Big, cold and….sporty?

Yes. Big, cold and sporty is what the University of Minnesota is, according to the Sparknotes Guide of the 283 Great Colleges. As I was thumbing through this fine volume the other day and came across that description, my feeling âÄî aside from my relief to find we were in the list of great colleges âÄî was that our summary was crappy. Not only did it fail to mention the uniquely metro location, the âÄòcampusyâÄô campus, the world-class research, the brilliant arts scene or the beautiful Midwestern people who define the school. But the description also went to far as to call us a âÄúsportyâÄù place as the only subjective qualifier. Are we really sporty? ItâÄôs true the University has a strong Big Ten athletics program and more division one and competitive club sports that you can shake a stick at, but for a few reasons I donâÄôt think that the descriptor fits. What Sparknotes was getting at with their descriptions would be the equivalent of what a wise cousin or older brother who had the inside scoop would say about the place to prospective student. It was an attempt to sum up the student culture at the University, to look deeper beneath the unrevealing statistics and pictures of the universities profiled and sum up the college experience. âÄòSo man, should I really go to this University of Minnesota place?âÄô âÄòWell,âÄô the wise one would answer. âÄòItâÄôs big, cold and sporty. So no, you shouldnâÄôt attend.âÄô ThereâÄôs no doubt that some people in the University would like us to become more of a sporty campus. Bringing the football team to campus with a beautiful new stadium and hiring one of the best coaches in college basketball from the most winning program in the game are just a few of the expensive boosts that our athletic program have received. Though to Bruininks and others at the top who have to pay the bills at the University, IâÄôm sure being a sporty campus makes sense. Athletics is a powerful revenue generator and strong teams with nice facilities can mean more donor support, more merchandising, more attendance and in the end more money (for the betterment of academics?). Maybe I disagree with the term sporty because since IâÄôve been here our premier teams havenâÄôt been remarkable. TheyâÄôve ranged from bad to decent. But as far as I know, really nothing to remark about. The sporty culture does exist and is strong here, but it is just one of the many cultures. The college is big not just in size, but also in diversity. Calling us sporty would be like calling us a âÄúgreekâÄù campus. There is indeed a strong greek community with a large presence on University Avenue. But to step back and say that our school is greek wouldnâÄôt be right. The greek community is ignored by just as many students as the sports here. I don’t feel shorted from my University experience for not knowing or caring anything about sports. The academic and extra-circulars at the University are too strong for that to be true. But can you really call any colleges sporty? ItâÄôs a lazy term that describes just about as well as its sister descriptor: jock. I can think of a few colleges off of the top of my head that I would consider to be sporty âÄì the University of Southern California, Ohio State University and Duke. However, for the same reasons I wouldnâÄôt think that we were a sporty campus, perhaps these institutions would also reject to a similar labeling. Maybe sporty is a term that can only really be used when applied from the outside, from someone who only knows about the University as an observer. Someone like the person who wrote the Sparknotes description. The bigger the college the harder it is to make generalizations about it, aside from the obvious physical ones like as big or cold. There are sports here and they are somewhat popular. But lets think a little before calling us sporty because if you are going to do that there are so many different things that you could call the University. My University is big and cold, nerdy, partying, diverse and yes maybe sometimes athletically-school-spirited, big-bad University of Minnesota.