The contest is familiar; it’s happened every year since 1875. But this 128th meeting of the boys of Harvard and the sons of Eli is different. Although we hold the series record over the Cantabs (65 victories to their 54), their repeated successes in the last decade spur us on to outplay them tomorrow.
Yale has not seen a Bulldog home victory since 1999. All of us were in grade school then. We want it more than them. Frankly, the Crimson has the better record, having clinched the Ivy League title last week. But we have one thing they are lacking: drive.
This drive is spurred on by the fact that during our time at Yale, not one of us has seen our men defeat the Crimson. The last time these two teams met at the Yale Bowl, we were leading the game until the final minutes. The heartbreaking last minute of that game still haunts those who were present. The famous call and the resulting defeat mixed with the November cold to make for a somber retreat to campus.
But this year is different. Patrick Witt ’12, our senior quarterback and a Rhodes finalist, chose to forgo his interview for the highly prestigious scholarship in order to don his Yale uniform one last time. He made a difficult decision to play in the most important game of the year. This is the type of dedication and commitment to a team that will propel us to victory.
Throughout the season, this same sense of resilience kept our team in the lead against resurgent Princeton and Columbia squads. It kept the Bulldogs fighting to the end during our last home game against Brown. I am sure that we will see this same spirit tomorrow.
The cynicism that I’ve heard from many toward athletes — and particularly toward the football team — has left me in dismay. What most Yalies fail to realize is that, without football, we would not have our ivory tower. The Yale brand was born and spread across America alongside its football team. Our institution owes as much to Walter Camp, class of 1880, as it does Ezra Stiles or Samuel F.B. Morse. Athletes are as important a part of our campus culture as a cappella groups, debating societies or thespians.
As Yalies and fans, it’s about time we step it up. Our team will need our support out there. The Yale Bowl may never reach capacity as it did in the golden age of Yale football, but we can give it a helluva shot on Saturday afternoon. Bring the same spirit we’ve been bringing to our hockey games the last three years to football, tomorrow and always.
Tailgating is great, and Yale-Harvard will be one of the most memorable experiences of our bright college years (at least when it’s in New Haven). But the three-plus hours of tailgating are more than enough for fans to make their way to the Bowl to cheer on our team at kickoff. Because, frankly, if you are not there to support the team, you shouldn’t feel qualified to complain — whatever the results.
The more of us present for the whole game, the more noise we can make to throw off the Crimson, the more support we can give our team. The alumni have a great showing every year — perhaps even outnumbering us the last two years — but this time, it must be different.
The hospitality we extend to our Cantab guests when we play at home is remarkable. Yale always wins the tailgate, and we definitely clinched the PR campaign this year. (Have you seen the Harvard Game shirts? Bragging about admissions statistics is the most pompous thing possible). But it’s about time we win the real contest. This weekend, we unite at the Bowl as Yalies have for generations. It’s about time for another Yale victory.
Christian Vazquez is a junior in Branford College. Contact him at email@example.com.