Stan Isaacs, Newsday, November 22, 1988
Columbia's Cozy Little Den

   A friend couldn't understand my 
priorities last weekend. How could I go to 
the Brown-Columbia  game Saturday when I 
could see the best, UCLA-USC or Nebraska-
Oklahoma, on television? 
   "If I want to see the best," I said, "I 
would watch Buffalo or the Chicago Bears or 
whichever flat-out professional teams were 
on the tube Sunday." For me, Brown-Columbia
was the Big Game because it was a battle to 
stay out of the Ivy League cellar - and 
because I have identifications with Columbia  
and Brown that I don't have with colleges 
more than 1,000 miles away. 
    I have an affection for Columbia because 
I covered its  football  team when I broke 
into this business. I have spoken on campus 
a few times, once attended a two-week 
workshop there, and for one game was a guest 
lengthopipe player in the band.  My tie to 
Brown is out of my pocketbook. My most-
learned daughter was a Brown undergraduate, 
and I enjoyed all my Parents' Weekend and 
Graduation Day visits there. 
   It is my fantasy to attend a Brown- 
Columbia season finale that is a battle for 
the Ivy League championship. Even my 
Columbia  friends say I won't live that 
long, but I persist, and make it to Baker 
Field every other year for the Brown 
invasion. This year's game I viewed as the 
flip side of a championship showdown. 
   The scene at Columbia football games is 
comradely, comfortable. It reminds me of 
days at Forest Hills for the national 
championships before tennis became a big 
corporate deal.  
   Forest Hills was a pleasant place, 
intimate, uncrowded. You could, as they 
say, smell the roses. It was a puzzle why, 
for a long time, crowds were so relatively 
small for such an attractive event. Now 
tennis at Flushing Meadow is such a hustle 
and crush, you might long for the comfort 
and leisure of the old days. 
   For a football game at Columbia's Baker 
Field complex, one can smell the cheeses 
and the pates as the old grads leisurely 
eat and socialize at their cars before 
ambling over to comfortable, new Wien 
Stadium to partake of the football fare. It 
is located at one of the most beautiful 
spots in New York, the point where the 
Harlem River flows into the Hudson River at 
Spuyten Duyvil, and the spectator can see 
the confluence of the rivers from seats 
high in the grandstand under the press box. 
   I have mixed feelings about what could 
be the beginning of a surge of Columbia 
football.  I would like to see that happen, 
yet I fear that Columbia as a winner would 
change the ambience, the leisure of 
afternoons spent at Baker Field. 
   On Saturday, alumnus Arthur Halpern of 
Millwood, N.Y., a Wall Street trader, 
approached a student who had extra tickets 
to the game and offered a cut-rate price 
for one of them.  The student refused the 
money and insisted that Halpern take the 
ticket for free. "I hope you are not a 
business major," Halpern said. 
   At  halftime, the Columbia band 
lampooned Brown and went into a formation 
that it called "an outline of the state of 
Rhode Island - actual size." As they did, a 
wag in the stands cried out, "That's New 
Jersey, you fools."  
    Columbia not only beat Brown, 31-13, 
but dominated the game, and many in the 
crowd of 5,565 basked in the heady feeling 
of an easy victory. People made jokes about 
juggernauts and "breaking up the Lions." 
   As spectators tarried afterward, in no 
hurry to join the bottleneck of traffic, 
the band  played and students danced and 
frolicked in front of the statue of the 
huge lion outside the stadium.  Band members 
raffishly sang parodies to "Roar, Lion, 
Roar," substituting the nicknames of Ivy 
rivals for Lions with rollicking college-
humor lyrics.
   Pro  football  owns New York. That won't 
change. But should Columbia ever become an 
Ivy League power, I submit that all the 
elements are there for Columbia football to 
become a status symbol. The snob appeal of 
the Ivy League, the setting and the winning 
would, I am sure, make Columbia  games an 
"in" thing. 
    Columbia games would be a hot ticket; 
the so-called beautiful people would 
discover the scene; a push-and-shove 
ambience would take hold, and the traffic
jams around the stadium would approach 
gridlock. 
   Certain oldtimers might then long for the 
good old days.