Monday, November 13, 2006

Excitement on the Banks of the Old Raritan

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - I finally saw Borat yesterday (although I missed Babel, which came out in wider release this weekend), but I will hold off on pooling my thoughts on it for a later entry. (I'm not sure I have a whole lot to say about it that hasn't already been said by others except that I laughed consistently throughout---but of course, why it's as funny as it is is a question worth exploring...just not now.)

Besides...didn't Rutgers have a big college football game last week? Which they won?

Oh yeah, that.

It's sometimes funny how being immersed in a particular environment can turn you around to becoming enthusiastic about something that, under other circumstances, you would normally not feel much enthusiasm about.

Last week's Rutgers-vs.-Louisville was a case in point. Even when Greg Schiano and co. were 5-0, I wasn't exactly jumping out of my figurative seat with excitement, I guess because I've just never had that much school spirit for any school I've ever been to, even this one. Always more important things to be spirited about, I've always told myself.

Yet, with all the hype swirling around the big game Thursday night---with the Daily Targum and other media outlets touting the game as the biggest in the university's history, with then-No. 15 Rutgers facing supposedly their highest-ranked opponent ever (Louisville was ranked No. 3 at the time), and with the game getting national exposure via ESPN---I couldn't help but get caught up a little in the hoopla surrounding the game. I mean, considering the sheer dedication and occasional violent shuffles on display Tuesday morning when tickets for the game went on sale (and sold out in a matter of hours), you knew that this game meant something big to the students here at Rutgers. And on Thursday, with news of classes being cancelled left and right---just because of a friggin' football game---and with students walking around in their scarlet Rutgers T-shirts and hoodies chanting "R-U, R-U, rah rah rah!"---well, maybe I'm just impressionable, and maybe I just like to go along with the crowd (not exactly qualities that makes a good film critic, I realize, unless, I guess, I can provide reasons as to why something popular is worth following), but I couldn't help but feel a little...spirited?

Of course, I'm not ashamed enough to admit that I found the game thrilling from start to finish, even when it seemed like Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm was in a rhythm during most of the first half and when it seemed like there just wasn't enough Ray Rice in that same first half. I'm not ashamed to indulge in verbal flights of fancy for the event: "the stars were aligned, and the weather was perfect (it was unseasonably warm and sunny all day) for what may have been the greatest football game in Rutgers history," something like that. And I'm not ashamed to admit that I was clapping enthusiastically when kicker Jeremy Ito kicked that game-winning 28-yard field goal to cap off the Scarlet Knights' improbable rally to beat the No. 3 team and move up in the BCS standings (they're at No. 6 now, while Louisville is down to No. 10)---this after Ito missed a 33-yarder a few second before but got a second chance thanks to an untimely Louisville offsides penalty. To put it simply: it was awesome.

I don't really care that I wasn't at the stadium to see the game in person, but, hearing the craziness that ensued after the game on College Ave. did fill me with a bit of regret that I didn't try to convince my roommates to drop whatever they were doing and just walk over to College Ave. to join the fun. Who knows? With spirits high, and with school pride seemingly binding people together on-campus, maybe I wouldn't have been nearly as much the wallflower that I usually am at your typical frat party.

Of course, a few days removed from the event, and perhaps you can't help but remember that there are infinitely more important things going on in the world other than college football. Hey, the Democrats scored victories of their own last week when they took the House and (barely) took the Senate. (Damn, was it a great fucking week last week!) And people are still dying in Iraq over a cause that some people still question.

Eh, but hey: we're young, we love our entertainment, and we ought to be allowed to enjoy something like this once in a while without guilt. Let the guilt come later. Last week's game, for at least a couple of days, was really something. And hey, I can at least boast that I was a part of it, and not hearing about it way after the fact. I was there. As that popular American song goes, "No, they can't take that way from me."

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