Friday, June 26, 2009

Farrah, Michael – And The Princeton Athletics Year In Review

So Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson died on the same day?

If you weren't lucky enough to grow up in the 1970s, you probably don't understand what the fuss over Farrah was all about. If you're TigerBlog's age, you know that there have been very few American cultural icons who ever became as big as Farrah was in the 1970s, when her presence drove Charlie's Angels from being a silly show about three bored female police officers into a mega-hit that impacted hair styles, mass media and even the women's movement.

How big was Fawcett? The famous Farrah poster sold three million copies in February and March 1977 alone. Even with today's overexposure of celebrities and their lives, there are none who match up with the impact that Farrah had on Americana of the 1970s. (As an aside, TigerBlog remembers a commercial for a Farrah doll that had a torturous song to go along with it; TB couldn't get it out of his head for at least a decade).

If you weren't old enough for the ’70s and just remember her for some strange reality show and other projects that kept her on the fringes of fame, you might have wondered why all the hoopla as her cancer began to worsen. Why the hoopla? Because in her day, she was the Marilyn Monroe of the 1970s.

Of course, one cultural icon who did reach her level was Michael Jackson, whose death several hours after Fawcett's was, unlike hers, unexpected and as such completely knocked hers off of the main pages.

TigerBlog remembers the old TV show "The Jackson Five" and remains a big fan of some of the group's songs, especially "The Love You Save," "Never Can Say Goodbye" and "I Want You Back."

TB wasn't a big fan of the "King of Pop" as he drifted into a really bizarre world, and had TigerBlog Jr. and Little Miss TigerBlog asked to vacation with Jackson at his Neverland ranch, the answer would have been "uh, no." Still, one can't help but acknowledge the huge impact Jackson had on the world of mass media. His album "Thriller" sold 45 million copies and also helped change music from something you listened to to something you watched. TB never was a fan of much of Jackson's solo stuff (though he does remember his childhood friend Brad Zucker as he went through his "I'm Brad, I'm Brad" phase). Still, there is no denying that there was no bigger star in the world than Michael Jackson for much of the 1980s and 1990s (except for those of us from the Jersey Shore, where loyalty to Springsteen runs deep).

Usually, TigerBlog employs a segue of sorts from this part of his rant to the part that has to do with Princeton Athletics. Today's entry was going to be about the Princeton Athletics Year in Review, a written piece whose text is used in various places here at TigerBlog HQ.

Today, there will be no such segue, as Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson have nothing to do with Princeton Athletics, as near as TB can figure. Still, for someone in TigerBlog's age group, it was impossible to write something today without mentioning those two.

As for the year in review, 2008-09 was by almost any accounts an extraordinary one for Princeton athletics. In much the same way as great literature combines laughter and tears, so too did this past year, with its undeniable success (11 Ivy titles, two national championships, 25 of 33 teams in the top three in the Ivy League in their sport, a 23rd straight unofficial Ivy all-sports points championship) coupled with some epic defeats (men's hockey vs. Minnesota Duluth in the NCAA tournament, men's squash in the national finals to Trinity) and the departure of two of the coaching legends in school history (men's lacrosse coach Bill Tierney, men's/women's volleyball coach Glenn Nelson).

TigerBlog understands that when writing for the University, as opposed to an outside publication, a certain amount of spin is necessary. At the same time, there was no way to tell the story of all of Princeton's athletic success without touching on those two losses.

First, those losses are events that will be remembered by those who watched them or read about them forever. It is TigerBlog's contention that if men's college squash was as popular a sport as men's college basketball or college football, then the Trinity-Princeton final of 2009 would be remembered as the greatest collegiate sporting event of all time.

Second, if athletics on this level are supposed to be part of the educational experience, then who could argue the fact that those who came out on the losing end of those two events learned lessons that will stay with them until the day they die?

As for the year as a whole, Princeton teams played 586 head-to-head contests in 2008-09, not counting multi-team events such as a cross country race or golf tournament, and all of the teams combined for a 354-224-8 record, or a winning percentage of .611. That's pretty good stuff.

Not a bad way to end the decade, right? Oh yeah, the decade is coming to a close, and a new one will start, pushing the 1970s and 1980s further into the rear view mirror. Those days are far enough away that some of the biggest stars of those time are no longer here, and yet, for those of us who were just starting to figure the world out at the time, icons like Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson will stay with us forever.


Anonymous said...

Thinking back to your earlier post about famous people who have visited the website, which of these two were more likely to have visited the site before their untimely demise?

Princeton OAC said...

It's tough to say. On the one hand, Michael Jackson was friends with Princeton alum Brooke Shields, so perhaps she referred him. On the other hand, we'll go with Farrah, because she and Ryan O'Neil had to be watching "Love Story" together at some point and that had to have triggered some discussion of Harvard, and ultimately, Ivy League athletics.

Anonymous said...

Your year-end summary recounts the tying goal by Minnesota-Duluth coming with less than five seconds remaining in the game. In reality, it came with 0.7 seconds on the clock (although of course your statement is not incorrect).

You might be thinking of the other two ridiculous end-game theatrics this year: BU scoring twice in the last minute to tie Miami in the NCAA hockey championship game or Syracuse scoring with 4.5 seconds left to tie Cornell in lacrosse.

Princeton OAC said...

The correction has been made. Thanks for the heads up.

Anonymous said...

Two TigerBlogs in one day. I thought the summer would be slow. Keep up the good work.

Princeton OAC said...

It's actually proving to be easier in the summer, because there aren't any events.