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When ESPN’s Jim Rome visited our campus on Alumni weekend at the beginning of the month, Mark and I were invited to his reception at the Intercollegiate Athletics building.
[media-credit name="Mark Bogard" align="alignleft" width="250"][/media-credit] After some orchestrated mingling (his handlers wouldn’t let him talk to us), Rome gave a quick speech before disappearing into a room to interview some UCSB basketball players, leaving the rest of us standing around with our wine glasses not knowing what to say to each other. That was when Mark and I began talking to Mark Massari, UCSB Director of Athletics.
Massari was pissed. The Nexus had just recommended students to reject his DARE referendum proposal, which would have allocated way too much of students’ funds over decades to improve athletics facilities. Needless to say, DARE didn’t pass.
Rob Gym was leaking, the baseball field relied on Andy Gumps instead of real bathrooms and our track was deemed unusable by the Big West. Massari wanted to know how the school’s athletic program would get better without better facilities.
He was right. Our facilities suck. Community colleges look better. Isla Vista Elementary looks better. Even Cal States look better — a fact that escapes the Gaucho Locos that chant “if you can’t go to school, go to State!” like we’re actually superior.
Gaucho sports do seem to have a common theme. We get close, we upset higher-ranked teams in our conference during irrelevant regular season games and then we lose. The cycle continues. We had an unprecedented two teams (men’s volleyball and club rugby) make the national championships this season and we couldn’t close either game.
So we debated: Which comes first, the facilities or the team?
I said the team. Sorry, Massari.
Money doesn’t care about soccer. Volleyball almost won, but money doesn’t care about volleyball, either. Or women’s sports.
Money cares about football and men’s basketball. Maybe even baseball. We don’t have a football team, of course, and our basketball team seems content with tournament berths. They’re happy just to be under the nationally televised lights.
You’re going to tell me that there isn’t one high-major caliber player down to come to UCSB for the beaches and the girls — in spite of some of our shoddier facilities? That nobody wants to be the guy to lead a team from a no-name conference to a Sweet 16? That the first time Gonzaga won a tournament game with a bunch of white guys was because they had superior talent?
There’s too much complacency amongst some of the athletes and personnel in all Gaucho sports. Conference championships are great, but they should be expected. Dare to be great, like the ads say, and it will happen.
In spite of the disappointments and a really awkward drive back from Berkeley after soccer lost, my year as a Sports Editor was one of the best and most challenging of my life. It’s been great. Thanks, Nexus staff, the News Girls outside my office who giggle way louder than necessary, readers who gave me shit, online commenter “Dailysuxass” and all of you who followed us following all these teams. I’ve learned a lot from all of you.
Three dollars an hour was totally worth it.