A Few Minutes with Andy Mooney
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association. That sounds French, you say; you don’t trust it. Well, fine, but we haven’t even opened the box yet. What if I just gave you the acronym? FIFA. FEE-fah. Yeah, I know you dig that alliteration.
I didn’t much follow soccer before playing EA’s FIFA series, and I didn’t particularly care to. Largely because of the deficit of hand-eye coordination native to the Frenchman, the sport did not involve the use of one’s hands, as all red-blooded sports must, and so I dismissed it as a curiosity.
In one of my most vivid childhood memories, I am climbing the stairs to my Grand Rapids, Mich. bedroom, crying because my beloved Michigan State Spartans were trailing at halftime of their Sweet Sixteen game against Syracuse. I was certain that, if I wasn’t in front of the television, there was no way Mateen Cleaves and Morris Peterson could reverse the deficit. What, were they supposed to do it on their own? They needed me, and parental tyranny was about to derail their season. In the end, the anecdotal evidence bore me out—my parents grabbed me out of bed in the midst of the Spartans’ game-ending 22-2 run that carried them over the Orangemen, and the team ultimately went on to win the 2000 national championship.
In one of my most vivid college memories, I am dressed in a red bodysuit in the student section at Lavietes Pavilion (a time before I was confined by the bounds of journalistic objectivity). Then-junior forward Kyle Casey catches the ball at the baseline in front of us, pump fakes, drives, and humiliates Princeton right down to the Slavic Languages department with a one-handed, and-one dunk. A bunch of Crimson-hued stomping later, and the students are charging the court at Lavietes Pavilion, celebrating Harvard’s first Ivy League title since whenever-it-was.
Since Princeton’s loss to Brown on Saturday clinched Harvard’s bid to the NCAA tournament, the Crimson hasn’t had much to do but practice and dream, waiting for its first-round opponent and location to be announced this Sunday.
ESPN’s resident bracket wizard, Joe Lunardi, currently projects Harvard as a 14-seed, and unless some wacky things happen in the mid-major conference tournaments this week, its seed won’t climb any higher than that. This would match the Crimson up against a 3-seed, which makes an upset a daunting challenge. In the last decade, only three 14-seeds have won their first NCAA tournament game. If Harvard is to pull off the improbable next week, what type of opponent should it look for?
LONDON—The opening ceremony always seemed to me an especially out of place element of the Olympics. On the eve of a fortnight of ferocious athletic competition, viewers are treated to three hours of the most elaborate performance art most will see for the next four years. Outside of the amount of preparation required, the sight of a giant Voldemort being assailed by an army of Mary Poppinses doesn’t seem to share much in common with a marathon or a discus throw.
However, after experiencing the games live for the first time, I’ve come to realize that both are indispensable to the Olympics’ identity. The games wouldn’t mean what they do to us without the pageantry—the national anthems, the medal ceremonies, the torch lighting. The repetition of these rites keeps the almost mystical importance of the Olympics intact internationally, though the modern sporting landscape doesn’t resemble 1896 Athens in the slightest. But the games also cannot be separated from what they are, at root: a series of fiercely contested sporting events, featuring the world’s most impressive athletes.
On Monday, the Ivy League and NBC Sports Network announced an extension of their television partnership through the spring of 2014. The agreement commits the network to televising between six and ten football and men’s basketball games, and up to four men’s lacrosse games.
“We are pleased to showcase more Ivy League competition nationally to our passionate fan base which has a thirst for Ivy League athletics,” said Ivy League Executive Director Robin Harris in a statement released by the Ivy League on Monday.