Traditions New and Traditions Old: The Battle of the Bridge and Mr. Canisius

The Canisius-Niagara game, if you haven’t noticed from this issue or from C-Block’s emails (or from just breathing Canisius air), is a big deal. It’s a long standing tradition to hate on everything purple that has ever existed during this week, and it’s a long standing tradition to hate Niagara and everything for which it stands. This game–this rivalry–dates back to 1904, according to Canisius’ records, though Niagara’s don’t begin until the 1905-1906 season. This puts us at over 100 years of history with Niagara, making us, according to a 2014 article by former Griffin editor Nick Veronica in The Buffalo News, “Western New York’s oldest and best college basketball rivalry.” Think about that–over one hundred years. That’s older than Old Main.

We have a lot of traditions here at Canisius. This paper has talked about many, if not all, of them, and it really is part of our campus culture. There are some for whom last night’s game was their first venture into the Canal Cup, and there are some for whom it will have been their last, at least for now. As a campus, we’re supportive of our athletics, but our school spirit doesn’t always show through. Attendance at athletic events has been down this year, as it has been at most every event being held. Granted, this is somewhat because of an institutional epidemic of overlapping events and trying to squeeze so much into such a small span of time.

This year’s game was many things. It was close, at the end. It was loud. It was proud. It was full of Griff pride. It was also a victory on both the men’s and women’s fronts, which is incredible in and of itself. It’s something to be lauded, to be remembered, especially by the seniors. What a note to go out on as far as athletics go. Furthermore, Donate Life’s UNYTS Battle of the Bridge blood drive led us to victory in donations over Niagara. This is huge, given that NU’s faculty members often give their students extra credit for participating, which our professors will not do (giving benefits for donating blood is an issue of contention–there’s something about blood money (or blood grades, in this case) to be said here). The fact that club involvement led us to victory off the court is a testament to its perseverance, and it’s wonderful act of service to others as well, lest we forget amidst the Western New York rivalry. Let’s go Griffs.

Further, this week has been momentous in terms of Mr. Canisius as well. For those of you who didn’t read the Residence Hall Association’s email on Monday, the contestants include Jacob Ducoli, Michael Haar, Andrew Scibilia, Lee Locklear, Conor Shea, Rashawnn Pope, and…Paula Uruburok, the first female contender in the traditionally all-male beauty pageant. This is something that has been talked about for years. What if a woman wanted to throw her hat into the ring? Lo and behold, Uruburok’s hat was selected from the many applications to join the fray. It’s a statement of a move towards being more progressive, and it’s nice to finally see women being included. Canisius may not always be on top of inclusion, but it’s showing marked improvement. This is a step on the side of tradition, and it’s great to see traditions being forged anew.

Together, these two traditions form an interesting paradigm. We have over a century of battling Niagara. Conversely, we’re entering our first year in which a woman takes part in RHA’s annual beauty pageant. Hopefully, such a tradition will last just as long. Our institution is moving in a progressive direction. This paper has sought to document it as it changes. We’re looking for more diversity. We’re looking for more inclusion. We’re looking for more advancements made on our campus. They’re happening, to an extent. It’s slow, and it’s slower than it necessarily needs to be. It’s great to see student organizations like RHA making strides forward with this, to see the push coming from students and funded by student tax dollars.

This paper has always said that Canisius is full of tradition, and the Canisius-Niagara game is perhaps the most prevalent of our traditions. We’d love to see just as much support at the women’s game as at the men’s. Nevertheless, the game is a center around which much of our culture rotates, at least in the realm of tradition. Now, RHA is making strides with its most popular event. Let’s build on this momentum, folks. The Battle of the Bridge is just the beginning.

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