The games are gone, but their impact is sure to linger. The 2006 Empire State Games concluded a successful four-day run yesterday, bringing 6,000 athletes, their families and other supporters to Rochester for this annual Olympics-style competition.
RIT was the venue for eight (if I’ve been counting correctly) different sporting events, and 2,600 of the athletes from across our state stayed in the RIT residence halls. The atmosphere here during the events was electric, and you can’t help but wonder what kind of impression the campus made on these young athletes (perspective RIT students) and their families. It’s a question the local media posed in its reporting, and the overall impression seemed quite favorable.
I’ve used this forum in the past to extol the underrated beauty of this campus, and I hope our visitors came away with some sense of that. My only concern was the condition of the Eastman Kodak Quad. Only three years after it was incredibly relandscaped and turned into one of the university’s most beautiful destinations, the area has been torn-up for what’s described as the “boiler interconnect project.” It now more closely resembles the limestone quarry near my boyhood home in LeRoy than the park-like paradise of just a few months ago. I can’t speak to the circumstances that warranted the unfortunate timing of the project, but I’m sure it’s safe to say there would never be a “good time” to have it completed. Still, I can’t help but reflect upon the opportunity missed. But let’s place this in perspective. There are many other resources on campus that I’m certain impressed our visitors.
One other reflection on the games, if you’ll permit me. I was pleased with the opportunity to serve as a volunteer at the soccer matches—basically assisting the scorekeeper. I am not a soccer fan, but I couldn’t help but be impressed with the skill and commitment of the young athletes who gave it their all on the field. I also thought they exhibited great sportsmanship. I’ve always believed that, in its purest form, sports offer a window into the triumph of the human spirit. Nothing I witnessed over the past many days has swayed me from that.
Let’s hope the Empire State Games make a return trip to Rochester one year very soon!