Dipping a toe in: new sport same sports fan

This past weekend, my mission was to watch a sport I had never seen before. Now I must admit, as big a sports fan as I am, water polo is something I have little knowledge about. Throughout my life, I have played the role of expert sports fan in baseball, basketball and football, so watching a sport I really don’t know very much about was a change for me. Here’s what I learned.

  1. Not knowing what’s going on can make it kind of hard to follow a game. There was a lot more kicking and grabbing and splashing than I expected. Water polo can be a very aggressive game. Most of the time, water polo offensive possessions are spent passing the ball around, looking for the best shot opportunity. I’d compare it to basketball passes around the perimeter to create an open three-point shot. Defenders often shove and slap the offensive players to try to stop shots, and players on offense return in kind.

I found my eyes jumping all over the place since I hadn’t mastered the technique of watching the sport yet. I missed goals because I wasn’t looking at the right place. (Most of the time I was instead focused on the aforementioned shoves and slaps.) It was harder to keep track of the ball than one would think, since there was a lot of splashing.

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Everyone slow down so my eyes can catch up.

  1.       Otherwise insignificant details start to stand out.

For instance, the pool looks really blue. Some would argue that I don’t sound like the most knowledgeable water polo fan. Some might even say I sound like I don’t know anything about water polo. But that pool does look really blue — is that a dark blue? A medium blue? Turquoise?

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The colors are mesmerizing.

I also spent way too much time looking at the water polo caps. They look sort of like those 1920’s flying helmets, if they were combined with normal swimming caps. So of course my attention started to wander — I always wanted to be a 1920s pilot like Snoopy was. He looked really cool on the top of his doghouse. How did he fit on that doghouse anyway? The dimensions of a doghouse wouldn’t be large enough for a dog to — huh? Oh yeah. Back to water polo.

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  1.     It’s easy for people to think they’re “experts” way too quickly.

I found myself making critiques like I would for any other sport. Those passes needed to be crisper. That shot needed to be more accurate and on point. There needed to be more ball movement. It’s a phenomenon that rolls around with the Olympics when I somehow think that I know everything about figure skating and the triple toe lutz.

By the end of the game I was analyzing plays and defenses even though I didn’t even know how many players are allowed to be in the pool at one time. It’s probably best to know the rules of the game before designing basketball knock-off give-and-go plays for the team in your head.

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I could do it better.

  1.       It’s a lot of fun.

Sure, the popular sports like basketball and football are great, but they can get pretty stale after you’ve watched them day after day and year after year. People always tell you to expand your horizons, and nothing expands your horizons more than being put in a situation you know nothing about and floundering around for a while. By the end of the game — a closely fought match — I was rooting hard for Brown. It won’t be the last water polo game I watch.


Taking in ‘American Honey’

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Walking out of a screening of the visceral of “American Honey,” I wasn’t sure what to think. Few films this year are comparable visually and in terms of character analysis. That being said, despite its excellent direction, acting and visuals, the film had a number of flaws.

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Brown Lecture Board announces Gina Rodriguez as speaker

The Brown Lecture Board announced Nov. 1 that award-winning actress Gina Rodriguez will come to campus to speak Nov. 21.

Rodriguez, who is featured in the film “Deepwater Horizon” and stars in the television comedy series “Jane the Virgin” as protagonist Jane Gloriana Villanueva, has been nominated twice for a Golden Globe in the “Best Actress — Television Series Musical or Comedy” category, which she won in 2015.

Rodriguez is “at the height of her career,” said Allison Schaefer ’17, vice president of marketing and public relations for Brown Lecture Board.  “She is an amazing actress. There are currently so few Latina leads on network television, and she will bring a really important perspective to campus,” Schaefer said. “She’s been very active in promoting and helping first-generation students go to college, so the lecture will be a great complement to the opening of the First Generation College and Low-Income Student Center.”

The lecture will be Nov. 21 at 7:00 p.m. in Salomon. Students will have a chance to enter the lottery for tickets Nov. 9, 10 and 11.


Chicken Finger Friday

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For those who miss the unhealthy brilliance and splendor of high school cafeteria lunches, and are tired of the Ratty’s usual offerings, Chicken Finger Friday serves as a much-needed break. Entering the VDub and walking though the brashly painted walls, one catches the heavenly scent of that chicken. After a long week, filled with homework, late-night reading, and the occasional, fear-inducing midterm (one of which I am writing this article instead of studying for!), there is no better way to let all the tension out then grabbing a plate, throwing those hunks of fried goodness on top of it, and spraying sauce all over. Ketchup and mustard are common choices, but for those who really know how to eat, hot sauce is the only way to go.

To give an honest picture, Chicken Finger Friday can be a bit of a free-for-all. Hyper and tense, freshmen elbow and grapple for position. Hands frantically reach for tongs. Sauces get everywhere—on the floor, on shirts, hands, fingers, and especially napkins. The VDub is at full capacity; tables are entirely surrounded, every little corner taken up, every chair slid into impossibly tight spaces.

Eventually, one always finds oneself crammed around a small table with about nine or ten other friends, sitting on  half of a wooden chair, teetering on the edge of falling on the floor. Plates cover the entire table surface. Everything is encased by a coat of stickiness. Yet nothing beats the satisfaction that comes with a successful Chicken Finger Friday. The meal signals the dawning of the weekend, the end of the darkness of a mid-semester school week, and more than anything else, is reminiscent of those heavenly meals that featured McDonalds and Burger King chicken nuggets.

At Brown, some of the littlest things bring the greatest pleasure. It’s important to appreciate them. As some have taken to saying, “Chicken Finger Friday is life.”

 


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Brown Announces Director of Race and Ethnicity in America

In case you were wondering, Brown is just a few short steps away from solving racism in the United States. In what may very well be a cap to the university’s Diversity and Inclusion Plan, Brown’s directory has named Professor Tricia Rose “Director of Race and Ethnicity in America.” (Not the Center of the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America — just Race and Ethnicity in America.)

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There’s a new dean in town (kinda)

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Helping students with the varied academic issues they encounter has been Dean Shannon O’Neill’s job as the Dean of Juniors and Seniors, since she came to Brown in 2015. This past spring, her role has grew to include handling students’ struggles around substance abuse and sobriety.

For many the title Dean of Chemical Dependency will arouse confusion or curiosity, maybe even eliciting a snort or a chuckle. But, as college campuses are often filled with vibrant and at times destructive party scenes, the position makes sense for a lot of people. The Dean of Chemical Dependency has a job that differs from that of any other Dean because they face the trials and tribulations of students and faculty striving to remain sober. To simplify things, let’s call O’Neill the Sober Dean.

Surprisingly, this title is not new. According to Maud Mandel, Dean of the College, this job has a long standing history, having gradually evolved into what it is today. It started in the 1970’s with Associate Dean Bruce Donovan, whose passion for this kind of work filled a void on campus. As Mandel put it, the position, “was unique across the higher ed landscape.” Dean Donovan initially worked alongside Health services with the intention of aiding faculty in recovery, or those with family members or friends dealing with the disease. The support services began branching out to students and by the 1980’s supporting students’ became the primary focus.

When Donovan retired in 2003, Mandel explained that, “a number of people on and off campus that he had been working with, including alumni, endowed a position to keep the work ongoing and that’s when the position of Dean of Chemical Dependency took shape.”

This position might seem redundant when CAPS and health services already provide support in this realm. Dean Mandel clarified that the intention of the position “was for students going through recovery to continue to be successful academically, which is what the office of the Dean of the College is focused on. There was a concern that students who were still using or in early recovery might not be successful academically, so linking academic advising with chemical dependency support was intrinsic to the thinking of this position.”

Mandel had nothing but praise for O’Neill, describing her as “wonderful” and looking ahead at the work she will be doing said, “she’ll do this in her own way…and I am very supportive of that.”

O’Neill has big plans to support students in recovery going forward, in addition to what has already been done. “Historically, Brown has had a once a week, hour-long group meeting of students in recovery who are committed to abstinence from substance use. I would like to expand that to include monthly outings, social events and workshops with guest speakers, as well as provide a bi-weekly group session with a counselor. I also hope to secure a residence on campus with a lounge for meetings and hanging out. My role has been to provide academic and social support support and, help navigate the institution. I think we can build a more robust program, especially if we look at what’s been happening in the field of collegiate recovery in the last ten years.”

The struggle of an addict or alcoholic is not one everyone can understand, but it is not an uncommon affliction. The necessity of this position and the impact it has on recovering students and staff was deeply underscored by Deans Mandel and O’Neill. Having an individual always there to help a student in crisis is essential to a university campus.