This past Saturday was a beautiful February day, with the temperature peaking above freezing and the sun making an appearance above Onondaga field. It seemed just right for the first Geneseo Winter Olympics to all involved, so when the event ended three hours earlier than planned, participants were surprised.
The event was scheduled to start at 1 p.m. in the Onondaga bullpen, and proceed with capture the flag and football. But at 1:05 p.m., those who helped to set up the event were still waiting, knotted up in a patient game of Twister, another one of the events planned for the afternoon.
According to freshman Aaron Smith, coordinator of the event, the Student Association (SA) shot down some other dubious ideas. Hot chocolate chugging was declined, but freshman Jessica Wade, a volunteer at the event, conceded that consuming large quantities of hot dairy products could have negative consequences. A sledding competition was also forbidden, due to the liabilities of being in the road. Even the proposed snow- ball fight was shot down, despite the perfect packing snow on the ground outside.
Fifteen minutes into the event, the turnout was minimal. According to Smith, three to five teams signed up to compete, along with "several individuals who were going to participate but needed a team, which we said we would piece together there." A table full of prizes gleamed in one corner of the bullpen-a Razor scooter, DVDs, and a myriad of sports equipment. Smith formed a joking game plan: "By 1:30, if no one shows up take the pop and prizes and run," he said.
The coordinators for the event posted fliers, sent e-mails, and Smith petitioned at several dormitories' hall council meetings for members to recruit volunteers and participants. "I don't exactly know what went wrong. It was the perfect weather outside; we did plenty of advertising, and chose a time when nothing else was going on," Smith explained.
Around 1:30 p.m., the volunteers broke open a bag of chips and shifted the conversation from what went wrong with the day's event to what went wrong during past theater productions that they were involved in. A few minutes later, volunteers called it quits. The unused soda, chips, and prizes were stored for use in two future events. Smith saw the failed event as an opportunity to quickly organize another event without having to worry about the monetary aspects or having to ask for SA funding. As Smith put it, "…these [prizes] will defer the cost of two immediate programs we wished to seek funding for but now we won't have to, so nothing's being wasted or misused."
"If just one team had shown up, they would have just been able to walk away with all of the prizes," explained Smith. "I guess it must take something more than free prizes, food and games to get kids outside. Pretty sad."