THE HOYA Editorial Board has proposed the idea of moving Homecoming to overlap with the beginning of Georgetown basketball season rather than with a football game that few people see or care about (“Homecourt Homecoming,” THE HOYA, Oct. 24, 2006, A2). Just because we all adore a basketball team that may be on the cusp of a Final Four run, however, does not make our love of Hoya sports teams a zero-sum game. Homecoming is a football tradition – one that should be cherished even if our football team is temporarily out of style.
When we sing the Georgetown fight song, that ballad once so proud that it teased the inferior hymns of other prominent schools, do any of us remember that this is first and foremost a football cheer? Replacing “touchdown” with “rebound” and other basketball-related words insults countless generations who proudly cheered our football team; we borrow their cry while completely ignoring the passion and history behind it.
While I have attended the majority of the basketball games that have taken place during my time here at Georgetown – including the Dark Ages under former Head Coach Craig Esherick – the only football games I have witnessed have been forced commitments as part my former involvement in the Pep Band. Indeed, while I strictly prefer Hoya basketball games – our highs being so much higher on the court than on the field – taking away the few traditions that our school has towards football only drills another nail in the coffin of this once proud program. While I understand that attendance would undoubtedly be higher at a homecoming basketball game than at a comparable football contest, since when have such figures been the only consideration in deciding which traditions continue?
Can one imagine returning to Georgetown one day as an alumnus 50 years down the road to find Midnight Madness celebrating the beginning of lacrosse season? While our preferences at this university may often switch from one sport to another, we must realize that traditions are intractable, based not solely in repetition but also in the realization that those who came before us were important, their concerns and preferences worth upholding if we are to maintain any continuity as a 217-year-old student body.
Many of us remain committed to loving the basketball team, which at this juncture is understandable. As insulting as this may be to some, while I can name all of the starting basketball line-up, the name of the starting quarterback of our football team escapes me. In fact, I’m not sure I could name a single person currently associated with the team in any capacity. Assuming I’m not the only Hoya with a disappointing ignorance of our football squad, taking Homecoming away from the sport only serves to give less press to a football outfit that already garners so little. Yearly commemorations such as Homecoming are not fleeting celebrations we award to sporting events we currently happen to enjoy more than others, nor are they tentative campus events with dates as susceptible to rescheduling as SAC fair’s. Homecoming is a specific party inexorably tied to a specific annual event.
When traditions become negotiable, they lose whatever emotional underpinnings once created them and become lifeless gimmicks. Homecoming should be spared such an undignified fate, and moreover should be used as an excuse for all Hoyas to rediscover a forgotten team that long ago descended into Division I-AA obscurity, its players forgotten, its legacy denied, its traditions hunted by vultures disguised in blue and gray.
Jeffrey Planchard is a senior in the School of Foreign Service and a member of THE HOYA Editorial Board.