Reflection on football: Why NARPs should support Eph sports

Victoria Michalska

Here’s to Williams’ first football victory this season against Tufts, 44-8. I’m from New York City (and rather aggressively so), and to be honest, this was the first time I ever sat through an entire football game. Even coming to Williams and seeing these football types around during the fall of my first year, I was shocked. In my inner city high school, I was incredibly accustomed to the stereotypical, scrawny nerd type, but the Williams football team is remarkably different from that. They are athletes, after all. The College has 32 varsity teams, some of which I wasn’t aware existed until I looked it up. Of the entire student population, approximately 40 percent of the student body is on one of these teams, and on a campus of 2,000 students, the separation between regular students and student-athletes can easily become jarring because of this high proportion. I don’t think it’s necessary, though. As part of the Williams community, it’s fun to join on the thrill of college sports. 

I’m a NARP. I mean, we even have a word for non-athletes on campus, and it stands for Non Athletic Regular Person. I’m not sure if it’s derogatory or not, but it’s an accurate label for a group of the population on campus, to which I happen to belong. I have a lot of friends on sports teams, and they’re fantastic. Their dedication to their sports never fails to impress me, but honestly, I could never relate. It just always seemed exhausting, really, and I didn’t even understand the appeal of the competition of it all. I loved my academics literally because I didn’t have to feel the pressure of that competition. 

Watching football always seemed vaguely fun. Initially, I just enjoyed seeing men run around and at each other, but after a quick Google search to look up the rules of the game, I decided that I should go to one, just to see what it’s like. It’s such a huge part of Americana; I might as well. Turns out, there is strategy and technique to the sport, like in most activities, and it merely took a little bit of observation and analysis to see it. 

After understanding what was going on, it actually became fun to cheer on Williams as we absolutely slaughtered Tufts. I’m part of Williams: Every student is, and I knew some of the players on the field, keeping my phone open to keep an eye on the roster so that I knew who was playing. Frank Stola, #3 on the football team, apparently broke some Williams records by gaining  233 receiving yards and then scoring four touchdowns over the duration of the single game. It was fun to watch the success of individual athletes and our team overall, and honestly, I couldn’t begin to imagine the satisfaction that one would experience managing to score like that in such a short amount of time. 

By the end of the first half, Williams was winning by such a margin that quite a few people on the bleachers got up and left. However, I was there partially as an anthropological study, wandering into an unknown territory. I decided to stay for the entire duration of the game, even though it was unbelievably unlikely that Tufts could bounce back after such a poor performance during the first two quarters.  

Most of the people left were alumni who were part of the Williams classes of 1969, 1970, 1972 and 1973, considering the mini-reunion going on that weekend, and I loved the aged familiarity that they all carried with one another. I met an older woman from the Berkshires named Carol whose husband graduated from Williams in 1955. I learned a lot from her, as she told me about her experience with Williams, Eph sports and the Berkshires. 

Under the bleachers, the women’s basketball team was selling food and drinks. By the third quarter of the game, I was admittedly hungry. And I don’t usually eat hot dogs, but when in Rome, do as the Romans. I had a hot dog, and found myself truly kicking back on that gorgeous Saturday afternoon, enjoying the Williams victory and the company of a woman who, like me, just couldn’t seem to find a better way to spend her time. 

Watching the game was an emotional rollercoaster that fantastically provided me with the entertainment I usually find from television and books, and I loved having the opportunity to feel like I was truly part of the Williams community. It’s fun to go to the games, and to really enjoy the friendly competition of it all. Go outside, y’all. Support your fellow Ephs, because it’s actually fun. Trust me; I went. 

Victoria Michalska ’22 is from  Maspeth, N.Y.