How do you go from losing to winning? Columbia University's football team hasn't won in two years. Each week, we see what it takes to make a comeback. This isn'...
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Episode 11: Year One
In their 10-game season, the Lions have seen success with wins against Wagner and Yale — the team's first victories in years — but remained a team that lost far more than it won. Yet the Lions did learn to hold their own — at least sometimes — against some of the best teams in the Ivy League. So at the end of this season, Al Bagnoli's first as coach for the team, there's just one question left to ask: Was this the turnaround everyone was hoping for?
Episode 10: And The Band Plays On
The Lions define success by wins and losses. But members of the Columbia University Marching Band — who are sometimes the only Columbia students in the stands — couldn't care less how their team actually does. (At least, that's what they'd like you to think.)
Both groups are defined by the traditions and values they pass from class to class. And that means change can only really happen one year at a time. For the football team, the best hope at a turnaround may rest not in its current team, but in the high school seniors the school is trying to recruit.
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Episode 9: Moral Victory
The Columbia Lions are quick to tell you that they don't believe in "moral victories." In football, you either win or lose; there's no gray, in-between area. But it's not so simple in real life. Take the story of senior defensive lineman Chad Washington. In the spring of 2013, he was arrested and charged with a hate crime. Overnight, he became the poster child for what was wrong with football at Columbia. The charges were later dropped and since then, Washington's been working to rebuild his reputation. But turnarounds can take a long time.
Episode 8: 'The Worst Part About Our Sport'
Everybody knows football is a tough, violent sport. But the long-term consequences of playing — particularly as they relate to concussions — have only recently started to emerge. The game has gotten safer, but it still poses big risks for the young men who play it.
Football forever changed the life of Jack Kerouac, who played for the Columbia Lions in the early 1940s. It brought him to New York, where he met the likes of Allen Ginsburg and Neal Cassady and established himself as an early pioneer of the Beat movement. But, according to a New Yorker story by journalist Ian Scheffler, "Football and the Fall of Jack Kerouac," it also left him scarred — physically and perhaps even mentally.
Episode 7: Necessary Toughness
Hang around a football team long enough and you'll probably start hearing one phrase over and over again: mental toughness. Coaches, athletes, and fans alike say it's an intangible factor that separates good teams from great ones. And it turns out it's way harder to master than just about anything else in football. This week the Columbia Lions, still at the bottom of Ivy League rankings, traveled to New Hampshire to face the Dartmouth College team — their toughest opponent yet. So far this season, undefeated Dartmouth has won every game by at least three touchdowns, so the Lions will need to find that elusive mental toughness to avoid a total blowout.