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Davis, California

Monday, June 24, 2024

The UCD Files: Not a sports school?

marxheadshot_opThe second installment of real world horror stories involves one of the main issues I have with UC Davis. For all of the good things this school is, it is fundamentally flawed in that it is not a sports school. All of us have at least one friend at a school in the south or the east coast, or frankly anywhere with a great sports program. UC Davis is one of the only schools with 30,000 undergraduates that has no solid program to boast about. We are in Division 1, but in the Big West: for those who don’t know, it’s the division for schools like us. It’s for schools that have all of the ingredients for a sports school, minus the sports.

Having big-time sports at the school you attend is a very important thing. It changes the dynamic of the school, the people at it and your time as a whole. First of all, school spirit is a much bigger deal when there’s something to cheer about. We typically don’t do well in sports games and seasons, and we don’t have big facilities like other schools. Many schools in the country have football stadiums that are bigger than NFL stadiums. The UC Davis stadium is similar in size and design to what I imagine a Texas Middle School football stadium is (they love that sport).

For me in my almost four years at Davis, and I’m sure other people before me as well, this has truly been upsetting. I wanted so badly to be at a school where everyone went to every game. I wanted to be at a school where the basketball team would refuse to do an exchange with my fraternity because they’re way cooler than us (they accepted, and it was awesome, but that’s not the point).

The title of this article is finally being threatened this year, however. Our school was put on ESPN twice for basketball this quarter (you can leave out the U in ESPNU when you tell your friends and family). They weren’t planning to feature the Aggies (sick mascot) on TV a second time until they saw us the first time. On Jan. 10, UC Davis dropped Long Beach State in an ESPN overtime thriller, an instant classic in the UC Davis equivalent of the Super Bowl. I had just arrived back into Davis after a family dinner and was watching the game on TV. It was in overtime, and I knew a bunch of my friends were at the game. Davis pulled off the victory, and when time ran out they rushed the court, changing it from something I didn’t care at all about to one of my biggest regrets in college.

Fast forward to this past weekend, the game was last-minute added to ESPNU because of the previous ESPN game’s excitement and the court rushing. To not deal with the regret and personal defeat from missing the victory, I made sure to go to this one. My friends came up for the weekend and we went all out for the game. Having gone to the ESPN games in the two previous years, I knew how fun they were, and I knew I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to rush court. The Aggies didn’t look too good in the first half, seeming like a sure-loss. We, as a group, made the executive decision to go home and relax and eat.

Now fast forward to finally being home. I receive a text telling me I shouldn’t have left. I realized I could find out why because my team is on National Television. Sure enough they were staging a comeback. As the game became close and the clock wound down, I found myself rooting intensely for Cal Poly. This had nothing to do with a lack of school spirit (though this is not a sports school, which makes it tough). This had everything to do with a sure-loss becoming full-fledged deja vu for me missing out on being a part of an extremely rare epic college sports experience. Sure enough, after forcing overtime, Cal Poly missed a last-minute free throw because of our very dedicated fans distracting opposing players night in and night out (one game a year, really). After that, I knew in my heart they had won and I had again made one of the biggest mistakes of my college years. All I had left was to pray the court wouldn’t be rushed, but it had to be that way, and I had to watch from the discomfort of my own home, watching some of my best friends partake on live TV.


UC Davis students rush the court after an overtime victory Saturday

It’s not all bad, though. There’s something amazing about seeing your friends on TV. I’m talking of course about people in the stands, but a couple of the players too. One time, the players came into a room I was in at a party, and allegedly liked a song my friend was playing. There is no solid proof they truthfully liked the song, but they spoke words to us and then made it on ESPN.  Aside from that, I’ve seen some of the players at Taco Bell late at night, and I’ve asked them to teach me moves to improve my basketball game. They always refuse, but once again, having celebrities speak to me is enough of a confidence boost.

The underlying problem is that I shouldn’t need to feel like I’m missing out when my team is on TV, or when people rush the court. This should happen much more often than once or twice a year, and I should be able to take a family day one weekend and a body paint day the next. We don’t have this luxury, and we are still new to winning games at all.

At the end of the day, these glimpses of big school life are some of the most memorable moments in college. These victories rival the essay due date extensions, the Santa Fe Chicken Salad days at the DC, the not-too-long-ago CoHo lines, the bike lock that works the first time and bringing a ball to the rec pool. Let’s hope this upward trend continues and we can get more and more of this air time. More air time means a better reputation, a better reputation means high school phenoms will consider us. High school phenoms coming here means we’ll win games. Winning games is the recipe to being a sports school and the recipe for an epic weekend. Epic Weekends are the recipe for a memorable college career.

The UCD Files is your weekly in depth look at our campus and the lifestyle that comes with it, featuring an occasional dropping of knowledge from a senior who has experienced it all.

Feel Free to send questions, comments, hate mail, or anything you would like to see in future articles to Adam Marx at almarx@ucdavis.edu.

Graphic by CA Aggie Graphic Design Team

Photos by CA Aggie Photo Team



  1. Thank you for this deeply insightful perspective. So why didn’t you go to one of those other schools instead? How about Penn State? No, really?


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