If we examine the Art & Design schools in the North Eastern United States, options for participating in sports are sparse and sometimes nonexistent. However, Pratt Institute has various teams that compete at a Division III level, a strong feat for any art school. Considering the norm at Pratt is to not care about sports at all--since most students who attend this school are trying to escape the sports crazed traditions of their American high schools--it is amazing that we have an athletics department that continues to grow. However, what are the sports traditions being practiced here at Pratt?
Going to the basketball and volleyball games, the first thing you notice is the stands. While they are not empty, they consist usually of family and friends, meanwhile the opposing team will bring in a bigger crowd at our home games. Team spirit is still running on all cylinders, the players still practice the usual sport traditions, like their pre-game rituals and chants. My favorite tradition practiced by the Men’s Basketball team is when they get together for a pre-game dunk and charge the basket with a testosterone fueled camaraderie.
After doing some poking around, I was able to interview Ace Bibbs who was recruited for our men’s basketball team in May 2019. Ace is a 6-foot-tall guard who is nothing but smiles. When searching for schools, he became frustrated at the lack of intersection between athletics and the arts. “Some schools had great basketball teams but zero art. Some schools had all art but no sports at all, and I just can’t live … without sports or art.” He made the choice to study illustration at Pratt, where he could pursue his, “two dreams in one place,” calling it, “the perfect spot.”
While it may be disappointing that Pratt’s athletics do not have the same zealous following as more typical American universities, it is refreshing to enjoy the sport in its purest form without the cult-like toxicity that can exist within those institutions. Without the huge, rowdy crowds that larger universities bring in, the experience of attending a Pratt game is more intimate, which allows a connection to be built between the athletes and the spectators. “On the outside,” Ace remarks, “you would get the feeling that no one really cares, but when you like playing a sport and you look over in the stands, you see that you always have support.” Although the cheers from the bleachers aren’t always the loudest, “The athletes here definitely feel the love.”
Illustration by Cameron Schroeder