Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Happiness Updated

As TigerBlog said yesterday, he received a comment a few weeks ago asking him three questions. 

Today, he addresses the first:

Which Princeton events have made you happiest? It might be a repeat of your answer to "greatest wins," but I suspect not.

This is in contrast to a question he was asked back in 2015, one that he answered HERE

That question was very similar, with a subtle, but huge, difference: 

What are the happiest moments you've experienced due to Princeton sports?

What's the difference between events and moments? Do events have to be games only? 

The list he came up with back then is more about what you would consider moments than events.

For instance, he wrote about the retirement party for Gary Walters, the bus ride home from Dartmouth after the 1991 men's basketball team wrapped up a 14-0 Ivy season and the traveling he's done, especially with people like Tom McCarthy and John McPhee. 

TB has been part of NCAA championship teams, Ivy League championship teams, some of the greatest moments in Princeton Athletics history. Those have all obviously made him happy.

As he thinks back to his time at Princeton, the types of moments he just mentioned, though, are what stand out the most.

For this list, TB decided he had two choices. He could write an update of the 2015 piece and only reference things from the last five years. Or he could write a new list with any event on it at all, but it has to be a game itself, not what instead could be described as a moment. 

The question does correctly suggest, though, that there is a difference between the elation of those greatest wins and simply pure happiness. The pure happiness part comes not from the game but from the people involved.

And that's why the moments are what stand out.

This is tough.

* as TB said yesterday, the men's basketball win over Penn in the last game of the 2001 Ivy League season left him as happy as any event he's seen here. Why? There were certainly better Princeton teams and bigger wins, but that one was a championship moment for what could be called the Bad News Bears of Princeton basketball. 

To see that team start from where it did and end where it did was extraordinary. Knowing how that team grew together, and knowing that TB had been a very small part of that growth, led to what could only be called great happiness.

Here are some others (again, the rule is that TB had to be at the event in person) to add to the list from 2015, including some that happened before 2015:

* the 16-12 men's lacrosse win over Virginia back in February of this year. It was the signature win for a team that needed one after a few years without one, and it clearly stamped the program as being among the very, very best in the country. It was 60 minutes of watching a team show off its newly found confidence and impose its will on the defending NCAA champion, and it was beautiful to watch. It didn't hurt that it was TB and TigerBlog Jr. on the radio together from Charlottesville.

* also from February, it was the wrestling team's win over Cornell to win the Ivy League title (Princeton's first since 1986) and end the Big Red's 18-year run. Having seen what Chris Ayres has done since he first arrived at Princeton and to have experienced the unrelenting faith he had that he would one day get the job done, seeing it play out was extraordinary.

* the 2004 women's soccer team's NCAA Final Four run, including all four games on Lourie-Love Field that postseason. It was the chance to see a team go on an unprecedented run and a community that swelled in appreciation while watching it.

* Princeton 13, Penn 11 in women's lacrosse at Franklin Field in 2019. Yes, part of it was the fact that it was the biggest step to an Ivy League championship for his daughter, but it also was one of the very best examples of pure toughness that TB has seen from a Princeton team, who had to kill off multiple unreleasable two-minute cards - including two that overlapped for 90 seconds - while also scoring the eventual game-winner while shorthanded. Oh, and this was done on the home field of a huge rival with a large home crowd in attendance.

* Princeton 43, UCLA 41 in the 1996 NCAA men's basketball tournament. Yes, this is more related to the historical significance, but beating the defending champion and knowing in the moment what it meant for Pete Carril's legacy makes it qualify for this list. 

* Donn Cabral's Ivy League Heptagonal cross country championship in 2010. TB was standing near the finish line, and the sheer greatness of watching Cabral dominate the field was awe-inspiring.

* Princeton 14, Dartmouth 9, 2018 football. Again, this crosses over into "greatest game" territory, but still, to see two teams go at it as intensely as these two did (in a matchup of unbeatens) and to see Princeton win crosses back over into being happy for the people involved, especially given that it led to Princeton's first unbeaten season in 54 years.

* Princeton women's track and field's second-place finish in the 2016 Ivy outdoor Heps. Second place? Yes, in this case, not being first still made TB happy, as he saw the outpouring of love for Peter Farrell in the final Heps of his 39-year Princeton career.

* Princeton's 2017 ECAC opening round win over Colgate in men's hockey. The games themselves were great, especially Game 2, where Princeton forced OT just before the horn and then won it to extend the series. More than that, this fell under the "so happy for the people involved" category, starting with head coach Ron Fogarty.

* Delaware 81, Princeton 70 in women's basketball, Dec. 2, 2011. Again, not happy with the outcome, just happy with what it meant for women's basketball to have two unbeaten teams in front of a huge crowd at Jadwin Gym. Also, TB is very happy he got to see Elena Delle Donne play in college. It was, as he wrote at the time, what it had to be like to see Bill Bradley play for Princeton in the 1960s.

Anyway, you can add these to the list he originally came out with in 2015. Fortunately, it's been three decades of having many more moments that made him happy than unhappy. It's one of the best parts of having been at a place like Princeton.

And again, if you're looking to add to the list of events that have made him happy? 

You can definitely add the next time Princeton plays in anything.

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