Academic Playoff Beards

Posted: April 14, 2011 in Academia, Life in the UK

One of the most difficult things I have to deal with while living in the UK is how to handle my sports. I’m an avid NFL, NHL and MLB fan (not much of an NBA fan…somehow I find it challenging to go from watching tough NHL players block 90 mph shots and check each other hard into the boards to watching NBA players whine about how some other guy didn’t let them get to the basket…but maybe that’s just me…). The problem is that we are 5-8 hours ahead of you folks in the US, and the large majority of sporting events take place during “prime time”. This puts me in the difficult position of choosing between staying up uber-late to catch my team play and be tired the next day in teh lab (and make typos in my blog posts), or not follow some of the most exciting sports of the year just to nab some more zzz’s….Well, I think you can expect some more tpos of the next several weeks (hopefully longer!). But I do plan on putting in some work on manuscripts from my previous lab between periods.

So one of my favorite sport traditions is the playoff beard of the NHL playoffs (which just started!). For those of you not familiar, NHL players do not shave once the playoffs begin (well sometimes they do some ridiculous facial hair curating…). They only shave if their team is knocked out of the playoffs. It’s a bit of a superstition, good luck kinda’ thing. So by the time the Stanley Cup finals roll around, you have a bunch of scruffy looking, mostly bearded, hockey players scooting around on the ice (except for those youngin’ players). I’ve always participated in my own way by not shaving until my team was knocked out.

So this got me thinking, what would the academic equivalent of a playoff beard be? Perhaps one doesn’t shave until they get tenure (seems a bit extreme).  Or perhaps it’s not shaving until one’s PI says “so, where’s all that data you promised me?”. This second option would have the added benefit that you would look like you’ve been working like mad since you haven’t even had time to shave!

Well, I promise my next post won’t be sports related…or at least if it is it’ll be related to British sports (I have been getting into a bit of football/soccer lately!).

  1. Bashir says:

    I was just thinking the other day, I have a bit of playoff beard going. Mostly it’s out of morning laziness, but I tell myself that it’s my “academic go-time” beard. Maybe I’ll keep it until I get a TT job. Or until I get this latest manuscript submitted.

  2. Who’s your NHL team?

    We’re heading to the UK in a few weeks, and my husband is trying to decide whether to do the NHL playoff beard thing. He usually does, but he’s not too keen on having to answer questions about it every day for the whole time we’re there! (He’s assuming the Canucks will go deep. I’m much more superstitious than him when it comes to sport, and I refuse to assume anything).

    Have you watched any rugby yet? It’s the best sport in the world, IMHO – physical AND tactical, with much more flow than NFL, which as a rugby fan I just can’t bear to watch. All those stoppages! The rugby world cup starts in the autumn 🙂

    • funkdoctorx says:


      Not so sure I want to divulge my NHL team so as I can retain some semblance of anonymity. There aren’t too many American’s in the UK in academia, let alone hockey fans…suffice it to say they are in the playoffs! And I totally hear you on the superstitious aspect of sports, after living through many many many years of disappointment I would never consider not growing a playoff beard!

      As for rugby, this is going to be a topic of a future post. So far of the three British sports, football, rugby and cricket, I like rugby the best. Only problem is that it seems like football is on all the time! I really enjoyed watching the 6 nation rugby tournament last month, though I still don’t really get all the rules (the scrum has me baffled). I look forward to the world cup though!

      • chall says:

        As a European NHL fan I readily admit I stayed up those nights my team(s) played in the play offs… even some of the other games in regular season too 😉 It’s a tradeoff. If nothing else, maybe you can savor those weekend games and enjoy very intense three games per Friday ?

        As for NFL, I remember last Xmas when I visited Europe and found a sports bar, looked at the Sunday game and … with 10 min left in the 4 quarter the bar decided to close!!! I was mortified after watching almost the whole game and really excited about my team. Ah well, I guess that is one of the best reasons to have internet/odd channels on your own telly?

        Enjoy the play offs!

        • funkdoctorx says:

          Yea, it’s been quite a few late nights so far, and there are more to come I’m sure (I hope!). As for the NFL, we were kicked out of a pub with about 10 min left in the game earlier this year and had to rush home and find a feed on the internet. Ain’t no love for American sports here!

          But I have been lucky to find some great feeds on the internet for sports, so at least there is that!

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