Columbia's homecoming is this weekend. They're playing Penn, a team to whom our Lions will surely lose. That's what Columbia does: they lose football games. They did it just last weekend, suffering a 29-0 drubbing at the hands of Lafayette, just a week after putting 32 points on the board against Princeton in one of our best offensive productions in recent memory. They lost that game too, though.
In my four years at Columbia, I can't remember a single homecoming game where the home team won. It certainly might have happened; but even if it did, the victory doesn't stick out in my mind, instead getting lost among the flood of disappointments. And yet, every year, we trudge up to Baker Field and cheer on the Lions, hoping this might be the game that starts a winning streak. It of course never happens, but we all remain optimistic.
So why do we still bother? Why do we head out, year after year, hoping for the best but expecting the worst? It's certainly not specific to Ivy League college football; people still show up at Oakland Raiders games, after all, and I've even met Tampa Bay Devil Rays fans in person. We're resigned, mostly, to the reality of our mediocrity, and we're never surprised when our team fails to pull out a win. The situation makes those rare victories all the more exciting; it's not just a win, but also a pleasant surprise.
But is that why we do it?