Miller: Princeton: third-wheel fun for all

What are chocolate and vanilla without strawberry? What were Puff Daddy and Biggie without Ma$e? What would Dawson and Joey be without Pacey?

Boring. Really boring. Like, John Kerry boring.

Apparently the old Yale adage goes, “Harvard sucks, and Princeton doesn’t matter.” But could you really live without Princeton? Your friendly editors at the News asked for my opinion.

I can see how Yale students might argue Princeton’s irrelevancy. The New Haven school has one traditional rival — Harvard — and there seems no need for a third wheel. But third wheels can make things fun and interesting.

Of course, one might argue the unimportance of both participants in tomorrow’s game. Yale, 3-2 in the league, is only one game behind the 4-1 leaders of Harvard, Penn and Brown, but no team has won the Ivy League with two losses since 1982. Princeton, with three league losses, is out of the running. It seems the meeting of the two mid-table sides is mostly for pride.

But then came the news that many Yale students will focus their tailgating efforts on the Princeton game this year, instead of the Harvard game. While this is a consequence of Harvard’s new policies, it does add some importance to the Princeton-Yale game (at least in even-numbered years). Like it or not, you’re stuck with us.

And listen, if y’all want to go back to Harvard after this season, I’m OK with that. Going back to the Dawson’s Creek analogy, we all know Dawson (Harvard, obviously) and Joey (Yale) are soul mates, but if Joey wants to fool around with Pacey (Princeton) for a season — even if it ruins Pacey and Dawson’s friendship in the long run — that’s alright. We can even have a nasty breakup at prom.

The point is, Princeton does matter. Consider this: In the official 52-year history of the Ivy League, Princeton has won 366 championships across all sports. Harvard’s 331 is next best, while Yale’s paltry 159 is good for fifth. Congrats on beating Dartmouth, fellas.

Take basketball for an example. We all know about Princeton and Penn’s long histories and Cornell’s recent dominance. On the other hand, Yale’s last two basketball championships were in 1962 and 1963, two titles that it shared with Princeton. When was Harvard’s last basketball title? Never, but at least coach Tommy Amaker is trying everything to kick-start the program.

So if this is the case, who rules, who sucks and who just doesn’t matter?

The relatively non-suck: Harvard, Yale, Princeton

I say “relatively” because in traditional American sports, the lack of scholarships and the antiquated Academic Index preclude Ivy League teams from competing with state schools from Sarah Palin’s Real America. Ivy League schools are good at things like math, elitism, financial crises and squash. But at least these three schools often produce teams that can compete nationally, and there’s no denying the trio’s Ivy League dominance.

Mired in sucktitude: Columbia, Penn, Brown

Columbia is really bad. In the history of the Ivy League, the Lions have won fewer Ivy championships across all sports than any school, and it’s not even close. As much as I’d like say Penn, Princeton’s most traditional rival, doesn’t matter, it does have some good teams and a great basketball tradition. So the Quakers are relevant, but I’ll never admit that they don’t suck.

Brown, on the cusp of sucktitude and irrelevancy, is right above Columbia in all-time championships. But my mother’s Sicilian heritage compels me to give a shout-out to Federal Hill and Providence’s Italian population.

Don’t matter: Those other two

If your “mascot” needs the word “big,” you are probably compensating for something — I’m guessing the irrelevancy. Also, I’m from North Carolina, and I hate snow.

Andy on “The Office” always reminds his co-workers that Cornell is in the Ivy League. Meanwhile, in the Yukon Territory away from the other Ivies, Dartmouth is known more for some guy who dresses up like a keg. I also heard it can go a whole month up there without getting above freezing. Yikes.

So I hope all this cleared some confusion on the adage. For whatever secret pride you may have in tomorrow’s game, I wish you good luck. Go Tigers!

Jake Miller is a senior at Princeton and an executive editor for sports at The Daily Princetonian.


  • Michelle