The thought of a typical Sunday night at Grinnell College evokes many images: frantically writing papers, a crowded Burling Library and a wish to return to the simpler days of Saturday afternoon. During the fall semester, however, another scene comes to mind: groups of dedicated football fans congregated on the east side of the Grill, eyes fixed in wonder on the TV screen, cheering and crying at the ups and downs of the game.
This sometimes light, sometimes tense scene is not exclusive to football and the Grill, as watching sports at Grinnell is a veritable art and institution, inclusive of many sports and venues.
David Leitson ’16, a devout Chicago Cubs fan, does not like watching his team in the Grill, as he can’t deal with being around fans of the opposing team.
“I can’t be around people who don’t like the same team. That just really makes me angry. That’s the problem with watching in the Grill, because people then just come by and mess with you,” Leitson said.
Leitson prefers watching the Cubs and other Chicago sports teams in the Audio-Visual Center where he can be alone with his emotions.
“That’s a good place to watch sports because you have that whole lounge,” he said. “I did it with some [Chicago] Bulls and [Cleveland] Cavs games this year.”
Joey Saenz ’16, a Manchester City fan, views watching sports on campus as a social affair.
“There’s a Grinnell Soccer Fan Club. Hameed Weaver [’17] runs it, so he’ll pick a lounge, and send out a mass email and we’ll meet up to watch the games,” Saenz said. “One of the challenges of watching sports at Grinnell is that since Grinnellians come from many parts of the country and [the] world, there may be fans of opposing teams around.”
Riley Drexler ’17, a Green Bay Packers fan, usually begins watching games in the common area of his Cowles apartment but if the game gets too heated and there are non-Packers fans in the vicinity, he will retire to his room to watch the game in privacy.
“I’ll just go in my room and watch it. I would rather watch with a group of [Packers] fans, because they’re usually thinking the same thing as you,” Drexler said.
The largest sports viewing event of the year is dinner in the Dining Hall on Super Bowl Sunday, with lines beginning long before kickoff in anticipation of both the game and the chicken wings. Drexler, however, has reservations about watching the big game with a big crowd.
“I’d probably only stay for like a quarter, but I would definitely come to get the food,” he said.
Finding the right balance between watching the game intently and getting work done can sometimes be as challenging as the balance between being social and being a devoted fan.
“I tell myself I’m going to do it during halftime and then it never happens. If it’s a big enough game, it’s in my calendar,” Leitson said.
Saenz agreed that in the battle between sports and education, sports often win.
“March Madness was fun two years ago,” Leitson said. “We blew off a lot of homework to watch those games, [but] a lot of times it’s a combination of both. I’ll have my work with me and then when there’s breaks [I’ll do it], but at least [with soccer] it’s on weekends, so during downtime.”
John Leris, Spencer Grill Supervisor, offered a different perspective about watching the Super Bowl while working in the Grill.
“It was kind of depressing, actually. I wasn’t at a Super Bowl party, I was working,” Leris said.
For the biggest of games, however, watching at Grinnell won’t cut it for fans like Leitson.
“Game four [of the World Series] is on Halloween. I play soccer and that’s the last game of the season, so if [the Cubs] make the World Series, I’m going to play the last game and then drive home,” Leitson said.