EI: “So basically, on the club soccer team, we have a tradition: when the seniors graduate, we have a “senior practice.” Basically, before we go to the field, we go to someone’s house or apartment and get really drunk, really trashed, and then we go to the field and then just mess around on the field. We play like, small side games. It’s basically the last hurrah in sending them off into life after college. We do it every year for the graduating seniors.”
CONTEXT: EI is a freshman at USC studying business who doesn’t drink. She’s been playing soccer since high school, and she made varsity club soccer in her first year at USC: this is her first year learning about the senior practice tradition.
ANALYSIS: EI hasn’t yet participated in this tradition. She’s learning this as a freshman, and because she doesn’t drink, so she can’t fully participate in the tradition and express her identity as a member of the club team. As for the seniors, the senior practice being one “last hurrah” is necessary from a psychological standpoint: the end of college soccer is genuinely the end of an era. The club soccer team is not professional—this is likely one of the last times that these students will play soccer in this capacity. For that matter, this is the end of their athletic prime in terms of biology. Any league that graduated students participate in from this point forward will take much more effort to play with the same consistency and the same high energy. The senior practice helps provide a bookend, officially marking the beginning of this new era. Even the consumption of alcohol helps solidify their new place as adults. Even though many students illegally drink in college, seniors are finally of age, making the fact that their drinking is legal a mark of seniority.