Rethinking the Carleton rivalry

Carleton College: the epitome of evil and everything wrong with college, lurks in the shadow of the Hill, exuding eeriness and lacking athleticism. St. Olaf College: the ideal academic institution, its students a harmonious blend of traditionalism and modern feng shui. This is the perspective I had on the timeless rivalry between Northfield’s finest establishments – but my expectations were utterly destroyed at this year’s Cereal Bowl.

As I watched our fellow Oles slowly wear down the feeble and daunted Carls on the gridiron, along with witnessing a monstrous St. Olaf running back toss Carleton players around as if they were no more than small children, I took the time to reflect on what the rivalry truly means to me and the student body as a whole. I came to the conclusion that nobody cares.

The football team won the game 34-27, but did the students win? I vaguely remember hearing the Carleton student section chanting ‘safety school,’ which not only made me feel truly worthless but also made me question my standing in the Northfield community. I’d like to say that as an Ole, I’m somehow better than a Carl, but their chanting and mocking was downright clever. Clever? Carleton students are supposed to be mindless machines with no desire other than getting into the finest graduate schools, not clever. Yet here they were at a sporting event, seemingly no different from my fellow Oles.

I wanted to be angry, I wanted to somehow make them feel worthless, and for a split second I was tempted to begin shouting the classic ‘God’s on our side’ chant, but I couldn’t bring myself to sink that low now that I felt this strange connection with our rivals. I no longer cared that they had mocked me and my closest friends just a few minutes before because I realized that the Cereal Bowl was not a rivalry but a celebration.

Yes, their school’s color scheme is enough to make even the most hardened of individuals vomit a little in their mouths, but isn’t there something beautiful about that? All I saw was a beautiful mesh of black, gold, navy blue, white and sewage-tinged yellow, coming together to partake in the American pastime of tossing the old pigskin.

The sheer fact that Carleton students showed up to a football game was utterly breathtaking. My ignorance led me to believe that the only sport recognized by Carls was ultimate frisbee, which according to my dearly beloved brother is not a sport but an activity for non-athletes and simpletons (I disagree). Yes, the Oles won the Goat Trophy again, but can’t we relish in the fact that St. Olaf and Carleton play a football game just for the sake of a trophy named after a goat?

I certainly don’t hate Carls, and after attending the Cereal Bowl, I think I have gained a new perspective on the so-called rivalry that our two schools share. I’ll even admit that I’ve eaten at Carleton before and enjoyed a truly delightful meal. I write this article in hopes that someday the two schools can come to appreciate each other’s presence and maybe Carleton’s football team will pick up the pace so future Cereal Bowls will be far more entertaining than those in the past.