Sports Forge a Bond Between Students and Vermonters

This paper marks the end of my first semester as sports editor. This is also the end of my last semester as sports editor. It’s been a whirlwind of a year. The newspaper took up a lot more of my time than I expected it to. I began by writing the occasional article last semester, and somehow became the sports editor.

I learned that the UVM sports department really is a great one. We are a fairly small school, and the community atmosphere is strong. This community vibe is typical of Vermont, and the Vermonters from Burlington and surrounding schools join together with UVM students to support the sports teams. Having a team that “belongs” to the school and to the town fosters relationships between the oddest people. On an early evening in late February, amidst the flurry of media attention UVM received for the astounding success of the men’s basketball team, I rode the bus back from main campus to my dorm. There was a home game that night that one of the staff writers was covering, and the parking lots all over campus were full of cars – Vermonters coming to support their team. It was a bitterly cold night, and the sky was already pitch black at seven in the evening. At the last stop before the bus crossed main street and headed into Athletic Campus, two men got on. They were both portly, with grizzled beards and receding hairlines. They moved together, both stepping onto the student bus and sitting down next to each other at the seat closest to the driver. I happened to be sitting next to them. The men peered out the windows, and one of them wondered out loud where the hell the bus went. I didn’t answer him at first – I am pretty oblivious to most things in the post-long day, pre-dinner hour – but one of the men soon turned to me and asked if the bus went to the gym. I answered him that it did, and told him that they should get off after two more stops. The man thanked me, and asked if I was going to the game – he was disappointed and shocked that I wasn’t. It didn’t make sense to these men that I would choose not to go to an important gamethat was at my own school, played by a team that carried the name of my school. They talked about the success of the team in excited and animated tones – it was their team. It struck me how something like sports, something that serves the purpose of entertainment value alone (apologies to those who disagree), could create such feeling in people. These men, who were not young by any standards and were dressed in flannel and suspenders – pretty classic crusty Vermonters – felt a bond with the motley crew of students on the bus. We shared a team – not just any team, but a team that was successful and well-known in the national arena; a source of pride for Vermont. Sports can do this for people. It can create strong enmity, as evidenced by the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry that stretches across the Northeast, but it can also create close ties. A student these men had never met – who was generations apart from them and occupying an entirely different lifestyle – was someone that could sit and talk and joke with them about a common subject: basketball. The UVM basketball team introduced a bond that united the already strong communities of students and Vermonters. We were no longer those upstarts on the hill, we were a source of pride. One of the things that I loved about UVM when I visited as a freshman, and that I still love, is the sense of community it instills in its students. We are a school of traditions, and the sports program is a big part of that. It also unites us with the rest of this great state in a way that few things could. I am leaving UVM after this year – on to a school that actually carries my major and is a little more affordable – and I will miss the community most of all. Knowing all semester that I would be leaving for good in May made me appreciate this school for all it is worth. I believe that the school will remain united with the greater Burlington community, even though four of our basketball stars have graduated and the coach is gone. Whether a team is winning or losing, you stand behind them if they are your team, and behind your school when it is your school. I wish the sports department, UVM, and the Cynic all the luck in the wold in the coming year. Love you.