35. Bridge: The College Alumni Connection and the ACBL

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Given the history of bridge, the ACBL should be targeting the alumni associations of America to market bridge.  They are easily reachable, publish newsletters to their membership and a good writer could come up with topics to intrigue their readers ranging from campus history–nostalgia/Retro–to clearly promoting the game’s  return to campus. But–please–not just to competitive duplicate clubs! Bridge as part of dorm, sorority and fraternity life as it used to be.

Until the 70s college was where young people picked up bridge if they hadn’t already learned at home.  What happened?  The 60s happened. When they were over, the last thing students wanted to do was to emulate anything their parents did. Here’s Tom Buckley in the New York Times (1987) writing about the end of bridge on campus in  his article, “Making it in big time bridge.”

“On college campuses, where bridge is usually learned, emblems of bourgeois respectability were replaced [in the 60s] by an appetite for more immediately pleasurable pastimes–rock music, fast cars, and casual sex.”

“Bridge on campus ended with co-ed dorms” is the succinct assessment of one bridge writer I read recently–have lost the clipping–basically saying the same thing as Buckley.

I think it’s more complicated than that. Betty Friedan also happened. Vietnam protests happened. Campus life changed forever because bridge probably seemed to symbolize the un-serious attitudes of college kids of the 50s and early 60s. Those who came after, to be politically correct, had to be more “serious.”

By the Retro 90’s however, boomers began expressing some nostalgia for the 50s and 60s. Bridge–like martinis and steak houses–began a comeback. And there definitely has been an upturn in people who have either returned to or newly taken up bridge since then.

I, of course–never satisfied–would like to see that upturn become a deluge and to include sociable as well as serious bridge players. So . . . to repeat the premise of my first paragraph–where better to target nostalgic boomers whose parents were once part of that bridge-playing-on-campus era than through their alumni associations?

For an example of one such former bridge-playing student and the power of nostalgia, read about Marcia, a Smith graduate, in the Sociable Bridge blog that follows this. She played addictive bridge in her dorm as late as 1981. . .

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