Thursday, September 19, 2013

Jotthe Kannappan: What does football mean to Stanford?

A couple of weekends ago, many Stanford students and alumni gathered together in the Leland Stanford Stadium to watch the first home game of the 2013 football season. For a relatively uneventful game, there wan an enormous turn-out. Tickets sold out, and Stanford Stadium was occupied by a record number of people. And of course, Stanford won, students were elated, and the spirit of a new season was in the air.

About a week later, Howard Wolf mentioned football in terms of a major alumni interest. People were very excited to be coming together as alumni, and were making a record number of donations. Interestingly, he said that the reasoning behind this action was football, and that we suddenly had a good team again. But, he mentioned that alumni are proud of our football team because they are students first, and then athletes, and superior athletes at that. Alumni believe in the idea that if we prove that students can excel in both areas, we invalidate schools who recruit athletes and make them play without ever giving them an education.

Today, when we visited Leland Stanford Stadium for the insider's tour, it became clear that football is an industry, and the university reaps and enormous profit from out team. Yet, what is amazing is that the stadium was built on alumni donations alone, before our team got good. The alumni donated the money because they were informed that we wanted to pay off the stadium while building it rather than after so that they could invest the money made in to the team. As Ray Purpur said, this beyond anything proves that "maybe we weren't as proud of our win-loss record, but we were always proud of our student athletes."

So what does football mean to Stanford?

It's a cultural experience. We love standing on the bleachers, doing our cheers, and watching the band perform. We love screaming and shouting our love for this amazing place that has touched and changed all of our lives. We love cheering for our peers, our friends, our sons, our players, who represent Stanford as an academic institution that could annihilate you on the field.

No comments: