Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Winter Of Wonder

TigerBlog's introduction to computers came back in high school, when he took a BASIC programming class. Not "basic," as in "simple," but "BASIC," as in a computer language at the time.

According to Wikipedia, it stands for "Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code." Basically (no pun intended), in BASIC, you wrote code for your program, and the program ran the instructions in numerical order of how they were labeled. Most of the time, your first line would be 10, your second would be 20, etc., and you could go back and add instructions in between if you needed to.

Also, if you wrote "new" as a command, it would tell the computer to erase whatever leftover instructions there were from the person before you. This is sort of a prehistoric version of closing your browser.

Anyway, TB once wrote "10 - New" for the first line of a lengthy program. Then, when TB hit run, the first thing the computer did was follow that command, which TigerBlog thought would clear whatever was there before. Instead, it erased everything that followed, which was TB's entire project.

Oh well. Live and learn. Back then, computer files were stored on regular cassettes, which for those who can't remember back before CDs and such were things that you could record music on and play in your car stereo, until the tape part inevitably got messed up.

From there, technology made a big leap forward to the floppy disk, which has long since been obsolete as well. When TB first started working here at Princeton, there was a big file that kept floppy disks, and there were a bunch of them entitled "Myslik System." Those disks held the year-by-year totals of what became the "Ivy League's All-Sports Points System" and, with a nod to former Ivy communications director Brett Hoover, it's current state of "Ivy League's Unofficial All-Sports Points Standings."

Now of course, all of these files make up the tiniest storage unit of TB's computer.

The current file is called "ivystandings.09.10," and it is almost two-thirds complete for the current academic year.

All that's left to fill in is whether or not Penn ties Cornell for seventh place in women's basketball (it would need to beat Princeton tonight to do so) and places 2-7 in men's basketball, which will be impacted by the Princeton-Penn men's game.

As an aside, the men's game has been moved from a 7 p.m. start to an 8.p.m. start.

The standings show Princeton with 130 points, plus either 7 or 6.5 more in men's basketball (a Princeton win gives the Tigers second place alone; a Penn win ties Princeton and Harvard for second). Harvard is in second place with 104, and the Crimson will get either 6.5 or 6, depending on whether or not Princeton beats Penn. No other team has more than 90.5 (Cornell).

It's been an extraordinary winter for Princeton and an even more extraordinary two weekends.

There are 13 Ivy League winter sports, and Princeton won the championship in seven of them (men's and women's swimming and diving, men's and women's fencing, women's basketball, men's and women's indoor track and field). The seven Ivy League titles ran Princeton's 2009-10 total to nine (keep in mind men's cross country lost to Columbia by one excruciating point), which is six more than the next-highest total in the league (Cornell and Harvard have three each).

Princeton needs one spring Ivy League championship (certainly not a gimme) to reach double figures for the 19th time in program history, all since 1979-80. The only other school to reach double figures is Harvard, which has done it five times.

The all-time record is 14, set by Princeton in 1999-2000 and matched the following year by Princeton and in 2004-05 by Harvard.

Still, all of those numbers aren't the most impressive part of Princeton's winter. As TigerBlog looked over the spreadsheet of numbers for each sport, he noticed that all 13 Princeton winter teams in Ivy sports finished either first, second or third.

There were the seven championships, as well as two second-place finishes and four third-place finishes.

Another impressive thing is that Princeton's athletic success isn't built around a handful of teams. A year ago, Princeton had eight Ivy League championship teams through the fall and winter. Of those eight, three (women's soccer, men's cross country, men's squash) did not repeat this year. That means that four of this year's Ivy champions didn't win last year: both fencings, women's indoor track, women's swimming and diving.

Going back two years, Princeton also had eight championship teams through the winter. Included in that list were men's hockey and women's volleyball. The list from the year before that shows eight championships through the winter, including women's squash and football.

The point is that Princeton's athletic success has been bigger than any one program, any one athlete, any one coach.

TigerBlog's post from last week about the five championships in 19 hours drew this comment:
"I hope you will have occassion to elaborate on the ingredients of this past weekend as a microcosm of the overall, sustained success of Princeton athletics."

The Ivy League Sports Board has a long thread about the same subject.

TigerBlog has his thoughts on Princeton's success and the reasons for it. Anytime he thinks about it, he comes up with a different point to focus on.

Yesterday's post mentioned some of the great movies of all-time, and one of them is "Patton," the story of the World War II general. The movie ends as Patton strolls through a courtyard, looking indestructible, as his voiceover speaks these words:
"For over a thousand years, Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of a triumph - a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeters and musicians and strange animals from the conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conqueror rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children, robed in white, stood with him in the chariot, or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror, holding a golden crown, and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting."

In other words, enjoy it, but don't forget it's not a guarantee for next year.

1 comment:

Brett said...


Why don't you approach the Ivy Office and propose and Executive Director's Cup? Seems like that would be something everyone would want!