Friday, December 15, 2017

Welcome To The Bubble

On a day like this past Wednesday, the 10 yard line on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium would have been a cold, lonely place any other year of the facility's existence.

Not any more.

TigerBlog stood on the 10 yard line, the one nearest the stadium tunnels, for more than an hour Wednesday afternoon. It was freezing in Princeton, with temps in the low 30s and a howling wind.

When TB got to Powers Field, there were two women's lacrosse players working on shooting. They wore shorts and pinnies.

Chad Kanoff, the Bushnell Cup winner as the Ivy League football Offensive Player of the Year, came in next, with a group of three others. They were filming something for a class.

Kanoff asked TigerBlog how much time they had to use the field, and TB responded that they had about 10 minutes. At that point, the men's lacrosse team would be out for the last event of its fall schedule, an intrasquad scrimmage. Not one player wore sweats; they all wore game shorts and short-sleeved jerseys.

On a day like this in any other year, with the weather biting the way it was, none of this would have been possible. The field would have been deserted.

That was before the Bubble.

Powers Field has been transformed in an astonishing way with the addition of the Bubble, an inflatable structure that is already having a huge effect on Princeton Athletics.

Construction for the Bubble began in the spring, as TB remembers it. Maybe even last winter.

The actual Bubble went up the week after the football season ended. After that, there was additional construction that had to be done after the structure was in place, such as the lights.

Then the Bubble was done.

TigerBlog, by the way, realizes that he is capitalizing "Bubble" unnecessarily, since it's not being used as a proper noun. Grammar is one of TB's strengths. Possessive case before a gerund. Nominative case after "like" or "as" if the pronoun is the understood subject of the clause, as opposed to the understood object. That kind of stuff.

In this case, he's okay with his error. He feels like the Bubble has earned that respect. In all seriousness, the Bubble is incredible.

If you've been inside a bubble (small b) in the past, then you know that they share two qualities. First, they're loud. It's from the compressor or something. Second, the lighting is never good.

In the case of the Bubble, neither of those is true. The first things you notice about being inside of it is that it's quiet and it's bright.

It's also rather interesting in that you never get the sense that you're standing on the Princeton football field. Yes, it's the same exact field, but with the Bubble there, there's just no sense that you're surrounded by any seats, let alone 27,800 of them. It feels like you're in a completely different venue.

So what's the value of the Bubble (TigerBlog would call it "TB" but that would be too confusing)?

Take just what happened in there Wednesday. No Bubble? No women's lacrosse players who were getting up extra shots. The Kanoff video would probably not have happened.

And the men's lacrosse scrimmage? It would have been outdoors, where it wouldn't have had a fraction of the value it had inside.

Yes, there will be times that teams need to be outside in the elements. But giving them a place to practice or scrimmage that's inside increases the quality and the overall experience for everyone involved.

And of course it's regulation sized, as opposed to the Jadwin pit. If you've never been in the pit (small p), it's behind the indoor tennis courts. It's a nice field, with a baseball diamond but not much more. There certainly isn't a regulation football field down there.

The Bubble will be used by almost any team that plays on a field here. It can be subdivided, so multiple teams can use it at the same time. It can also be used by clubs and intramurals, and even outside groups.

TigerBlog hasn't heard anyone who has been inside the Bubble who hasn't been amazed by it. TB certainly was.

The Bubble will be put up every year after the football season and will be taken down in the spring at some point. TB isn't sure where it gets stored or how small it is when it's completely folded.

As for this weekend in Princeton Athletics, there are three events. The wrestling team is in Delaware tonight at 8 to take on Ohio State. Where are the Buckeyes ranked? Would it shock to know that they're higher in wrestling than football?

Actually they're No. 1 in wrestling.

The men's basketball team leaves today for its 12-day trip to California and Hawaii, with Game 1 tomorrow night at 10 Eastern against Cal Poly.

The women's basketball team is at Wagner Sunday at 1.

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