By Najib Aminy
There is no question that Stony Brook is currently overflowing with problems: academic resources are dwindling, our Byzantine bureaucracy is frustrating, the infrastructure is crumbling, and students are suffering.
Stony Brook pride is practically nonexistent among its 23,000 students, who openly express apathy and dissatisfaction. The overpriced Stony Brook clothing is just a façade of school spirit. Even the Candyland-like Zebra Path is chipping away to show its true monochrome nature. It exemplifies that, no matter how much paint you put on something, the true colors will show. But there is one exception to this depressing prologue: Stony Brook Basketball.
For a team that is 13-11, the Men’s Basketball team kept fans, faculty and administrators alike entertained in a close game against Binghamton. Though the Seawolves lost by a basket in overtime, nothing can take away from the pride and school spirit exhibited by the game’s attending.
Very rarely does one experience the sight of students cheering for Stony Brook or shouting, “Go, Fight, Win!” which includes other sporting events. Yet, for some reason, at this particular basketball game-the first of this semester-the arena, though small, was packed, and the energy resonated throughout the whole court.
The sounds of the marching band, the sight of cheerleaders cart wheeling across the floor, the feeling of that ever so needed school pride and spirit that has been so heavily discussed. Surprisingly, this has been the case for the majority of the games played this season.
Students continually fill up seats, administrators who deal with budgets and classes dress in red, and even the heavily criticized President Kenny has attended more than a handful of games. Does this mean that all the problems are fixed and the university is great?
Not necessarily, but it brings hope to a school clouded with such high negativity. For just a couple of hours, students can escape to a world where shouting degrading comments about the physique of an opposing player makes them feel better about themselves. As juvenile as that may sound, it relieves the tension between a student and his or her problems at Stony Brook, and, most importantly, expresses school spirit and pride.
There is no other location or time where students are as spirited or involved with the university than basketball games at Pritchard Gymnasium, which dwarfs even the football games at LaValle Stadium. Basketball games have become an oasis of what students may expect to experience from a university compared to their time at Stony Brook. Other than last homecoming, when students rushed onto the field after a nail-biting win, basketball is becoming the precedent of what other athletic teams and events should look to follow.
With the spring season on the way, athletics continue to be a vital role in how students look at Stony Brook. Though judged by wins, which is undoubtedly heavily marketed by the athletic department, Stony Brook sports have found success in the past.
Just last year, both the Men’s Baseball and Women’s Softball teams won the America East Conference to advance to their respective NCAA tournaments. Women’s Cross-Country won its second conference title. Edwin Gowins was recently awarded the Freshman of the Year award by College Sporting News becoming the first Seawolf to win the award. Women’s Soccer is coming off of its most successful season since 1994 by winning 11 games this season.
Sure, it seems like athletics are transitioning their program from focusing on development to competitiveness, but, it is rare that there will be the same type of student involvement and activity seen in basketball games in other types of athletics.
For an institution 50 years young, there is no defining tradition that students can relate to; there are only problems. Nonetheless, that is the beauty of sports: it allows one to escape from reality while bettering the experience.
Invited by the Stony Brook Athletic Department, Ohio State Football Coach Jim Tressel shared his experience with athletes and coaches alike. His advice for Stony Brook was simple. “What we did at Ohio State is we would build on all past traditions, even if it wasn’t that well established,” he said. “We would then talk about what we wanted to build, and celebrate every step.”
Though Stony Brook may seem like it means well, any progress is to be overshadowed by its current lingering problems. That is, unless there are more basketball games.