Tuesday, November 27, 2018

It's TAGD Time


Check out this video (you may have to double click on it if it doesn't fully fit in your browser):

That's pretty good, right?

Actually, TigerBlog thinks it's tremendous. The narrator, of course, is Jesper Horsted of the unbeaten football team, and he did a pretty much perfect job of reciting the poem.

Oh, and what is the poem? TigerBlog's sense is that you recognize the last line and that you didn't know any of the rest of it.

The author is Grantland Rice, the most famous sportswriter of the early 20th century (and a baseball and football player at Vanderbilt before graduating in 1901). The actual poem is called "Alumnus Football," and Rice wrote it for a Vanderbilt alumni event in 1908.

The video is part of Tiger Athletics Give Day, the 24-hour fundraising event now in Year 5. And by now, TigerBlog means right now, as in it started at midnight Eastern time and will run until 11:59 Eastern time tonight.

TAGD grew out of the 150th anniversary of the first athletic event in Princeton history, a baseball game against Williams College on Nov. 22, 1864. Since its beginning, TAGD has helped Princeton Athletics raise more than $7 million, with a record $2.4 million a year ago.

Princeton Athletics uses that money to invest in the education and experience of its 1,000 student athletes and 37 varsity teams. Those athletes then use what they learn here in their educational and athletic pursuits and go off in so many different areas to make such a positive impact in their communities and globally, all fueled by their time as Princeton Tigers.

The loyalty that the experience here breeds is like nothing else that TigerBlog has seen anywhere else. There is an unspoken, but obvious, responsibility on the part of those who have come through here to give back to the next generation so that those experiences can exceed theirs.

When it came time to make the video for TAGD, TigerBlog hit upon the idea of finding some sort of historic text that spoke to the essence of sports and especially the values of Princeton Athletics. He found it in "Alumnus Football."

It actually started when he saw the very, very famous Grantland Rice lines about the 1924 Notre Dame-Army game:
Outlined against a blue-gray October sky the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as famine, pestilence, destruction and death. These are only aliases. Their real names are: Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden. They formed the crest of the South Bend cyclone before which another fighting Army team was swept over the precipice at the Polo Grounds this afternoon as 55,000 spectators peered down upon the bewildering panorama spread out upon the green plain below.

Now that's writing.

That took TigerBlog to the last line of "Alumnus Football," which he thought was just a quote of sorts, not a long poem. When he looked it up, he found out that it was in fact a much longer piece.

As he read it, he thought that it was perfect. Consider some of what is said (and consider that it was 1908):
*  "Oh Boy," he said, "the main point now before you win your bout ... is keep on bucking Failure till you've worn the piker out!"
* And more than all, when you are thrown or tumbled with a crack ... don't sit there whining-hustle up and keep on coming back
* Keep coming back with all you've got, without an alibi ... if Competition trips you up or lands upon your eye
* You'll find the road is long and rough, with soft spots far apart ... where only those can make the grade who have the Uphill Heart.
* Keep coming back, and though the world may romp across your spine ... let every game's end find you still upon the battling line

That speaks to so much of what Princeton Athletics is all about. Effort. Accountability. Learning from adversity. Working hard.

Once TB had the text chosen, he and his colleagues needed to find the right narrator. In the end, he did.

If you don't recognize him, that's record-setting wide receiver Jesper Horsted of the 10-0 football team in the video. He read it exactly as TB wanted him to, getting the message across and then wrapping it up dramatically with the famous ending. 

As Jesper narrates, the video - expertly shot by John Bullis - shows you representatives of all 37 teams and 17 Friends' groups. They are the direct beneficiaries of the support that has been shown on TAGD thus far, and anyone can see the pride that these athletes have with the opportunity to represent Princeton.

Today is TAGD. It's a fundraising day, one that is very competitive among the Friends groups and coaches as they compete to win the various brackets. It's also a lot of fun for everyone - fun and competitive puts it squarely in Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan's wheelhouse.

Speaking of Mollie, you'll be able to see her on the three Twitter Live productions for TAGD - at noon, 3 and 7. In addition to commenting on how the day is going, Mollie will also be part of a series of games and contests that will feature four Princeton coaches, with the winner to take on the AD. There's a possible ice bucket dousing in it for Mollie, depending on how it goes.

Princeton Athletics appreciates all of the support it gets from its alums and supporters all year, and on TAGD. There are so many positives that come out of that support, and they all directly impact some of the best young people you'll meet anywhere.

In the meantime, watch the video - and listen to the words. 

Even 110 years later, Grantland Rice had it correct.

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