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Columbia: The Ivy League's Worst Athletics Program

By Alexander Koenig, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard is the best at many things. But despite the Crimson’s pedigree we must recognize when we’ve been beaten. Princeton paces the Ivy League with over 50 more championships all-time than second-place Harvard, including a conference record 15 titles in 2010-11.

No matter. As long as Harvard’s athletic programs continue to improve at their current rate, we may just catch them yet.

In the meantime, we can entertain ourselves with a look at the worst the Ivy League has to offer: The Columbia Lions.

If not for capturing the women’s track and field Indoor Heptagonal Championship, Columbia would have made it two years in a row getting blanked in the title department. All-time, the Lions stand at 87 total championships. To give some perspective, the Crimson reached that number in 1972.

The main reason for this futility is the school’s location in the middle of Manhattan. If athletes here think walking across the river for practice is bad, try a five-mile bus ride through New York traffic. Naturally, this makes for problems in recruiting and preparation, but we’re not here to make excuses for Columbia; we’re here to make us feel better about ourselves by having a chuckle at the Lions’ expense.

Let’s leave history behind, and try and look at the 2011-12 sports year in a vacuum.

Columbia football went 1-9 last season, with its only win coming in the final weekend of the year in double overtime against Brown. The Lions got blanked, 37-0, by a Dartmouth team that lost to Harvard and Yale by a combined 71-10. Ouch.

Despite taking the champion Crimson to overtime in the last weekend of the season (noticing a trend here?) the men’s basketball team finished 4-10 in the Ancient Eight last season, and two of those wins came against the Big Green, which shouldn’t really count.

Not to be outdone by the men, Columbia's women’s basketball team went 1-13 in conference, losing both games to eventual champion Princeton by a combined 99 points, leading the five students in the stands to walk home thinking about what could have been if they’d just made 50 more shots.

They’re even bad at squash. Columbia didn’t take a single game against Harvard, Dartmouth or Yale on the men’s side, nor Princeton, Penn, Cornell, the Bulldogs or the Crimson on the women’s side. They play nine games a match in Ivy squash.

The women’s lacrosse team turned their noses up at the squash program, and defiantly said, “we’ll do you one better.” En route to a 0-7 record in the Ancient Eight, the Lions’ got outscored 108-47. Damn.

Maybe we’re being too harsh, but when things have gotten so bad that your own student newspaper thinks it might be a better idea to just stop recruiting athletes altogether, I’d say the Athletic Department has some work to do.

But don’t worry guys, I’m sure you’ll get ‘em next year.

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