Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Built Ford Tough

TigerBlog's first car was a Dodge Diplomat, which meant he was driving a Chrysler.

As TB remembers the car, the lock to the glove compartment wouldn't open, though the locking unit itself also would come off into TB's hand if he moved the key in just the right way. To TB, it was the perfect mechanism, since the lock, while technically stuck in the locked position, was still able to be opened.

The car was two-tone, red and white, with white leather seats and, of course, an eight-track player.

The car progression went like this: Dodge Diplomat, VW Rabbit, VW Jetta, Chrysler LeBaron, Pontiac Grand Am (actually two of those) and then back-to-back Ford Tauruses, before going to a minivan and now a mini-SUV, both from Japanese companies.

TB has never been one of those people who was consumed by a "dream car." TB's dream car is one that is reliable, doesn't break down, doesn't need a lot of maintenance.

He hasn't had a terrible experience with any of the cars he's owned. When his current car is paid off, he'll keep it for as long as possible before getting another one, though he has no idea what that will be.

Maybe, though, he'll give Ford another chance.

For starters, Ford was the only one of the Big 3 American car companies not to take federal bailout money.

And for another, the Ford family has now endowed the Director of Athletics position at Princeton, as well as providing additional endowment for programs that will directly aid student-athlete experience.

From now on, Gary Walters - the first person to hold this endowed position - will be known as the "Ford Family Director of Athletics."

Yes, TB knows that the first reaction could be an eye roll, not because of this one but because of all of the named positions that come about. At Harvard, for instance, Bob Scalise is the "Nichols Family Director of Athletics."

The first thought from the outside looking in is that this is snobbishness or ego-driven or even Ivy League elitism, though there are colleges on all levels that do this.

The reality, though, is that Princeton Athletics is not rolling in money, regardless of the University's endowment. There are all kinds of limitations to what Princeton - and schools everywhere - has been able to do because of monetary limitations, and the need to fund-raise is ever-present.

The gift from the Ford family is a huge step forward for Princeton Athletics, and it will have a direct impact on the experience that Princeton's athletes have here. In turn, those athletes, once they graduate, will in large numbers, be part of the group of former athletes who also support the programs they represented.

Yes, it can be bulky to welcome people to Powers Field at Princeton Stadium, but the presence of FieldTurf in the football stadium and on the practice fields has been a great addition.

Yes, it can be bulky to say Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium, but ask any Princeton soccer player the last four years if they like playing at the facility and if they appreciate what the Myslik and Roberts families have done.

The gift from the Ford family will do more of the same, and figures to touch athletes across every sport here.

While it may be bulky to say, it's significance cannot be underestimated.

In a perfect world, corporate sponsorship and individual naming rights wouldn't be necessary.

In 2011, it's just how it is, and the value in what these gifts do help make places like Princeton Athletics much more able to perform the core function of providing the best possible experience for the athletes who give so much to compete here.

Those athletes owe the Ford family a huge thank you.

Whatever kind of car they drive.


Anonymous said...

I drive a Ford Escort myself.

I want to thank the Ford family for their loyalty to, and support of, Princeton athletics. Rah.

Anonymous said...

We have been a Ford family for the past decade and my company runs a fleet of 30+ Ford vans and cars. They have proven to be high quality, good value automobiles. Thanks to the Ford family for their generous contribution to Princeton athletics, and congratulations to Mr. Walters on his distinguishment. GO TIGERS!

The Cody Family

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