As The Game draws near, many Yalies may still be ashamed of last year’s loss to Harvard. The defeat marked the fourth in a row for the Bulldogs — the first time they had lost four straight Games since 1922. But, fellow Elis, you have no reason to fear.
First of all, Yale holds the all-time edge over Harvard with 64 wins, 49 losses and 8 ties. And secondly, even though the scoreboard read “Cantabs 35, Bulldogs 3” at the end of last year’s game, we all know who the real winners were.
Outside the superficial issue of points, the Elis obliterated Harvard in 2004. For those of you who have been living under a pile of books in CCL for the past year, Yale pulled off what was arguably the greatest prank in the history of collegiate sports in Cambridge last fall. A group of Yalies dressed up as the “Harvard Pep Squad” and distributed red and white placards that they said would spell out “Go Harvard” when raised at the same time. Little did the unsuspecting Cantab fans know that Mike Kai ’05 and David Aulicino ’05 had masterminded a plan to spell out a very different message. With 4:47 left before halftime, the Harvard Pep Squad cheered the Cantab contingent on as they raised their placards, proclaiming to the world what everyone already knew: “We Suck.”
The Prank garnered attention in the national media. Maxim called it “the greatest prank this side of the Mason-Dixon line since the Boston Tea Party … [It] caused dozens of stoic, blue-blooded Harvard men to spit port wine all over their smoking jackets.” Newspapers and other media outlets across the country reported The Prank, not the final score.
Harvard’s reaction was typical. They sneered, claimed they didn’t care, and then went back to their rooms, where they sat alone in front their computers bemoaning their miserable existences and searching for naked pictures of the Olsen twins.
When they woke up the next day, Harvard students returned to their other favorite pastime: scoffing at Yale. One piece in the Harvard Crimson droned, “The oh-so-bad-ass Yalies handed out signs that spelled ‘Harvard Sucks’ to fans sitting on the Crimson’s side of the stadium … [while Harvard] celebrated an undefeated season with good company and heavy drinking.” First of all, unless they were drinking water, this statement is clearly false. Everyone knows it’s easier to find a nun on “Girls Gone Wild” than it is to get a drink in Cambridge. And secondly, The Prank marked a sound thrashing of the Cantabs at the end of their “undefeated” season.
So when The Game comes to New Haven this Saturday, Yale will be the defending champion. Sure, the football team is probably practicing with the urgency of an EP&E major rushing up Hillhouse to hand in that Grand Strategy application on time. But the student body is the team that really needs to do some prep work for The Game, because you can bet that Harvard will be looking to strike back.
The most important thing that Elis can do to prepare for The Game is to maintain constant vigilance. To take a page from the MTA, “if you see something, say something.” Watch out for suspicious people dressed up in Yale Pep Squad costumes. Don’t accept placards from strangers. If you see a Harvard student pushing a baby carriage in front of a train, notify local authorities.
Next, take a moment to study the history of collegiate pranks, because plagiarism is almost as popular at Harvard as misogyny and grade inflation. Scheming Cantabs could poach from a century’s worth of famous intercollegiate pranks, the best of which come from their techie rivals at MIT.
On Nov. 20, 1982, MIT pulled one of its trademark tricks at The Game. After Harvard scored its second touchdown against Yale, a small black ball with “MIT” written all over it popped out of the ground around the 40-yard-line. The ball gradually increased in size until it reached a diameter of 6 feet and then exploded into a cloud of smoke with a loud bang.
On another occasion, an MIT student spending the summer in Cambridge decided to go to the Harvard football stadium every day for a leisurely stroll. Before heading to the field, she would don a black-and-white striped shirt and grab some birdseed. Upon arriving at the stadium, she would blow a whistle, then sprinkle the birdseed around the field.
She repeated this routine and fed the birds every day that summer. Months later, when the referee walked onto the field at Harvard’s first home game that fall and blew his whistle, pigeons flooded the field and the game had to be stopped.
But when it comes to fan preparation for The Game, sometimes the best defense is a good offense. Stealing the Harvard flag is always a plus. So is nudity. The Saybrook Strip is the sort of venerable tradition Yalies could use more of. Hounies, it’s time to start our own tradition — the Calhoun Moon.
In the end, the only way Harvard can really top last year’s prank is by finding a way to light up the Eli side of the Yale Bowl with the words “We Swallow.” Barring the occurrence of this sophomoric comeback, Yalies will remain the moral victors, regardless of The Game’s final score.
Zack O’Malley Greenburg is a junior in Calhoun College. His column appears on Wednesdays.