At BU, Broomsticks Fly Higher Than Hockey Sticks
Boston University Sports
By Toby Nathan
Unigo Campus Rep at Boston University
Aside from the hallowed men's hockey squad, Boston University sports teams generally find themselves playing for an unenthusiastic and small crowd, or none at all. Even the majestically scaled Agganis Arena, built in 2005, has done little to aid in the vitalization of the BU sports scene. Only the hockey team seems destined to draw fairly large crowds or attract the interest of the ordinary student on campus.
The hockey team hasn’t won a national hockey title since 1995, but it’s currently ranked #3 in the country by USA Today. Despite the team’s impressive standing, only a small number of followers would truly consider themselves avid BU sports fans. The general sentiment around campus is that sports play an unusually small role in BU student life. No one makes a kerfuffle upon seeing a star hockey player or even when an important game is won. Generally, the fans look at hockey games, far and away the most popular sports events on campus, as opportunities for bacchanalian revelry. “I consider myself one of the most dedicated fans at BU, and I still think of hockey games, first and foremost, as an opportunity to drink and shout my ass off,” said Johnny Varina, a senior studying corporate finance.
Varina says that he is part of the fervent minority. He has been to every home BU men's hockey game since his freshman year, excluding his time abroad, and has sat in the "dog pound", the student section in BU's Agganis Arena named for the mascot, the Terriers, for every game he has attended. "The hockey team is really the only athletic outlet for school spirit, for feeling like a college kid," he said. "Obviously, we're not a state school or anything crazy like that, but for those Friday nights at Agganis, I actually feel like a real college sports fan, and it's, to some minute degree, satisfying."
Eder Goldbach, a senior studying psychology, says that he has barely even noticed BU athletics in his four years here. "Granted I'm not too involved with sports, it's still pretty amazing that if you don't care to notice, or don't make a conscious effort to reach out for some sort of connection with BU sports, you probably can go 4 years pretty easily without ever encountering the sports scene," he said.
Still, Brandon Yip, a senior forward on BU’s hockey team, said that he loves playing in front of the BU crowd. “I think our rink is one of the loudest rinks we play in. Its one of the best places around to play college hockey.” Yip said that he thinks being a hockey player has been only beneficial for him, enriching his overall experience at BU. Most of the athletes on campus know each other and can enjoy a built-in social circle, but that doesn’t exclude them from the general BU population, he said. Despite 6 hours of mandatory study hall a week, intense practices, and frequent games, they find time to live normal student lives.
Believe it or not, the little students dressed in gold who play the role of the snitch for the BU Quidditch Team may be as widely recognized as the BU hockey stars. Granted, it’s not for the same reasons--the Quidditch players are recognized more for being those who run around on brooms once a week in BU’s main square than for being supreme athletes--but that still says something about sports here. Notwithstanding the extraordinary popularity enjoyed by the broom-flyers on the Quidditch team, BU is not a sports school. It is not even kind of a sports school. The hockey team generates excitement each year, but that excitement fades, along with the Boston sunlight and dropping temperatures. Another title this year would certainly help to energize the sports scene that for so long has been left in the dark.