Columbia Athletics: In the Lion’s Den


By Juliet Savits Unigo Campus Rep at Columbia University

If you ask most students what they think about Columbia Athletics they will most likely nod their head “no” and give a smug smile. Columbia is not known for having a great athletics program. Some teams may have a winning season from time to time, but there are few that are regular competitors for NCAA titles. That being said, Columbia athletics can be a great opportunity to compete, keep in shape, or just have fun. Columbia hosts 27 varsity teams and 38 club sports, not including intramural athletics. Varsity teams range from football and basketball to archery and fencing. Club sports and intramurals are open to any Columbia student and include group instruction in everything from martial arts to ballroom dancing. Club sports welcome everyone and are a great way to meet people, stay in shape, and even have a little fun. “Club sports are less intense than varsity sports, but you still meet four or five times a week and so you still get the exercise,” says Miyako Yerick, a first-year intended political science major at the college currently involved in club Tae Kwon Do. But when you go to the competitions you definitely get the team feeling.” Though many get involved in club sports, varsity sports don’t inspire as much enthusiasm. One of the main problems with varsity sports on campus is that they are not on campus. Though indoor sports take place at the Dodge fitness center, an underground gymnasium with sports facilities for basketball, fencing, swimming, and squash, home games for outdoor sports take place at Baker Athletics Complex, 100 blocks uptown from campus. “I would go see more games, but I can’t make it up to Baker that often,” says Ahlyum Mun, a sophomore chemical engineering major at SEAS. Despite the distance to go see some games, there are still many students that enjoy attending athletics events. New programs have been initiated by students and athletic directors to encourage attendance at Columbia sporting events. For example, “The Lion’s Cup” is a program aimed at getting sports teams to support one another by keeping track of the number of times each athlete attends another team’s game. More recently a group of students have attempted to organize a “Lion’s Den” program in which students go to games together and create cheering sections in order to encourage more school spirit. The athletics department has tried to persuade students to attend with the pull of free things including sandwiches, popcorn, and T-shirts. Attending athletics events is a great way to show school spirit and support your friends. “I wish more people went to the games,” says Michael Reed, a freshman at the engineering school. “I like to go when I know people on the team.” School spirit is one aspect of student life that Columbia falls behind in. People just don’t take the time to go out and root for their fellow Columbians. Our sports may not be the most successful, but if you take the time to go down to Baker field with some friends and cheer on the team, you may happen upon that glorious end-of-the-season win and come home with a free t-shirt to boot.

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