Brady: Finding Solace Through Sports

IMG_0830[5261]Over the last five months, almost every conversation I’ve had has tied back to the word “pandemic.” I’m sure I’m not alone in getting a little tired of talking about COVID-19, so while I am certainly continuing to follow all guidelines and live as safely as possible amidst a global pandemic, it is nice to have something that serves has a small but sufficient distraction from the unfortunate realities that we face. For me, that source of comfort has been the return of sports.

NASCAR and the PGA led the way back to competition in May and June, thanks to their naturally socially distant sports, and the more dominant American sports leagues have followed suit in the last few weeks. The MLS is concluding its “MLS is Back” tournament, held in an isolated community for MLS personnel only in Orlando. The NHL and NBA have each created similar “bubbles,” with hockey shifting to a new playoff format in Toronto and Edmonton and basketball relocating the conclusion of its regular season and playoffs to Orlando. The MLB worked out a shortened regional schedule to keep teams in their home ballparks with significant protocols in place, and that plan is yielding mixed results in the early stages of the season. The NFL is ramping up its preseason activities, hoping for a fairly unaffected regular season slate of games starting in September.

The NHL and NBA are the furthest into their 2020 campaigns, looking to conclude seasons that began last October. Several teams have already been eliminated from contention either through qualifiers or regular season results, so if you need a new team to root for, Boston has you covered.

The Celtics are in line to enter the playoffs as the third seed in the Eastern Conference, poised to make a push for the NBA title when their first postseason series tips off next week. The Bruins have been slow out of the gates since the restart but their regular season success meant they could land no lower than the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, which is where they will be when the first round begins on Tuesday, taking on the young and talented Carolina Hurricanes.

The Red Sox don’t have quite the same championships aspirations as the B’s and C’s, but they’ve had a few encouraging signs over the last few days. Roughly a quarter of the way through their 60-game season, the Sox have experienced the range of inconsistent arms and slumping bats, but a few breakout players and big wins over divisional opponents last week have helped the team stay within contention for a playoff spot.

The Patriots aren’t in competitive action yet and won’t be until the regular season begins (fingers crossed) on September 13. However, there have been sightings of football in Foxborough with players gathering for an adapted training camp. The Revolution will also be back at Gillette Stadium soon after bowing out of the “MLS is Back” tournament in the Round of 16, looking ahead to an altered MLS regular season later this month.

There are undoubtedly far more important things than sports these days, but it has been nice to have something feel somewhat normal in a time where nothing else seems familiar. Whether it’s turning on a prime-time game after dinner or following along with some afternoon action, sports give us a reason to get excited and forget about what may be stressing us beyond the game. Sports are an outlet, a means of entertainment, and a mental vacation, and I think we could all use some of that these days.

Brady: BU’s secondary winter sport you need to follow

Screen Shot 2020-02-27 at 3.11.32 PM

There’s no doubt about the sports hierarchy at Boston University. Hockey reigns supreme, with the five-time national champion men’s team bringing thousands of fans to Agganis Arena on weekends throughout the winter and the women’s team consistently ranking among the top ten teams in the country.

Amidst the popularity of the school’s hockey teams, the Boston University men’s and women’s basketball teams have taken an undeserved back seat among BU’s winter sports. Nearing the end of their 2019-20 regular seasons, both squads currently sit among the top three teams in their respective Patriot League divisions.

The major differentiating factor BU hockey holds over BU basketball is its history, which leads to its superior attendance and increased interest. Will BU basketball ever make as much national noise as BU hockey has? Probably not. However, the more humble background brings more reasonable expectations, and that’s where BU basketball becomes appealing.

The Terriers will never be expected to go to the Final Four on the court the same way they’re asked to reach the Frozen Four on the ice. The bar is lower for BU basketball, but that means their goals are more attainable. Winning a Patriot League basketball championship would huge for the Terriers, and this season, that result could be a legitimate possibility.

BU’s basketball teams don’t carry the most prominent reputations or the most lofty expectations, but they’re as easy to root for as it gets. They have heart, they’re underdogs, and they’re fun teams to watch regardless of the outcome. In fact, more than half of BU’s 61 basketball games thus far this season have been decided by less than ten points, with BU victorious in 17 of those 31 games.

Both teams feature an effective mix of bruising power forwards, sharpshooting wings and crafty ball-handlers, ranging from potent youngsters to veteran leaders. They’re both poised to make a run in the Patriot League this postseason, so if you’re looking for an entertaining event and a high-quality product, get down to the hardwood.

BU basketball is making a playoff push, so get on board.

Brady: Podcasts, the Newest Old-Fashioned Technology

I was on the phone with my grandmother when I had quite the realization.

In a media-crazed culture that seems to become more technologically complex by the day, there are ways in which we’re not developing at all.

In fact, in certain areas, we’re going backwards.

My grandmother was asking what I had been up to earlier in the day, and I responded by saying I had recorded a podcast with a friend. She wasn’t familiar with the term “podcast”, so I had to explain it to her. In my explanation, I tried to find a certain connection between podcasts and something she would understand. Rather casually, I said it was like listening to the radio, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized just how interesting this comparison was.

When my grandmother was a child, she would switch on her radio and tune into her favorite style of music or the daily baseball game. That was her way to be entertained; experiencing media aurally. Later on in her life, entertainment moved to television, adding a visual element to the experience of the audience. In more recent years, “4D” movies have been created that implement a physical stimulus, and virtual reality has transported viewers into the content.

Over the years, media has become more and more immersive. But yet, podcasting is bursting onto the scene as one of the fastest-growing forms of entertainment. Why is that? In a world with more technology than we know what to do with, why are we so fascinated by the source that relies on the least amount of stimuli?

Why is podcasting suddenly so popular?

Quite simply, our culture is built in a way that allows podcasts to thrive. We live in a multi-tasking society, where hustling and bustling is the norm, and no one has time to slow down. We no longer prioritize live content or the latest releases: if we’re going to consume media, we’re going to do it on our own time.

Enter podcasts, the form of media that can be consumed in conjunction with the completion of other activities. Doing homework? You can listen to a podcast. Going for a run? You can listen to a podcast. Taking a shower? You can listen to a podcast. With this style of entertainment, you don’t need to allocate time to experiencing it. You can fit it in with your jam-packed life, and still get your fix of comedy, sports, politics, or whatever content you may be interested in.

Don’t get me wrong, “total immersion” media has its place. These forms of entertainment are most successful when their audience is willing to devote their entire focus for a certain amount of time to that specific show, movie, or whatever the content may be. However, that’s becoming more and more rare by the day. Our society isn’t as interested in putting this kind of time and attention into one thing alone, and podcasting is emerging as an attractive alternative.

In 2019, we are listening to our media just as our predecessors did nearly 100 years ago. Podcasts are taking us back in time, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s what we want. It’s what we need.

Podcasts are putting us in the past, and that’s ok.

Brady: Visit The Fenway Campus, You Won’t Be Disappointed

I’m just going to come out and say it.

The Fenway Campus deserves your respect, your attention, and your love.

It’s easy to forget about the new Fenway Campus, the former home of Wheelock College. Comprised of just a handful of street blocks along the Riverway, this previously private institution features classroom buildings, a library, a dining hall, a student theater, a variety of housing options for on-campus residents, and more. This was not some extension built to fill the needs of the larger Boston University: this was a fully developed college that thrived for decades before merging with BU.

Alright, so at least now you know the Fenway Campus exists. But what makes it worth your visit?

For starters, the recently-built Campus Center and Student Residences, simply abbreviated as CCSR, offers a complete dining hall, preparing a wide selection of meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The physical size and number of food options of this dining hall may be inferior to that of its Charles River Campus counterparts, but I prefer to see it as a matter of quality versus quantity. The CCSR dining hall serves significantly fewer students on average than the Warren Towers Dining Hall, Marciano Commons, and the West Campus Dining Hall. Therefore, the staff can devote more time to maintaining the quality of their meals and tailoring their cuisine to the individual who will be consuming it. Not only that, but the decreased demand means that food lines are shorter, tables are always available, and the overall dining experience is much more relaxed. Oh, and they have lemonade, frozen yogurt, and the good fries. You know what I mean.

Away from its dining hall, the Fenway Campus presents a plethora of quiet study spaces, including the Earl Center for Learning and Innovation, another modern building with comfortable seating, a third-floor outdoor terrace, and few regular occupants. The Wheelock Family Theatre presents several series of shows throughout the year, and is capable of holding a larger audience than the popular Tsai Auditorium on BU’s Central Campus. There are also multiple green spaces available where students can get away from the speed and sound of city living and spend some time sitting in the fields before leaves and snow come to make the grass disappear.

Students often blame their ignorance of this additional campus on the distance it sits from the Charles River Campus. However, let’s try to put this walk into perspective.

From Marsh Chapel, which is commonly regarded as the geographical center of Boston University, a southbound walk across the St. Mary’s Street bridge, through the BU’s South Campus, and down Park Drive to the Fenway Campus will take the average student 15 minutes. A 15-minute trek headed west from the same starting location will see students only get as far as Agganis Arena, which is still well short of the residences and athletic facilities that Central Campus dwellers regularly frequent without a second thought. So, does that 15-minute walk to the Fenway Campus still seem so intimidating?

As a former Warren Towers resident now living in the aforementioned CCSR, I understand the feeling that everything a student could possible need is on the Charles River Campus. However, the BU Bubble is real, and it will not take long for students to start feeling that this fall. So, when you need to get away from the familiar confines of Commonwealth Avenue, always keep in mind that your new friend, the Fenway Campus, will welcome you with open arms.

Brady: Studying in the City of Champions: Why college students must experience Boston sports

On Sunday, February 3rd, the New England Patriots won their sixth Super Bowl in the last 18 years, ending a 98-day drought since Boston last won a championship – just over three months ago, the Boston Red Sox were victorious in their fourth World Series of the 21st century.

Both championship titles sent students across the city into a wild state of euphoria, celebrating online and in the streets. But these aren’t students who have been Boston sports fans all their lives. These are students from all over the country, and for that matter, all over the world. So why are these fans all so consumed with a championship for a city they aren’t even from?

The answer to this question is actually quite straightforward. Simply put, when you study in Boston, you become a Boston sports fan. That is, if you let yourself become one.

Of course, there are the diehard fans from rival cities that will never be converted. But for most students, the interest in Boston sports is infectious. Once a student gets a taste for the perfect mix of history, passion, and success that makes this city’s sports scene so special, they can’t help but become a part of it.

Boston sports attract supporters from the full range of interests and experiences. There are the baseball buffs who have waited their entire lives to visit Fenway Park. There are the first-time fans just following the recommendations of others. Whether you are a seasoned sports veteran who has never had any interest in athletics, Boston sports have something for everyone.

I don’t have much convincing to do for the current sports enthusiasts out there, but for you newcomers out there, I understand your concerns. It’s hard to sit through a four-hour baseball game, or try to comprehend a sport you’ve never witnessed before. As strange as it may sound, throw yourself into the fire. Experience it once, and give it a chance to draw you in.

But let’s say you really can’t bring yourself to watch a game. Well, you’re lucky, because Boston sports extend beyond the stadium. If you so much as stroll around Fenway Park, for example, you will see the fans, smell the concessions, and sense the spirit of a game day at the ballpark. Just by being in the area, you will be a participant in the Boston sports scene.

You could be studying anywhere in the world, but you ended up here in Boston, arguably the greatest sports city in the world. Not only that, but you are also here at exactly the perfect time. The teams are championship-caliber, the city is buzzing after two titles, and the venues are just a walk or train ride away from your campus.

One cannot truly experience of this city without getting involved in its sports scene, so regardless of your previous interests or expectations, get out there and embrace the unparalleled excitement and excellence of Boston sports!