By Graeme Smith
Let’s be perfectly clear: this is not about basketball. You can read about why the Rams lost to Western elsewhere in this section.
No, this is about representing your school by getting piss drunk, screaming a lot, banging things and taunting cheerleaders. And most importantly, doing it louder than the other guys.
It began — as these things usually do — with alcohol.
Most Ryerson fans bought tickets to the game at the RAC — the athletics department had arranged for two buses. Behind the RAC desk, a helpful attendant advised students with a wink that “any beverages at all” could be imbibed along the way. Myself, I emptied half the tonic water from a two-litre bottle and poured in a mickey of gin. The other fans didn’t drink Kool-Aid either, judging from the sweaty horde that poured into Western’s Alumni Hall that Saturday.
Covered in face paint, banging pots and waving banners, the Ryerson fans made spectators from Western seem demure by comparison. But then, a Western fan could make Pee Wee Herman look like a cave bear. Could you please pass the grey poupon? They clapped like rich golfers. Uh, wait. Many of them were rich golfers.
The Western fans didn’t need to make noise, though — they had a marching band and cheerleaders to do the dirty work. The cheerleaders were kind of scary, because they were so perfect. They looked so clean that they’d probably die if they tried to breathe Toronto air. No match for the Ryerson hooligans, the cheerleaders got a bit frustrated when their cute little cheers were drowned out by our wild pot-banging and screaming. One of the preppy boy-next-door cheering squad guys actually told us to “screw off.” Which bruised my virgin ears, let me tell you. I sure hope their delicate feelings weren’t hurt when three Ryerson engineers mimicked their pyramid formations and made “suck it” gestures.
Western engineering students fought back by raising a sign on the gym wall that said, “Ryerson = DeVry” and sitting around to protect it. For a minute, us Ryerson fans weighed our chances of surviving the inevitable gang war that would result form attempting to take it down. But we were saved by Linda Grayson, Ryerson’s v.p. administration. She stomped up the bleachers, past the engineers and literally ripped the sign to shreds. It was a proud moment, though it made me wonder why the 6-foot tall president of the school — also in attendance — didn’t go instead.
In the end, of course, we got killed on the basketball court. (With many Rams players sick, maybe we at least infected the Western team with enough flu bugs to keep them bedridden through the finals in Halifax.) But who got more cheers in the closing ceremonies? Which team got a thunderous standing ovation from its devoted fans?
Yup. The Rams. We’re still damn proud of them.