If you go to a Harvard-Yale football game, it doesn’t take more than a few seconds to realize that this isn’t your typical experience in any way.
Rather than a bunch of drunken frat guys tailgating around a fire and beat-up truck, you are more likely at “The Game” to be drinking champagne and eating fancy food in the parking lot next to a doctor, lawyer or businessman that is an alumni and/or donor. SUVs and luxury cars stretch as far as the eye can see, showing you the value of an Ivy League education in a tangible way.
When it comes to history, it is tough to beat Harvard vs. Yale since Saturday’s edition at Harvard Stadium in Cambridge was the 129th in the supremely historic series. The rivalry is always renewed the final Saturday afternoon of the season and since Ivy League teams don’t go to the FCS playoffs, it is without question the biggest game of the season every year for both squads. That means the weather can be all over the map since it is the last weekend before Thanksgiving. Luckily, this year there was no sign of snow, sleet, rain or other miserable weather. It was nothing but sunny skies and 40-degree weather, which made you feel in a weird way that perhaps the schools finally figured out a way to control the weather.
As far as the fans go, for the most part it’s the only time that most current Harvard and Yale students pretend to care about football and attend a game, which even Crimson senior running back Trevor Scales admitted afterwards.
“As soon as you commit to Harvard or Yale, that’s the game you worry about,” Scales said. “There is a lot of pressure this entire week leading up to the game but that’s what you love. It is culmination of 364 days of hard work from the last Yale game until now.”
Crimson head coach Tim Murphy said that win streaks and losing streaks “go in cycles” in this rivalry, but I’m sure he is a much happier guy since his team came out on top for the sixth straight season, 34-24.
Harvard Square was packed a few hours before kickoff as everyone walked over to the stadium. Unlike most other college kids, Harvard and Yale students have the best excuse for not caring too much about a sport that is the obsession of many parts of the United States. These are truly the future leaders of America so it makes sense that they are more likely to be found studying in the library, working on a paper, researching or networking at their social clubs, even on a Saturday.
There is tradition seeping out of every aspect of Harvard vs. Yale, beginning with the old cement benches of Harvard Stadium that the crowds are forced to sit on (quite uncomfortably I may add). They also bring in metal bleachers for the end zones to accommodate the largest crowd of the season. It’s tough to miss the flag for the Crimson’s Rose Bowl Champions in 1920 behind one end zone plus the National Champions (last one in 1919) and Ivy League Champions banners that ring the top of the stadium. With elaborate performances by the respective school bands before, during, at halftime and after the game, you get the feeling that everybody is involved in some manner or another. Not to mention a pregame coin toss that features the host university’s president, where else do you see that?
Finally, both schools put on short but very topical original plays at halftime that are hilarious and supremely well-written. Is there anything Ivy League schools can’t do?