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Men's Basketball vs. Princeton, their biggest victory in two years Credit: Michele Ozer , Michele Ozer

There are few athletic events that are relative must-sees on the Penn calendar.

Homecoming. The annual Penn-Princeton matchup at the Palestra. Penn Relays.

Unfortunately for Penn, the Penn-Princeton basketball home game will be played during spring break.

That’s right: One of the few sporting events that tends to bring out fans by the thousand instead of the dozen occurs at a time when the student body isn’t even on campus.

But don’t worry, isn’t the game at Princeton just a bus ride away, so can’t everyone attend without too much of an issue?

Not at all, for that game comes during Penn’s winter break.

This is the second straight year that the annual Penn-Princeton matchups have come during winter and spring break, respectively, something that absolutely needs to change moving forward.

The next question you may ask is, “What can the universities actually do about the schedule?”

As stated above, the two schools play twice a year, which tends to bookend the Ivy season. If both Penn and Princeton were committed to begin and end the Ivy season with the historic matchup, then there isn’t much they can do to change the unfortunate consequences of winter and spring break.

That’s because with the way the Ivy schedule and spring break line up, there is often no respite from this possibility. Two years ago, the game at the Palestra happened to fall on the Tuesday after spring break, a lucky occurrence with the calendar.

As for the first matchup, the game has to be scheduled around Princeton’s reading days, which take up much of January. The Tigers’ squad goes on hiatus for two weeks after this year’s game to prepare for exams before returning for a meaningless matchup with Division III Rowan.

So is the desire for the games to not be during breaks futile and is this something unavoidable?

Absolutely not.

As recently as four years ago, the first matchup with Penn and Princeton occurred during the middle of the Ancient Eight season, happening on a Tuesday in between Ivy doubleheaders.

And three seasons ago, the two teams took the floor at the Palestra on a Monday in late January. The game was still the Ivy opener for both squads, but also had the benefit of coming after Princeton’s reading days.

That game, which only the current senior class was at Penn for, was one of the most packed in recent memory, inspiring a large crowd that saw Penn pull off a captivating 82-67 victory.

Ultimately, it shouldn’t be too hard to schedule the first matchup later into the year. With classes more in full swing and Ivy doubleheaders starting up, it would be a slightly larger burden for the student athletes from each school, playing more games mid-week.

But that is a small burden compared to the boost each team would get with a larger fan contingent in attendance.

In the end, that’s what the Penn-Princeton rivalry is all about: coming out to show school spirit in the one athletic rivalry that everyone on campus acknowledges.

This season, the two schools will tip off for the 231st and 232nd time in the historic matchup on dates that are inconvenient for the majority of Penn’s student body.

But that is this year. It absolutely shouldn’t become a trend, especially if you want students to be engaged with the best of Penn traditions.

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