Thursday, February 26, 2015

That's History

TigerBlog was an American history major at Penn.

Maybe he should have gone down a different path. Maybe physics. Or accounting.

Nah, history suited him. He's always liked the way one era flowed into another, the way it all built on itself, the way a modern world emerged from an older one.

He has the right kind of brain for memorizing dates and places. All in all, it fit him well.

Because of that, TigerBlog was only to happy to volunteer to be one of the readers of the questions at the History Bowl event at a middle school yesterday.

You know how this works. There are teams of kids from different schools who compete against each other answering questions about history, with points awarded in different ways.

In the end, the winning "team" was a single young man who was the sole representative from his school. He went up against other schools who fielded teams of four, and yet he beat all of them. It was pretty impressive.

TigerBlog read the questions for four matches. There were four rounds to each match, with four separate ways of awarding points. The bottom line, though, was that it was all historical trivia.

What surprised TB was the nature of the questions. Very few of them were American history. Most of them were European or non-Western, many going back to medieval times or even ancient times.

It made them pretty hard questions, at least for TB. Perhaps it's because that's the kind of stuff kids study in that age group. TB isn't sure. He just figured there'd be more American history questions than anything else.

And how would TB have done had he competed? He wouldn't have won, that's for sure. Maybe if it was more American history, he would have liked his chances more.

And while TB was thinking back to his college major, it dawned on him that there are things that history students study today that hadn't happened yet when TB was in college. That's a tad frightening. 

Anyway, fast-forwarding to the present, or even a few days into the future, there will be three Ivy League championships crowned this weekend, at a minimum. And one of them will definitely be awarded on the Princeton campus.

And possibly a second. At least mathematically.

Let's start with the first, which starts today and will run until Saturday. The Ivy League men's swimming and diving championships will be at DeNunzio Pool, and if history - and pre-meet projections - are an indicator, then the winner will be either Princeton or Harvard.

A week ago, TigerBlog pointed out that the last time the Ivy women's championship was won by someone other than those two schools was in 1999. Princeton then extended that streak by winning the 2015 title.

The domination by Princeton and Harvard on the men's side has been even greater. On the men's side, either Princeton or Harvard has won every year since 1993, when Yale got a share of the title with Harvard.

Anyway, there are afternoon and evening sessions today, tomorrow and Saturday.

Meanwhile, up at Harvard, it'll be the Ivy League Heptagonal indoor track and field championships for men and women.

As in swimming and diving, men's indoor track and field has been dominated by two schools for a long time, in this case, Princeton and Cornell. In fact, it's back to 1996 to find a different winner (it was Penn that year).

On the women's side, there have been four winners in the last six years - Princeton twice, Harvard twice, Cornell and Columbia once each.

The indoor Heps go Saturday and Sunday.

The other possible Ivy League champion for this weekend would be in women's basketball.

Princeton plays at home against Yale tomorrow night and Brown Saturday. A sweep by the 14th-ranked Tigers mathematically eliminates every team in the league other than Penn.

Right now, Princeton is 9-0 in the league - and 25-0 overall, the only undefeated women's basketball team in Division I. Penn is 7-2, while Cornell and Yale are both 6-4.

If Princeton wins tomorrow, then Yale would be eliminated. If Princeton sweeps, then neither Yale nor Cornell could catch Princeton.

If Penn splits with Yale and Brown and Princeton sweeps, then Princeton would be three games up on Penn with three to play. If Princeton sweeps and Penn gets swept, then Princeton would clinch the outright title.

ON THE OTHER HAND - that's all caps, so TB must be serious here - Princeton has to play Penn in the final game of the season at the Palestra. All Penn wants to do is have a shot at tying for the championship that night, which requires Princeton to lose one along the way and Penn to keep winning.

Will it happen? The four teams Princeton plays between now and then have all lost to the Tigers, by a lot (Brown), a lot (Columbia) a lot (Cornell) and a little (Yale, who lost by six in the first game between the two.

Yes, Princeton is the heavy favorite. No, nothing is etched in stone until it happens.

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