If you were one of the people running on a treadmill in the sports complex last Monday night during the Delta Sigma Phi vs. Alpha Tau Omega basketball game, you probably didn’t like what you saw.
The game was played and spectated with an intensity bordering on mania. Trash talk, physical play, and testosterone abounded on both sides.
Negative energy began to seep onto the court when the first several fouls were called against DSP. Their players and supporters started complaining about what they saw as one-sided officiating. ATO’s supporters yelled their approval of the calls and their team’s hot start, which did nothing to diffuse the tension.
Everything came to a head when an ATO player drove down the lane for a layup and ended up sprawled on the floor after a collision with a DSP defender. The two players then stood chest to chest and exchanged words for about ten seconds while the referees tried to restart the game. The game did restart, and the game did end. Both teams and their supporters moved on.
This game was a part of Greek Week, an Olympic-style competition of sorts where the Greek organizations compete for bragging rights. Some people believe Greek Week unnecessarily divides campus. For them, that game was a perfect example of what is wrong with Greek Week.
Less than an hour before the start of that fateful game, the same two fraternities competed against each other in Ping Pong. Steve Sartore represented Alpha Tau Omega and Matt Painter represented Delta Sigma Phi.
They had polar opposite playing styles. Sartore, the bigger and more muscled player, relied on a hard forehand to blast the ball past opponents. Painter, who has a slight build, preferred to play defense and return shots until his opponent made a mistake. The ATO supporters, 20 guys strong, stood or sat right next to the table while the DSP supporters sat in the bleachers and watched. During the first game, there was little to cheer about, and Sartore won handily.
Painter came out hot in the second game. He couldn’t miss the table and Sartore couldn’t hit it.
When he was leading 7 – 1, the DSP supporters began shouting their encouragement from the stands while the ATO supporters watched nervously. This continued for a few more nervous rallies.
Then Sartore got hot.
For the next few minutes, everyone in the gym got to see what happened when the unstoppable force met the immovable object.
Sartore started ripping forehands about as fast as the eye could track right at Painter, who calmly sat about 10 ft behind the table and returned every shot, no matter how hard it was hit. Every rally lasted for an eternity, as both players hit increasingly impressive shots, much to the delight of the crowd.
After one such rally, the two players stopped the game and shook hands before continuing. Both players acknowledged the skill of the other.
“He returned eight of the hardest shots I’ve ever hit,” Sartore said. “Eventually I missed the table and I had to tip my cap to the guy because it was such a fun point.”
“We each recognized the rarity and awesomeness of that point,” Painter said. “Although I ended up losing the match, I will never forget those incredible games and the sportsmanship which occurred.”
Special moments like these, only possible during Greek Week, are why it must be preserved.
Greek Week is a neutral institution. It is as positive or as negative as the participants make it. If the participants view it as life or death, it can cause fissions within a chapter and grow animosity towards the other organizations. If the participants view it as a series of good-natured contests, Greek Week can have a unifying effect on the greek community as a whole.
Sutton Dunwoodie is a sophomore studying political economy.