Friday, December 18, 2009

Big Ten. . .wait a sec . . . Big Twelve?!?

Conversation between Kingsley as a freshmen at Northwestern University (K) and an upperclassmen friend (U)

K- wait, the Big Ten has 11 teams?!?

S- uh. . . yeah. . . well, they added Penn State in 1992 and never changed the name.

K-ok, I guess that makes sense, Big 11 doesn’t sound as good

S-dude didn’t you ever notice that in the Big Ten logo there’s a “11” outlined around the “T” in “Ten”

K-[stunned silence as my mind is blown]

Okay, after 9 years of being a Big Ten fan, I finally got my head around the fact that the Big Ten has eleven teams and now I hear that they want to add another one. Really people, if you add another team and you don’t change the name, you will have some really confused Asian freshmen at Northwestern.

This week the news broke that Big Ten was looking into adding another university to the conference. Twelve teams would make it easier to have a singular Big Ten Champion every year and keeping the teams playing through November and December would probably help keep the teams more fresh for bowl games. Adding a university would pull in another region of fans and add new energy to the conference. At the same I worry that we are doing this for the wrong reasons. All of the commentary and blogs that I've read about this subject have failed to recognize something very important. The Big Ten is not just about football.

My first year of Graduate School Northwestern University, we hosted the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) Music Education conference.

Every year a different school in the Big Ten hosts all of the music education professors and doctoral candidates for an annual conference. I had the opportunity to be part of this as a participant and a bar tender (yeah that's a different story). It was an amazing thing to see these people come together and share knowledge. I discovered that it was the norm for Big Ten Professors to collaborate on research. This sense of community benefits the music education profession greatly in the Midwest and I am grateful to be a part of it.

Now I admit that as a member of the Northwestern University Marching Band we would make jokes about other Big Ten teams but the amazing thing is that whenever we would visit another school as a band or another band would visit Northwestern the sense of camaraderie was amazing. The drum lines would have drum offs, marching bands would host receptions for visiting bands and we would often invite each other to parties after games.

My favorite Big Ten band bonding memory was when we were playing at an away game and the home marching band alto saxophone section brought us a gift bag. Excited, the whole alto sax section (my section) starting changing "what's in the bag? what's in the bag?" My section leader reached in the bag and pulled out a bottle of Jose Cuervo. We immediately changed the change "put it back in the bag! put it back in the bag," knowing how much trouble we'd be in if we were caught with that bottle in uniform. Later that night we met up with the other band's alto section and shared the bottle at a great party they hosted. I couldn't tell you which of our teams won the game that day but what I do know is that it never came up when we were hanging out.

Probably the greatest thing about the Big Ten experiences are ROAD TRIPS. It's awesome that ever school is within driving distance of each other. That's something that conferences like Pac 10 simply doesn't have. Road trips are a norm for Big Ten fans and I'd hate for a university to join and not be part of this experience.

The one reason that I've heard to add another university that bothers me is to raise revenue. First off, the Big Ten is doing ok with money from what I hear and really if the Big Ten made decisions motivated only by money we would serve alcohol in stadium, we would cutting sports that didn't bring in large audiences and universities would cut majors that didn't result in rich alumni donors.

Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against making the Big Ten a dozen. I just want to make sure that we are all thinking what being part of the Big Ten means.

I'm proud to be part of the Big Ten. That pride doesn't come from championships or viewership.
It's come from being part of an community, sharing amazing experiences with friends and being part of a great American tradition.

1 comment:

  1. Personally, I'd just rather they stay the Big 11. The only way that I'd be for adding another school is if it would be Notre Dame.

    Rutgers? Really? Although, it'd be an extra win for my Indiana Hoosiers during basketball season.