?
Chances are, most Princeton students have no personal connection with the team they so proudly gathered for because Princeton life often separates athletes and non-athletes. The separation begins during orientation. While the rest of the class disembarks on their small group experiences, Fall varsity athletes stay behind to train. They may also miss opening zee group activities, widening the gap between athletes and the rest of the student body.
The burst of school pride and unity that March Madness has brought are truly great. But we should aim for this unity to last beyond the game, instead of going back to being “students” and “student-athletes” as if they were mutually exclusive categories.
Aly Rashid (he/him) is a prospective SPIA major in the Class of 2026 from Lahore, Pakistan. He serves as a contributing columnist and Associate Editor of the Newsletter for the ‘Prince.’ Outside of the ‘Prince,’ he is Deputy Captain of the Princeton Model UN Team and International Orientation leader at the Davis IC.