Most of my stress from the last two weeks has been caused by the seemingly simple task of registering for classes. But as I try to maneuver through the endless timing conflicts, I understand the way I organize my schedule will have a lasting impact on this semester. With too many classes jammed next to each other, I risk losing focus by the last one. Travel should be minimized, as hurried trips from 122nd Street to Hamilton are a surefire way to zap my energy. Additionally, I want to spread out my workload across days and semesters.
The folks who make the Ivy League calendar may not have to navigate SSOL, but the impact of the schedules they string together is similar and just as significant.
One major complication is the need to schedule games to accommodate academics. This is more or less why schedules do not vary much each year and why the majority of games are played over weekends.
Last spring, Columbia baseball suffered agonizing losses to open each of its first two weekends. In all likelihood, such defeats were emotionally draining and perpetuated the disappointing start that ended up being the team’s demise. This is what can happen when a team has to play four games every weekend.
Next season, the opening weekend will again carry added importance, since the Lions would like a good start in order to ease the burden of playing on the road the following two weeks. Spending a weekend busing from New York to Harvard and then to Yale gives the road team a disadvantage, and with such a short season, every game is important—each loss piles more pressure on the remaining games.
This impact of opening games carries over to other Ivy sports. In football, the opening Ivy loss to Princeton was critical because Columbia faced much more formidable opponents in the following Ivy games. The Lions could never dig out of the hole they dug to start off the season, despite having the apparent advantage of facing the top four Ivy teams at home and the bottom-half Ivy teams on the road.
Next season will be an even tougher task for Light Blue football, when the team will have to travel to perennial powers Harvard and Penn, where they seemed a little spooked and out of place in 2010. However, in the first major change to the Ivy schedule since the turn of the century, Columbia will host Yale, handing the Lions four winnable games in 2012 on their home turf, where they played their best football last season. Thus, the Ivy opener against Princeton and homecoming against the Big Green become all the more important in determining the course of the season. Additionally, the change from Fordham to Marist in the season-opener should help Coach Pete Mangurian get off to a 1-0 start.
Meanwhile, the basketball schedule (both men’s and women’s) has been shaken up this year due to conflicts with Princeton’s final exam period (which, still in progress, gives us another reason to be thankful we are not attending school in Jersey). Consequently, instead of the men’s team opening the season against Cornell as usual, it started off facing the Killer P’s. Penn and Princeton lived up to their name, killing almost all the momentum the Lions had gained from taking 11 of 12 games in the nonconference play preceding the Light Blue’s conference start. Columbia played tough but let leads slip away and fell just short in nearly identical games.
If the games had not been played during winter break—as they were scheduled this year—a greater student turnout likely would have given the Lions more of a home-court advantage. Hopefully, with that in mind, the athletics program will try to avoid such an occurrence in the future. Such a weekend probably would not have been as devastating if placed further into Ivy play, but instead, it stalled the Lions when gaining momentum mattered most. Now at 1-2, the Light Blue must travel to all seven other Ivy schools in the next five weeks, with only one weekend at Levien.
Another interesting scheduling result due to Princeton’s exam schedule is that the Tigers will resume conference play against Penn next Monday after a 16-day break. Columbia’s only post-Thanksgiving nonconference loss came after an 18-day layoff, and if that’s not evidence enough, you can just ask the Packers what too much rest can do to a team. Routine is especially important in the Ivy League, since you have to be prepared to play on back-to-back nights.
I probably should also mention the women’s team faced a brutal task opening the season at Ivy favorite Princeton, but the way the Lions beat themselves (see turnovers) in their first two games proved they have a lot to fix before they can beat any opponent the schedule throws at them.
If only the Light Blue could use CULPA to know what to expect before each game. Alas, both basketball teams will come to realize there is no easy A in the Ivy League in 2012.
Ryan Young is a Columbia College sophomore majoring in economics-statistics. He is a sports broadcaster for WKCR who wants to congratulate the Giants on another incredible run to the Super Bowl.