We all know that football is an important part of higher learning. What would college life be like without the "big games" and the rivalries? Also, it brings in a great deal of money.
I was appalled when I read that those who sat in trees in Berkeley to protect them are now being sued, like they have any money.
What matters though is Cal will have their football.
Here is Jon Carroll today on the subject.
Shame! Shock! Yes, for all those who wondered why the 80-year-old oaks next to Memorial Stadium at the University of California couldn't have been just left standing, the administration of California has now allowed the publication of the exclusive photographs of the hellhole that is the Memorial Stadium.
Those trees died just in time. Now the renovations and expansion can begin, and strong young men, many of them getting full scholarships to one of the world's great universities, will not be forced to endure such hardship. And all without a state-of-the-art weight room! Joe Kapp weeps.
Fortunately, a lawyer for the university announced that he was going to "throw the book" at the tree-sitters who sat in the way of progress. Dissent is one thing; actually doing something to support those dissenting views: quite another. Rather than sitting in the trees, the protesters should have written a novel about what it would have been like if someone had sat in the trees. That's what academic freedom is all about.
Perhaps the most striking photograph was of the visiting team's locker room. By tradition, the visiting team gets the fuzzy end of the lollipop (as the great coach Billy Wilder remarked), with somewhat grungy facilities so that they become depressed and agitated and fail to play their best games.
Oh but (to quote from the caption): "To make the most of their space, visiting teams must transform the shower room into a training room/meeting room, and back again." Actually, this sort of multiuse room is all the architectural rage right now, saving as it does resources and space while testing the ingenuity of the inhabitants, but still - a great university must put its best (conventional) foot forward when greeting hated members of the athletic teams of other great universities.
The dimensions of the room are not given, but I imagine a homeless family of six could live quite comfortably in this locker room, and they would certainly appreciate the amenity of showers on demand - once you move the dining room table. I'm sure they'd be happy to move out the six times a year a visiting football team comes to Cal.
I'm not being fair. Other teams use these facilities as well, and the homeless family idea is just too impractical - although it is the kind of pie-in-the-sky thinking you expect from East Bay liberals. Next I'll be saying that families could live in deserted classrooms at night!
And listen to these harrowing conditions, as described in the article. "To get from, say, the dressing room to the coaches office, a player must go up and under and around and through and down narrow hallways, all of which are invisible to fans walking the concourse on the other side of the stucco walls." All those halls! It's almost like an intelligence test! Maybe athletes could get extra credit for maneuvering through this maze.
There are two tunnels leading from the locker rooms to the field, one used by the visiting team and one used by your University of California Golden Bears - and allied fan-fluffing organizations. At halftime, the players must leave the field just as the marching band is entering it. The idea of "moving aside" or "taking turns" seems not to have taken hold there, or at least has been deemed too burdensome by the athletic department. Fortunately, with the new construction, the risk of glockenspiel to face-mask injuries will soon be all but eliminated.
The article details many other hardships. Some VIPs and big donors must sit on plastic folding chairs to watch the game from a section of the press box; others get the slightly more desirable wooden folding chairs. The donors are miffed, and I can understand why. I can watch the football game in an upholstered chair complete with ottoman, and I can see every play five times in slow motion just after its completion.
Plus: I'm climate-controlled. Maybe the university should have just left the trees alone and built a nice large indoor television studio. Maybe 20,000 seats for fans - all with reclining features - and gleaming new locker rooms for the athletes. And maybe, you know, they could have built somewhere that's not right on the Hayward Fault.
In other news: For several years now, members of the Mark Morris Dance Company have been offering movement classes for people with Parkinson's disease. The program was hugely successful in New York, and now it's starting in the Bay Area. Dancers and dance teachers trained by two Mark Morris dancers, David Leventhal and John Heginbotham, will be teaching classes at the Berkeley Ballet Theater and Oakland Danspace all through October. These classes are appropriate for anyone with Parkinson's.
To enroll, just send a note to dance@PDActive.org; further information will be sent. The program is free.
Yes, I've seen it with my own eyes - disconsolate alumni in plastic folding chairs. And that was just at the post-game fraternity party!