The Daily Pennsylvanian elicited shrugs and modest agreement yesterday by suggesting that Penn Athletics axe The Line, the annual tradition of staying overnight at the Palestra in order to be the first to buy season tickets (and, historically, have first dibs on NCAA Tournament tickets).
Now that the Quakers have fallen from their lofty perch atop the Ivy League, The Line has failed to engender the same enthusiasm as in years past: last Friday, fifty students showed up for the festivities. In the wake of this diminishing interest, some would rather avoid the embarrassment of a poor turnout than continue the tradition.
The only real counter to this position is a tenuous appeal to Tradition. Deadspin writes, “You can’t call something a tradition if you shut it down when things are glum.” I agree, and so does Eamonn Brennan. In general, we care how long a tradition has been running because that reflects the level of commitment. If we’ve really reached the end of The Line, then Penn supporters have become just like any other fair-weather fan base. That shift is perhaps the final death knell of the Quakers’ Ivy League superiority.
So while Penn fans smugly assert that their return to the top is a matter of “when (not if),” Line-haters only hasten the Quakers’ demise by jumping off board a sinking tradition. Man up, fans. Suffer the embarrassment of a few lean years, then thump your chest when Penn climbs back to the top. Otherwise, when Quaker basketball does reclaim its former glory, that team will be part of a separate tradition, one entirely divorced from the days when Penn was truly in a league of its own.