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Big Time Football
Thomas Emery, Alum
Graduate School of Business 1977

I chose the Columbia Business School (in 1975) for my MBA program in part because it was a long way from the midwest, where I'd spent my life up till then.

One of my friends in the Business School was also a graduate of the College and wanted to take me to see a Columbia football game. As a serious college football fan, the most I knew about Columbia football before that was the notorious losing streak.

Football at Columbia in the 1970s (and I suspect still now) is a more than a little different than football in the midwest.

I had a terrific time and have spent hours over the years telling people about this experience. The game was played in "temporary" Baker Field -- an old wooden structure that, as was announced, was in its fifty-something year as a temporary facility. At least a third of the stadium was fenced off because the structure was unsafe. The Columbia marching band had kazoos and bassoons and violins and every kind of thing that could pass as an instrument. The narrative that accompanied the half-time show was sarcastic humor about New York's troubles (President Ford had just denied the city federal relief for its economic turmoil) and claimed NY was better than San Francisco during the earthquake, Chicago during the fire, or Philadelphia anytime!

The most I remember about the football game is that, comparatively, it seemed more like high school than the big midwestern college game. I'm not even sure but I think Columbia lost to Princeton. (Of course we had a good laugh at the Princeton band in straw hats and tiger striped sportcoats.)

If you've been a Columbia lion or a New Yorker your whole life, you may not appreciate the experience in the context that I do. I was, before I was at Columbia and ever since, a season ticket holder at the University of Michigan -- 112,000 of my closest friends, "soul on a roll" for lunch, a marching band that will trample anybody that gets in the way, too many TV time outs, and usually a decent team competing for league or national honors (last year notwithstanding).

I wouldn't trade this and my other Columbia memories for less than two free lunches, and I'd surely do it all over again.

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