In many ways, college is designed to divide us.
You have grading curves that depend on you outperforming your peers, strict collaboration policies that prohibit working in groups on assignments, and much more. At Penn, where a renowned pressure-cooker environment often flares up enough to melt even the toughest of students, people desperately need an occasional outlet to help relieve this ever-building pressure.
Consider the perfect outlet here.
On Tuesday, when Princeton storms into town to take on the Red and Blue, students from across the University will flock to the Palestra to view in-person the storied basketball rivalry matchup that the Ivy League has boasted every year since 1903. Several groups on campus are taking advantage of this valuable opportunity to give their members a break from the stresses of academics.
Senior Ben Kramer, a member of Sigma Alpha Mu, has spread his passion for Penn basketball to the rest of his fraternity while spurning hype for Tuesday’s game.
“In my four years in Sammy, I’ve definitely been trying to cultivate enthusiasm for the team,” Kramer said. “This year we’ve had some games with a big turnout, and Sammy will have a big group going on Tuesday too.”
When asked about the role the fans play in games at the Palestra, Kramer was quick to cite momentum swings as the fans’ key area of impact.
“The best example is the Villanova game,” Kramer said. “Something like 600 students showed up, and any time we hit a couple shots in a row, the crowd would get the players even more amped.”
In addition to interest in the game, some other Greek organizations have ulterior motives for getting a group together. Mikael Mantis, a member of Phi Kappa Psi and Penn Hype, has been encouraging members of his fraternity to come watch the game as well as Hype’s halftime performance.
“I’ve been pretty vocal to everyone about it,” Mantis said. “I sent out emails to the brotherhood, and we’ve especially been advertising the cheap ticket price. There are some guys coming who aren’t big basketball fans but want to see myself and other Phi Psi Hype members perform.”
With all the exciting buildup to Tuesday’s game, the question still remains – just how important is this game, outside of the historic rivalry?
“We’ve been down and out in the Ivy League so far,” Kramer admitted. “This game is both exciting and also pivotal, with implications towards our hopes of turning this season around.
“Feb Club has this as their event for the night, which means seniors are going to be out in numbers,” Kramer added. “I know a lot of seniors who don’t usually come that are coming to see their last Penn-Princeton game.”
Feb Club, which is organized by the Class of 2017 Board and schedules daily events for seniors all through February, planted the game on their calendar of events for a reason – to heighten interest in the game as well as continue to bring the senior class together as Quakers.
“We usually try to pick either a men’s or women’s basketball game as a Feb Club event,” Class of 2017 President Darren Tomasso said. “This is the first time that we’ve been able to make that game the Penn-Princeton game. We always are working with Penn Athletics to bridge the gap between students and sports, and we expect there to be tons of seniors there, no doubt.”
Whether a member of a fraternity, a senior, both, or neither, Tuesday’s game will be a spectacle that should not be missed. As for the game itself?
“I think we’ll come out really hot after these past couple down results,” Kramer said. “I’m confident that we can and will win this game.
“There’d be nothing better than a win against Princeton in the Palestra with hundreds of Penn students there to see it.”