Monday, January 16, 2006

Holy who? Does anyone care about the Crusaders?

Rivalries help define college sports. BC doesn’t have one. Notre Dame fires up the fan base, but the Irish dismiss the matchup and the series is scheduled to end. And once the schools stop playing in football the rivalry will fade. How do I know? Just look at BC-Holy Cross.

Tuesday, BC plays its annual basketball game against Holy Cross. This game means nothing. And that is very unfortunate. Once upon a time, BC-Holy Cross used to mean everything. As the landscape of college sports changed, these two well-respected schools chose different paths and their connection and rivalry began to fade away.

Despite the dissipated football rivalry, the schools continued to play each other in some sports, including basketball. But without scholarship athletes the Crusaders could rarely compete. (HC has recently begun offering scholarships for men’s and women’s basketball.)

Ask current BC students about Holy Cross and the rivalry and you’ll get a quizzical look. It’s been more than two generations since it meant anything to students in Chestnut Hill. Supposedly it still means something to current Holy Cross students. I don’t know how any sporting event can mean anything when athletics are such an afterthought on their campus. Does it mean anything to me? Hell, I have a BC blog and I have a hard time writing something significant about Holy Cross. There is just nothing to say. It is too bad. Both schools could benefit from adding passion back to the matchup.

I wish the Crusaders would rebuild and create a niche like, say, Gonzaga. It is probably too late for HC. Too much has slipped away and its size limits things. Holy Cross’ basketball team plays a nice Cinderella every few years, but that is probably the only day of the year when Holy Cross fires up their fan base.

Sports don’t define a school. They can raise the profile and bring the community together like few other events. I keep reading how Holy Cross wants to improve its athletic department. Maybe they will one day. It would add that intangible element that the game lacks. Tuesday is just another game where BC should beat an overmatched small New England school.

And if BC doesn’t win (and Holy Cross has upset Al in the past), we’ll have a much larger problem than a faded rivalry.

1 comment:

Maryland Conservatarian said...

Well, Holy Cross did just beat BC in basketball in December 2002....and BC's win last year was only 63-60 in Overtime (in the midst of that great start BC had last year)...and if you hadn't dropped Lacrosse....which Holy Cross - despite being a much smaller school - still manages to find enough students to play at D1