28 February 2010

Blue vs. Blue

So the last two weekends have featured the Oxford vs. Cambridge grudge matches. Apparently, this is the one game/match/event per year that defines the success or failure of each team. I am really not exaggerating; the number of "blues" (or varsity letters) that our team gets is related to whether or not we win the Varsity Match. Had we lost, our team would have not awarded any blues (blue suit coats--think the blue version of a master's jacket.)

I had been told that the games would be "epic" and had gotten a small flavor of thing last weekend during our Varsity match. For starters, there were actually chairs that "spectators" (I almost forgot what those were) could sit in. Then, we had warm-up music--a boombox in the corner blaring Backstreet Boys and classic Jock Jams. And then, to complete the epic-ness of the event, we had a commentator who announced us over the "sound system" before the game (we had to guess who he was actually introducing because we couldn't understand a word he said) and then did some commentary during the game. At first, I thought he was the John Madden of Oxford basketball, explaining things like jump balls and travels. I almost disconnected his mic. Then, I realized that the majority of the people in attendance probably didn't know what any of these things were, so I decided he could stay and I should just put up with it.

But there were plenty of things about Varsity games that needed a thorough explaining. I asked somewhat what Cambridge's mascot is. For starters, I think "mascot" was lost in translation as I received a puzzled look rather than an explanation. But then I turned things SAT style and said something along the lines of "Oxford is to Blues as Cambridge is to____?" "Blues". No, no, I said, I want to know Cambridges mascot. Well, apparently they are the blues as well. Talk about confusing cheering. Then a whole discussion of the color wheel broke out, because apparently, Cambridge is actually a minty-green and red (yes, it is a disgusting combination--in my humble opinion) and not actually blue at all--and Oxfordians everywhere are quite disgusted with this intellectual dishonesty. BUT, apparently, Cambridge's apparel provider no long carries minty-green and red (I can't imagine why) so now the tabs wear a North Carolina, powder-blue. It is basically like an elementary Duke vs. UNC game. I call being J.J. Reddick. (I'll even style my hair and sit on the bench the whole game--cough, NBA--if that's what it takes.)

In addition to my personal experiences with the Varsity Games, I went to lacrosse and hockey games yesterday. The hockey game was an incredible over-time thriller. The stands were packed, there was lots of crowd taunting, and Oxford pulled it out in exciting fashion. It was the closest to US sports I have experienced. The lacrosse game turned into a giant hail storm, which was great fun--I was afraid the icey bullets were going to puncture my umbrella. But after the storm subsided, the rivalry did not. Oxford was getting beat relatively handily when one of the Oxford fans yelled, "Draw blood Oxford!" And then added an aside: "Only metaphorically of course!" Only in Oxford.

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