My all-time favorite activity at summer camp was flag football. I was too small to play tackle, but I was quick and well- suited to the Velcro-strips-on-my-waist version. Alas, my team – whose name was no doubt catchy but is now long forgotten – was not the best in the camp, and so at the end of the season, we ended up as the underdogs in the aptly named “Toilet Bowl.”We had a slow-footed quarterback with a decent arm, a few kids who had reasonable catching abilities and myself as the speedy running back. Going into the game, we knew we weren’t going to win with skill, so we’d have to win with smarts. And so the night before the big game, I stayed up late – which at the time was probably 10 p.m. – and created the most devious playbook the world has ever known.The two plays I still remember designing were The Infinite Reverse and The Moving Blob. The Infinite Reverse consisted of us handing off the ball back and forth behind the line of scrimmage until someone could break free and run downfield. The Moving Blob had everyone putting one hand on the ball and marching downfield, the theory being that even if someone had their flags removed, they could just break from the bunch. In the end, I don’t remember how well either play worked, but I do remember that we won the game 14-7, and had a blast doing it.Which brings us to last Saturday night. As the noble Yellowjackets took the field in front of the largest crowd in recent memory, I was optimistic. I felt that maybe this year, if they put on a good show early in the season, people might keep coming back, and the football games might turn into a real campus-wide event the way they are at Division I schools.Although the game was a heartbreakingly close loss, unlike other blowouts I’ve witnessed, I still left with a bad taste in my mouth. It wasn’t just that we lost, it was how we lost. Unlike the 1996 Toilet Bowl, Saturday’s game featured some of the most bland play calling since the invention of the forward pass. Every single play was run from the shotgun, the ball was given to the running back who applied the tenet of geometry that the shortest line between two points was straight, and ran straight into the mass of players directly in front of him in a vain attempt to reach the end zone.Sure, there was an occasional incomplete pass, but by and large, the hand-off-run-into-the-other-team was the preferred play. Now I’m no football genius – although I have guided my Rochester franchise in NCAA Football 2005 to back-to-back national championships – but even I could see this strategy was not working. And yet, play after play, the same thing happened.But surely there was more to my displeasure than just witnessing a poor on-field performance. After all, college football is still loved despite the players being of a lesser caliber than their NFL counterparts. Then it hit me – There was no atmosphere. Sure, some fans were into it, but the lone bugler with the three song repertoire – to his credit, he added a fourth song for the final quarter – and the Scottish half-time show just didn’t sustain fan interest. Where was our faithful mascot URBee? Where were our big-brained cheerleaders? Where were the 21 students with “University Of Rochester” painted on their bare chests? Where was a Pep Band from Eastman or maybe even a Pep String Quartet?And so, my hope that this year it would be different, that football would rule the fall on campus, died another quiet death. Maybe next year, as a gift to the university, I’ll donate my game-winning Toilet Bowl playbook, and things will finally be different.Voigt can be reached at email@example.com.
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