Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Back To School

Connie Zotos offered to buy TigerBlog dinner last night.

Zotos teaches a graduate seminar on sports management at NYU, and TigerBlog was there to speak about his experiences at Princeton. This would be the third straight year he's done so.

As with the other two appearances, TB's trip into the city included dinner. This time, Connie apologized for the lack of quality places to eat between the parking lot and the classroom, which was about a four or five block area.

There was a diner, she said, almost embarrassed. A diner? Perfect, TB said.

Like any good New York City diner, this one had a menu that ran about 10 pages long or so. It didn't matter. TB didn't even need to open his up. There's only one choice.

A turkey club.

TB's favorite sandwich by far is the turkey club. And at an NYC diner or deli? With real turkey? Even better.

It's a simple sandwich. Turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato. In this case, TB got his without mayo and on wheat toast, three slices worth.

What could be better? Well, TB added matzoh ball soup. That made it better.

The sandwich came with fries, cole slaw and pickle. TB, figuring he could splurge in the big city, ate the fries but not the cole slaw.

And there were a lot of years when he would have gone with either the huge chocolate chip cookie or even a black-and-white, but he passed on those as well.

TigerBlog encountered almost no traffic on his way into the city, which is a rarity. Other than a really minor fender-bender that had a lane near the Holland Tunnel blocked, there was nothing that slowed him down on his way in.

He reached the Holland Tunnel at 4. The class began at 6:20 and ran to 8:50, and TB was supposed to meet Connie on 12th Street around 4:30-4:45. He figured he was running late, since getting in at that time of day could cost an extra half-hour or more.

Actually, the traffic by the tunnel and on the approach to the Turnpike was worse on the way out, even though it was after 9:30 by then.

In between, TB had his great sandwich. And he got to speak to the grad students again, something he's come to really enjoy.

As with the other two years, TB was supposed to talk about Princeton Athletic Communications and Princeton Athletics in general. Talk about the differences between the Ivy League model and the rest of Division I. Talk about social media and Princeton's policies and procedures. Talk about how what he does has evolved through the years.

It can be a daunting task to talk for 2.5 hours and try to make it entertaining and educational. It's really up to the students to make the class work, and all three years they've done so.

There were 16 students in this class, and they were all pretty engaged in the subject. They asked questions about recruiting, fund-raising, Twitter, what advantages Princeton has, what disadvantages Princeton has.

There were a lot of questions about Ivy League admissions and how the Academic Index works. 

One of the best questions was about how Princeton measures athletic success. Is it simply wins and losses, or does it go beyond that?

TigerBlog's answer was an involved one. And it's one of his favorite parts about being at Princeton.

TB started out by explaining all of the co-curricular value of Princeton Athletics. And about many of the amazing non-athletic achievements of Princeton's athletes, how they balance their athletic and educational commitments and still find the chance to give their time in the community and even around the world.

And then TB said that it would be easy for Princeton to hide behind all of that as an excuse as to why it would also be too much to expect to put quality teams on the field. Instead, it's not something that TB has ever heard.

No. College athletics is a competitive business. Someone wins. Someone loses. Athletic success is measured publicly in that manner, and it's something that just goes along with the territory. Hey, Princeton's competitors are trying to win. Why wouldn't Princeton?

Athletic success is measured by winning. Just not at all costs.

TB showed the class some of the most recent Tiger All-Access video, the one about the wrestling team. When he talked about videostreaming, he clicked on the link for the men's volleyball match just in time to see the final point - and hear the very entertaining women announcers say "good night America."

TigerBlog enjoyed his time speaking in New York. As he has each time he's done it.

He's not wild about New York City. It's never been his favorite place.

Still, for this night, it was really nice. No traffic. A real turkey club.

And some interested, and interesting, young men and women who wanted to know about Princeton Athletics.

All in all, it was a pretty good trip.

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