Monday, May 16, 2011

Beat That

The five nominees for Best Picture of 1956 were "Giant," "The Ten Commandments," "The King and I," "Around the World In 80 Days" and "Friendly Persuasion."

TigerBlog has seen four of those five and had never heard of "Friendly Persuasion" until he just Googled "Best Picture 1956" a few seconds ago. Apparently, it's a movie set in the Civil War starring Gary Cooper, so it's probably pretty good.

Meanwhile, back at the other four, TB would rank "Giant," "The Ten Commandments" and "The King and I" - had to be a busy time for Yul Brenner - well ahead of "Around the World In 80 Days." Of course, the one TB has fourth is the one that won Best Picture.

Yul did win for Best Actor for "The King and I," which is one of TB's all-time favorite musicals. Ingrid Bergman won Best Actress for "Anastasia," another movie TB has never seen.

Why talk about 1956 so randomly on a Monday morning?

Well, 1956 was the first year of official Ivy League athletics.

Yes, most of the schools in the league played in each other in every sport dating back decades before. And yes, there are a ton of athletic rivalries among Ivy schools that date back to the 1800s.

And, yes, if you asked your average college sports fan which league is older, the Ivy League or the SEC or the Ivy League or the Big Ten or the Ivy League or the Pac-Whatever, most of the time the answer you'd get would be the Ivy League.

For all that, official Ivy League play didn't begin until 1956.

In that first year, Yale won seven Ivy League championships, which became the standard for league titles in an academic year.

It would be 1961-62 before Harvard would match those seven championships, and the Crimson would repeat that two years later and better it to eight four years later.

The record would stay at eight until Princeton won nine in the 1976-77 school year, which was three years after the league started awarding women's championships as well.

Princeton was the first to double figures, as the Tigers won 11 titles in 1979-80, and, two years later, the record was pushed to 13.

Princeton would need 20 years to add to its record, which became 14 in 1999-2000 and was matched again by Princeton a year later.

Harvard would get a share of the record in 2004-05, and that's where the record stayed until this year.

Yesterday afternoon, in a completely dominant performance, the women's open rowing first varsity 8 won by more than four seconds at Eastern Sprints to earn the Ivy League championship that goes along with that title. Princeton would also win three other women's open races and the women's lightweight race as well.

The women's open rowing win was the 15th of the academic year for Princeton, and so the record now belongs solely to Princeton in 2010-11.

For the record, nine other teams finished second or third, and of the four that finished second, three - women's soccer, men's squash and men's tennis - came agonizingly close to winning as well.

Yale finished second to Princeton in the number of Ivy League championships won with seven, the same number that was the record in 1956-57 but which now is fewer than half the record. Harvard was next with five, a number that includes the Crimson's share of the men's basketball title with Princeton.

Once again, Princeton's 15 Ivy League championship teams are:

fall - field hockey, men's soccer, men's cross country, women's cross country
winter - men's basketball, women's basketball, women's fencing, men's indoor track and field, women's outdoor track and field, men's swimming and diving, women's swimming and diving
spring - men's outdoor track and field, women's outdoor track and field, baseball, women's open rowing

As an aside, that's nearly 400 athletes who won Ivy League titles this year at Princeton.

Can the number 15 be topped? It took 20 years to get from 13 to 14 and then 12 years to get from 14 to 15, though it was tied twice along the way.

Is 16 possible (assuming the league stays at 33 sports)? What's the top number? Can one school get to 17, which would be more than half of the championships awarded?

Who knows. This isn't about speculating on that anyway.

This is about marveling at Princeton's record-setting year, and understanding that it will merely redouble the competition's efforts to match it or beat it.

Once again, TB will end with a Best Picture winner, this time from when the record for Ivy titles was still at eight. And TB won't even say the movie, only the line that he always says at this point of the story:

"All glory is fleeting."

So, Princeton fans, you might as well enjoy it.


Brian83 said...

A great day indeed for Women's rowing and the men put in solid efforts as well. Quick question for TB - we won the Women's Sprint Race as well. I thought that might be #16. Are Open and Sprint combined into one title? What about on the men's side? And if so, how is the Ivy title determined, since there are multiple classes (1V, 2V, Freshman, etc) in each?

BAH said...

The only question is: why is there not a number '15' emblazoned in 400-point type overlaying the front of the website?

TigerBlog said...

Women's lightweight rowing is not an official Ivy League sport, of which there are 33. The first varsity 8 final winner at Eastern Sprints (or highest Ivy finisher) is considered the Ivy League champion.

Anonymous said...

Once the slow days of summer arrive, you might spend a little time to research whether any other college athletic program has ever won 15 conference titles in an academic year. I'll bet that the answer is no if only because most conferences have far fewer sponsored sports, making 15 an even more difficult accomplishment.

The feat more likely to be matched by another sports powerhouse such as Stanford would be one athletic program winning 46% of the titles in one year.

Anonymous said...

women's lacrosse won the ivy league championships too...

TigerBlog said...

The women's lacrosse team won the Ivy League tournament, which determined the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The regular-season co-champions, Penn and Dartmouth, are recognized by the league as the official Ivy titlists for women's lacrosse.