Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

73° Evanston, IL
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Levin: The power of sports in uniting NU

Two years ago I watched history unfold mere feet away from me, and I had no idea what was going on.

I’m talking about Northwestern’s near-win over Auburn in the 2010 Outback Bowl. I was inches away from Zeke Markshausen when he was pushed out of bounds, six feet from the endzone and a monumental, drought-shattering victory. Like almost everyone in Raymond James Stadium, I had no idea what had just transpired.

As a (hopefully) wiser senior, I now think of the Outback Bowl not as a defeat, but as the epitome of everything that should be celebrated about NU. Despite lacking facilities, funds and fan support in every conference game and most postseason contests, NU’s football and basketball teams have recently managed to do what few before them could – remain competitive.

Three decades ago, NU’s football team lost 34 games in a row, a record for futility that still stands. Two decades ago, the athletic department sold a game to Ohio State; the Buckeyes named the price, and the Wildcats played a “home” game in Cleveland. Wins were so rare that students would literally tear down the field goal posts after a victory.

Now, NU’s six-time national champion lacrosse team is hosting NCAA tournament games on a beautiful lakeside field, the football team has played in four consecutive bowl games and the men’s basketball team has strung together the best four year run in its history.

For all the agony of the countless blown leads and overtime losses, it’s impossible to deny that we are in the midst of the most successful era in the history of NU athletics.

As a sports writer, I could not have asked for a more enjoyable and educational four years. In my time working for The Daily, I’ve had the good fortune to see things and go places that will forever shape how I think of NU. From the elation of an upset of an undefeated, top-5 team to the agony of defeat after a loss in the national championship game.

For these opportunities I need to thank my editors and fellow writers at The Daily, who taught me more than any single class. And thank you, as well, to the countless Sports Information Directors in NU’s athletic department who dealt with my annoying e-mails and stupid questions. I also owe a large debt to the athletes and coaches who took time to speak with me, earnestly and honestly, when I’m sure there were dozens of other things they could have and probably should have been doing. And finally to my friends, classmates and family, who supported me and listened while I rambled on about NU sports, I will be forever grateful.

In exactly three weeks I will walk across the stage at Ryan Field, one final celebration at a place that is home to some of my finest memories. No doubt it will be bittersweet, but I graduate with a certain excitement because I know NU’s athletic adventures transcend Evanston. It’s a lesson I learned at a bar in Buenos Aires as I and a dozen classmates watched NU play Illinois at Wrigley Field. For better or worse, in bad times and (especially) good ones, sports serve to unite the broader purple community.

And unlike many a class before us, the Class of 2012 can pack up and head out with a legitimate sense of optimism. We’ve witnessed the most successful run in school history, but perhaps the best is yet to come.

Robbie Levin is a Medill senior. He can be reached at [email protected]

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Levin: The power of sports in uniting NU