November 24th, 2012 | Opinion

GORMAN: The next Yale-Harvard game

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Photo by Yusef Syed.

The average Yale student had little control over the outcome of The Game last weekend. Luckily for us, however, another Yale-Harvard competition is on the horizon.

This January, Yale will host a battle for the ages — the Yale-Harvard blood drive. Like our recent showings in the Yale-Harvard football game, our performance in the blood drive is historically subpar. Many Yale undergrads are eligible to donate, but the blood drive’s meager pint average garnered over the last four years doesn’t reflect this. We might be less competitive than the Cantabs, but we’re certainly nicer people, so our narrow 20-pint margin over the Crimson last year is unacceptable. This year, we must crush them.

We, as citizens of Yale, should equally bear the responsibility to uphold our reputation against Harvard. But donors are not equally spread throughout the University. For example, most of the members of the women’s rugby team donate without having to talk about it, but at the Yale Daily News, often just half a block away from the drive, donors are as scarce as Oxford commas. This kind of apathy might be a personal decision when it comes to sports, but when we’re talking about saving lives, donating blood becomes a civic duty, not an optional act of community service.

The stakes of this year’s competition are high. An administrator of the losing team must dress up in the garb of the rival institution. It will take determination, commitment and bravery to save Mary Miller from an unflattering Crimson sweater.

You’ll need to decide to show up, and maybe even fill out the online appointment form. But don’t worry, volunteers will literally come to your dining hall and show you how to do it in case you forget. You won’t have to remember where the drive is because big, bright red signs all over campus will corral you onto course. You will have to commit 45 whole minutes of your time to the cause on Drive Day, though if the lines are longer, consider it a blessing that your fellow Elis decided not to be, as Ben Polak would say, “evil gits.”

You’ll need to suffer the slews of a fingerprick and a needle — not to mention those scary people in white robes. It’s possible you’ll even get a headache or a slightly sore arm afterwards. (If you are one of the few who are prone to fainting, take care of yourself.) But courage is about surpassing fear for the sake of what is noble, selfless and true. Get over it.

If you’re still having doubts about your ability to perform on Drive Day, you can earn a point for Yale just by showing up. But since we want to dominate Harvard in pints as well as on paper, here are some training tips that will help get your game up to hero status.

Practice donating blood. Nothing ups your game like some real competitive experience. Scrimmages are hosted monthly throughout the community.

Pump (up your) iron. You’ll need a hemoglobin count of 12.5 g/dL to donate. The Red Cross publishes a list of iron-rich foods on its website. If you’re vegetarian, I’ve discovered a diet of spinach, orange juice and Cheerios (45 percent of your daily iron value per serving) works wonders.

Work on cardio. You’re going to need to get your pulse down in the acceptable range of a normal, healthy human being when you’re sitting motionless in a chair at the drive.

Sacrifice. Like any athletic process, excelling involves sacrifice. Don’t be like me at the last blood drive and clock in at a hemoglobin count of 12.4 g/dL because you drank too much black tea in the week leading up to the drive. Tea prevents your body from absorbing iron. Sometimes rising to your full potential involves giving up the things most precious to you — even tea.

Not everyone is eligible to donate. The Red Cross has its shortcomings. Controversial policies regarding the ineligibility of men who have been sexually active with other men have alienated a substantial portion of the population. But if you are eligible, don’t let politics get in the way of making a difference. Instead, bring a “blood buddy,” an individual barred from donating for a reason you find unjustified, to the drive and make it clear why he is there, or simply voice your concern during your pre-donation evaluation. Red Cross workers tend to agree with these concerns, but they recognize the need to work within the current system to help the community and bring about change.

Blood drives are about doing our part to sustain life, but the Yale-Harvard drive is also about representing our institution as compassionate and honorable. When we wipe the floor with the Crimson this year, we remind ourselves or our superior ability to care about others and provide Essential Liquid Infusions, or ELI.