Monday, August 27, 2007

Welcome Freshmen FAQ!

Unpack some school spirit while you're at it!

The class of 2011 has arrived on campus for the beginning of freshmen/first-year/whatever orientation. While the advisers and r.a.'s will probably be filling those kids' heads with lots of borderline information, I believe it's my job to let them all know about the football situation here at Columbia.

First off, I shouldn't start by treating you like children. So the "Roar Lions FAQ Part 1" I wrote up earlier this summer for all Columbia students, fans and alumni is worth reading.

And for a look at how a fictional member of the class of 2010 reacted to his first encounters with the football team last year check these three links:

The Freshman and the Old Alum part 1

The Freshman and the Old Alum part 2

The Freshman and the Old Alum part 3

But you're the class of 2011 dammit, so you deserve some special attention of your own. Here's your custom-made class 2011 Columbia Football FAQ!

1) Wait, Columbia has a football team?

Damn straight. Columbia was the 3rd college in America to play football, beginning in 1870. With the exception of a 10-year ban from 1905-15, it's been played here ever since.

Aerial view of Columbia's old football field, right on the middle of campus, (circa 1920)

2) But where's the football stadium? I spent two hours last night wandering around the east side of campus looking for it until someone told me I was in a place called Morningside Park.

Wow, you're a brave soul. Anyway, the Lions play at Wien Stadium about 100 blocks north of campus at the Baker Field athletic complex. It's a beautiful spot and since you don't have a car, its one drawback, (lack of sufficient parking), is not your problem.

The best way to get to the games from campus is to take the #1 UPTOWN train to 215th street and then walk three blocks to Wien. Before you start whining about the trip, (you should leave about 35 minutes or so to get there), let me let you in on an little secret: the subway is your friend. You will NOT enjoy your four years at CU if you don't start getting used to using the subway early and often. There is no better way to get around this city, NONE. Yes, it would be nice to walk to the games at a spot right on campus, but it can also be fun to get out of the Morningside Heights neighborhood once in a awhile.

This is where we roll now (CREDIT: CU Athletics)

3) Um, I heard the team is really bad... like the Chicago Cubs of the Ivy League. Is that true?

The last 40 years have been mostly bad for this proud college team. After giving the sports world some of its greatest stars like Lou Gehrig and Sid Luckman, Columbia started to become a consistent loser in the mid-1960's. Our last winning season was in 1996 when the team went 8-2, and our last Ivy League title was in 1961.

But before that the Lions actually won the Rose Bowl in January 1934, and ended Army's then-record winning streak with a huge win at Baker Field in 1947. More recently, the Lions have boasted some great individual stars, like former NFL All-Pro Marcellus Wiley.

But count yourselves as lucky, last year's very young Lion team went 5-5 and is obviously on the rise. You got here at the right time, perhaps the best time in two generations, if you want to see a team that can win consistently.

4)I'm a big sports fan, isn't Ivy League football going to look like high school to me?

Not even close. All the Ivy football teams use a much more sophisticated system than anything you saw in high school. Columbia in particular uses intricate and innovative formations on offense and defense. Football experts who watch Ivy football for the first time are always amazed by how professional the games look.

The contests are also exciting. Most Ivy games are close and filled with big plays. And each Ivy team has at least one player in the NFL right now, so there's likely to be 2-3 future pros on the field at any time. Is it Ohio St.-Michigan? No, but it is great football no matter how you slice it.

5) But I think football is a sexist, warlike exercise that helps to oppress the indigenous people of New Guinea.

Congratulations, you are already irrelevant at age 18. Do yourself a favor and get deprogrammed as soon as possible, otherwise you could end up working for the UN.... or worse, Brown University.

6) What else is there to do at the games?

There's a quirky, funny band that's worth listening to from time to time, (depending on how original they're going to be with their humor and whether they use their wit to support the team instead of bash it). And the cheerleaders are great too. Basically, being at the games is a great way to enjoy some time outdoors sans laptops, books, and all the other stuffy stuff that will be your life for the next four years and beyond.

7) Oh yeah, who the Hell are you?

I'm a class of '92 alum which means I am positively ancient at age 36, (I was a freshman the year you were born). When I came to campus, the Lions were in the midst of a 44-game losing streak that they finally ended at my first homecoming against Princeton. I've been a huge fan of the team since I first stepped foot at CU, and it's been a lot of fun despite the lack of championships. Of course, I expect that drought will end sometime soon.

I'm also going to be doing the color commentary on the radio broadcasts of the games that I suggest you tune into when the Lions are on the road, (when we're at home, just come to the games, okay?).

8) Who plays on the team, a bunch of dumb jocks?

Hmm... I guess when you went to the sensitivity training that taught you how to not be sexist, racist, homophobic, etc. they somehow forgot to tell you to not be prejudiced against athletes. I'm SHOCKED, SHOCKED! Seriously, the football players are all excellent students, a good number of whom could have been accepted to CU even without athletics. Don't listen to ANYONE on campus who tells you otherwise or tells you to look down on anyone before you get the facts yourself. This should be obvious on what's supposed to be such a diverse and inclusive campus, but you'll soon learn that everyone has the potential to be bigoted. Be unique and buck that trend now!

9) Okay, I'm sold. When's the first game?

The first game is a mere 19 days from now, September 15th at Fordham at 6pm. I'll have tips on how to get to Fordham from campus a little closer to game night, but there may be a shuttle bus provided by the University as well. This is a special game because it's for the Liberty Cup, a trophy that was made in 2002 to remember the victims of 9/11 from both Columbia and Fordham, (and there were quite a few, I'm sorry to say). Columbia has won three of the five Liberty Cup games so far, including the last two.

10) Are we going to win some more games this year?

I think so, and you can actually help make that happen by showing up to the games and supporting the team on campus as well. The players have been working hard all offseason and they deserve your appreciation.


At Tue Aug 28, 12:13:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake: nice feature and your good humor comes through as always. However, since you are impatient with people whose impressions of Columbia football are ouf of date, I have to let you know that your quip about Morningside Park is equally out of date. I suggest you spend an hour some day at the top of the stairs at 116th and Morningside Drive. You will be astonished by the number of students, staff, faculty and community members who enjoy walking through Morningside Park to get to and from Columbia from their homes in South Harlem or to reach the A,B,C, and D trains at 116th Street and 125th Street.

As you know there is a group called Friends of Morningside Park who have accomplished great things in restoring the park. The dog run in the park is always in active use by residents from Morningside Heights and South Harlem. This week on Thursday 8/30 the parks department is breaking ground on a $2 million reconstruction of the playground at 116th Street in the park. It's going to a hit with neighbors from above and below the park. You can read about concerts and movies in the park and see views of the park at the Friends website:

As for South Harlem, it's back as a desirable and attractive place ot live. Give yourself a walking tour some weekend--you'll be impressed.. Anyone who is skeptical can check out the website for Soha118 at 118th and Frederick Douglass Blvd (, just one of the new condo developments in the neighborhood in addition to all the restored brownstones.


At Tue Aug 28, 12:22:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...


Thanks for that info!

Actually I have noticed lots of changes for the better at Morningside Park... but wandering around there alone in the middle of the night is not something I would recommend there or in Central Park, or any park for that matter.

At Tue Aug 28, 05:39:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone know if there is any truth to the rumor that a large hotel chain is trying to purchase property adjacent to Morningside Park to construct a much-needed hotel. If ever an area needed a hotel it's Morningside Heights/South Harlem.

At Tue Aug 28, 05:59:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, did you notice that there's a new name on the roster, one Stephen Hancock of De La Salle High School in San Franciso. Do we know anything about him? De La Salle is a perennial high school football power in Northern California. At the very least you can assume that he's been well-coached and knows what it takes to be a winner.

At Tue Aug 28, 06:26:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stephen Hancock's valedictory speech at De La Salle. I'd say he's got the right attitude for Columbia football.

At Tue Aug 28, 07:09:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If your handle is Leonidas you have to like Hancock's valedictory speech, which is all about being a good Spartan (the school mascot is the Spartan) and even quotes Leonidas. Just remember, Stephen--the name Leonidas is already taken around here. However, I prefer to think of Columbia as producing Athenians, not Spartans.

Regarding hotels in Harlem--whether any of these materialize or not remains to be seen, but several are being planned. There was going to be a Courtyard by Marriott at Park and 125th next to the train station but that died, and I think all of these are pretty speculative given the mortgage market. 124th and 8th/Frederick Douglass Blvd would be closest to campus of the three.

From the NY Sun of August 2 2007:

"More than 400 condominiums could be built in three new hotels planned for construction in Harlem. Demolition is under way for Hotel 124, which may be flagged under W Hotels's new brand, aloft. The hotel, a development of the Lam Group, is located on the site of the former Associated supermarket at 124th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard. The 130,000-square-foot development is expected to house the boutique hotel of about 130 rooms and 100 condominiums. Last week, construction began for the Harlem Hotel, located at West 125th Street off Fifth Avenue. According to real estate sources, the hotel may have 160 rooms. The developer has not made a decision about whether to build residential condominiums on the top floors. A third hotel, which may be either an Intercontinental Hotel or its new Indigo boutique brand, would contain 130 condominiums and would be built on the site of the former Victoria Theater on West 125th Street, adjacent to the Apollo Theater. Another proposal for the site includes a boutique hotel developed by Ian Schrager with condos at the top of the building."


At Tue Aug 28, 12:39:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eloquent speech. I can see why he was the valedictorian of De La Salle. How many valedictorians and salutorians do we have in the freshman football class anyway?

Thanks Leondas for the Hotel information on 124th and 125th Streets. However, I heard a rumor that a large hotel chain was trying to purchase land for a new hotel to the south or east of Morningside Park which would be within walking distance to Columbia. That seems to be an excellent location for a new hotel given the proximity to Columbia's campus and the many cultural institutions in the area. It's unbelievable that there is no hotel close to Columbia. As you said, this may not be the best time to build a new hotel, but once the mortgage market improves, I can see that happening. Whoever builds the hotel will make a fortune.

At Tue Aug 28, 10:26:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Chuck B '92 said...

Great summation of Columbia football Jake! I wanted to mention that there is a Wiki entry on "The Liberty Cup" that folks may want to check out which explains a little bit about the Fordham/Columbia rivalry (which I contributed to):

At Wed Aug 29, 09:04:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

a hotel at 110th just west of CPW would be a great addition to the neighborhood.


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