Thursday, October 18, 2012

Book It

To look at Miss TigerBlog, you'd think it wouldn't take much of a strong breeze at all to knock her flying.

Measuring her body fat would be problematic, because you'd first have to find some, somewhere, on a body that is almost all legs, scrawny ones at that.

And yet she can somehow lift up her backpack to bring it back and forth to school.

TigerBlog can barely get the thing off the ground, what with the way it is jammed with book after book - and measuring his body fat is getting easier and easier these days.

MTB is not the only kid who goes to school who carries a backpack that seems to weigh more than she does. In fact, there are studies now about the health issues related to carrying such heavy objects, especially on young backs.

It's amazing to TB that these books need to go back-and-forth every day, especially when he did about 80% of his homework in the class before it needed to be turned in. Well, maybe not 80% - though he's pretty sure the statute of limitations of not paying attention in English to get his statistics homework done long since expired.

It's even more amazing that these books are loaded up every day in the year 2012, when they could all be replaced by one iPad.

The worst part for TB isn't when MTB asks him to carry her bag from the car to the house. It's when the books come out and TB is asked to help with homework questions, especially math ones.

TigerBlog never got anything less than an A in any math class he ever took, from elementary school up through calculus. He's a big fan of the logic involved, and for some reason, it always just clicked for him.

And of course he long ago forgot most of it (other than the basics, like how to compute the tip for the check or a save percentage or how many days until lacrosse season starts or something important like that).

So when MTB asks him questions about whatever it is they're up to these days, it either triggers a great challenge in TB to remember how to do it and figure out or a sense that he'll never be able to, in which case he summons TigerBlog Jr., whose own willingness to help his younger sister can be summed up neatly in his usual one-word response of "no."

And then there's the question that no parent can figure out a way to answer: Why can't we divide by zero?

Back when TB was in school, if he told his father that he got a 98 on a test, the response would be "who got the other two?"

TB's own approach is a little different and involves something that Pete Carril always said: "can you look your father in the eyes and tell him that you did the very best you could do and gave your maximum effort?"

As kids go through the school progression, there is the graph of those with the intelligence to get into the very best colleges and those with the athletic ability to play at a high Division I level.

The overlap of those two graphs will be on display all over Princeton's campus this weekend.

TigerBlog senses that the introduction to strength and conditioning that many of these athletes who will play here this weekend came as a result of carrying backpacks like MTB's.

In what is one of the best things about Ivy League athletics - and something not done enough - this Saturday will offer four Princeton-Harvard matchups, beginning at noon and running non-stop until long after it gets dark.

It begins with field hockey on Bedford Field (noon) and continues with football at 1, men's soccer at 4 and women's soccer at 7. The only one of those events that charges admission is football, and even that is extraordinarily affordable.

And the weather forecast? Sunny, high of 66, zero percent chance of rain. In other words, you have no excuse for not being there.

Princeton and Harvard have a great rivalry, one that begins each year with the U.S. World and News Report rankings of the top colleges and universities in the country, where Harvard or Princeton or both is always ranked No. 1.

Naturally, such a rivalry would inspire loyalty and devotion among its alums, and it's only enhanced when the current generation of Orange and Black takes on the current generation of Crimson.

Making it even better on top of that is the fact that there are Ivy League championship implications across all four events as the races start to get really serious.

If your measuring stick is big-time BCS football and men's basketball, you're missing something if you've never walked around an Ivy League school on a fall Saturday like the one coming up. There will be alums everywhere, all wearing their school colors, some going back many, many decades.

For TB's money, there aren't many days on many campuses that more represent what is good about college athletics.

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