I often reference that I approach things from a fairly unique experience when it comes to being a BC alum. I am both a graduate of Boston College and a lifelong resident of the city of Boston. I am definitely not the only one who fits this description, but I think it’s safe to say we are in a shrinking minority (a far cry from the “they would have accepted a fire hydrant if it would pay the tuition” days that Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory fantasizes about.)
This presented an interesting dichotomy while I was a BC student, especially given my career choice of politics. Depending on who I was talking to and the content of our discussion, I had to make the decision of which hat to wear. Am I the Boston College student? The young, idealist who was convinced some of Boston’s old guard stood in the way of making her a true world class city for the 21st Century. Or am I the 3rd generation Bostonian? One who would defend my city, her virtues and her flaws, through thick and thin from this day until my last.
It seemed that in most areas of civic engagement, these two hats became more of a contradiction than a complement. But there are a few – albeit important – issues that my background can offer some perspective on. The Beanpot is one of those situations.
I think it’s safe to say that the average BC student doesn’t know a whole lot about BC’s hockey team. They know they’re good, they probably know who Johnny Gaudreau is and they know you go to the Beanpot and you chant “safety school” at Northeastern and Harvard, and “sucks to B U” at Boston University. But compared to basketball and football, hockey is a much more regional sport and less people care about the outcome. For example, we have the best hockey team in the nation. Can you imagine if our football or basketball team were the best in the nation? It is all anyone would talk about on campus and around Boston, every day.
My point, however, is not to diminish the Beanpot’s importance but rather to enhance it. Last week, Ryan Lambert from College Hockey News wrote a rather trolly article that recycled the same old boring adage of “no one cares about the Beanpot unless you go to one of the four schools.” Now, John Buccigross he is not, but this sentiment is not a new one. Even the Lord of the Internet, El Pres from Barstool Sports proclaimed his indifference for the tournament last year.
But from a former student, a Boston resident and a hockey fan, I’m here to tell you different: the Beanpot matters.
It matters to the students for the most obvious of reasons: we at Boston College love our school, love our campus, love our way of life and tend to have a bit of a reputation of letting other people know it. Anytime we get to beat someone from Harvard, BU or NU in “Words With Friends” we consider the day a victory. So even when our teams aren’t ranked number 1 in the country, we still show up and scream our heads off; because no matter how good our basketball or football team might be, these might be the most important games on the entire athletic schedule. Well, unless you’re BU.
But it also matters to the city. It’s one of those things that makes us uniquely Boston. A tournament that once a year reminds you to message your Uncle Murph or your Cousin Sully who roots for one of the other 3 just to let them know that their team sucks and you’ll see them at Easter. It’s an event similar to a Red Sox game at Fenway or lining up on Comm. Ave on Patriots Day to watch the runners recover from Heartbreak Hill: it’s something your grandparents did and it’s something your grandkids will do. It connects generations and reminds you of where you came from. Sure, every town and city has pride in its history and traditions, but it does not shape their identity like it does for Boston. Like most of our old institutions, the internet and 1000 channel cable TV has diluted our need for an association with our past or even real-life connections and human interactions. But the Beanpot still matters to Boston and helps shape our identity whether the stands are packed for the 5PM game or not.
What Mr. Lambert of College Hockey News fails to notice is that the rest of the hockey world should care about this tournament because the winner of it usually has something to say about that “other” tournament they will play in April. BC is on a tear, having not lost a game since November 29th and sporting the best line in college hockey with Bill Arnold, Kevin Hayes and Hobey Baker favorite Gaudreau. Each of BC’s last 4 National Championship teams all started to feel a little bit more special than usual after their respective Beanpot victories. BU’s last title season in ’09 was sparked by an epic showdown against then #2 Northeastern in one of the most anticipated games of the season. If BC raises another national championship banner after the season, I think the rest of the hockey world will want to ignore the Beanpot at their own peril. (Plus, John Buccigross totally tweeted about it).
So yeah, I think this tournament is a little different than sweeping Merrimack every year. I took great pride in sending a snarky text to my friends from Northeastern this morning, and I will take even greater pride in toasting a nice cold beer with my Dad in about 15 or so years when BC passes BU for most Beanpot titles in history. I’m guessing we won’t be the only ones.