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Going Out As Losers


By David S. Griffel

Losing isn't everything; it's the only thing.

Such was the sad situation of the Rutgers-Camden men's basketball team, a squad that had dropped 108 consecutive contests before the university decided to cancel the program this past Monday.

Why the decision after 108 games? The Pioneers had broken the all-time record for ineptitude a while ago.

Certainly, the men in charge could have pulled the plug 24 losses ago; maybe even after two consecutive winless seasons. Why after 108?

The men's basketball team at Rutgers-Camden was the best thing to happen to this school. I mean, is there anything else associated with this branch of the State University of New Jersey worth national news?

If you're Rutgers-Camden, when else would you find Sports Illustrated flocking down to write features? The whoops, I mean hoops, team was famous.

Heck, the Washington Generals haven't folded yet. Without the Washington Generals, who would have heard of the Harlem Globetrotters?

And you shouldn't forget Columbia, the perennial laughing stock of Ivy League football, until recently. The Lions made national news when they were in the process of losing 44 consecutive football games from 1983 to 1988.

Rutgers-Camden's last win came in 1992, so the Pioneers had plenty more time to catch up to Columbia. And can you imagine the headlines and the reactions when they finally broke that streak? All major media outlets would mention it; Rutgers-Camden had a cult following, just like the Columbia football team.

Imagine if you reversed the logic a little bit. Take the Harvard men's and women's squash teams, for example. They never lose. Actually, the men lost once in 1993, but no current women's squash player has ever been on a team that has lost a dual meet.

Come on, Bill Cleary, Neil Rudenstine or Al Carnesale. Can the squash teams. Let there be competition on the national scene once again. I mean, couldn't our funds be put to better use? Getting the same result every single time out is boring, no?

What Rutgers-Camden did is a crying shame. Sure, even their athletic director had to resign as coach in January after the losses caused him to drop 50 pounds and after he started reciting his players' names in his sleep, but there's always someone else who needs a job.

Most people start participating in sports because they are a release from the daily rigors of their lives. Is there any other reason why someone would still want to play Division III basketball at Camden? People still want to play basketball there.

As long as there are people who want to play, a university shouldn't be so concerned about the wins and losses (in Rutgers-Camden's case, the losses). The Harvard men's basketball team has never won an Ivy League title, but nobody here would consider dumping the program.

Rutgers-Camden is missing the point by canceling its men's hoops team. What's 108 losses anyway? It just marks 108 times that people were doing what they felt was fun. If it weren't fun, there's no way that the streak would have reached 108.

And just think of how many other schools Rutgers-Camden made happy by its presence.

The university could at least have had the decency to wait until the team won a game before dropping the program. Then the players and coaches could have exited with some dignity.

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