It’s that time of the year again. But aside from a note in your planner or an increasing amount of spam in your inbox, you just might miss it. The unseasonably warm temperature certainly isn’t giving it away. Then again, how can you miss the nine e-mails about Friday’s “Dance Party with Pance Party”?
It’s Harvard-Yale week, and it’s time for the 126th edition of The Game.
I’ve always thought the name of this rivalry game is misleading and yet, at the same time, incredibly appropriate. Certainly, Harvard-Yale is not just another game. It’s exceptional for many reasons, and it always has been.
On Saturday at noon in the Yale Bowl, Yale will compete against Harvard for supremacy on the field of play. But a victory in The Game extends far beyond the white lines of a football field. As institutions, Harvard and Yale are synonymous with excellence. They compete to bring in the top students from around the world. They strive to one-up each other in terms of academic resources (read: books). And they do battle with each other to top the U.S. News & World Report’s College Ranking list. This competitive spirit extends beyond the halls of each institution as graduates of both universities often contend with one another for the same jobs.
Considering the age-old traditions of each university and the history between them, the name “The Game” says it all. Anything more than this simple moniker would be tacky and distasteful — just like the amount of fur that will be on display at the tailgate.
Some would argue it’s the only Ivy League football game that matters. To the players, this is certainly not the case. But for some alumni and non-athletes from both schools — many of whom don’t enter the Bowl until halftime, after hours of tailgating — the primacy of The Game holds true.
This upcoming Saturday has been circled on my calendar ever since I transferred to Yale at the beginning of the school year. For me, The Game holds special meaning. My older brother, Jeff, graduated from Harvard this past spring after having played football for the Crimson. He too was a quarterback.
Coming to watch him play, I had the opportunity to see the 2006 and 2007 editions of The Game in Cambridge and New Haven, respectively.
As many Yale seniors remember, 2006 was the last time the Elis beat the Crimson — the only time in the past eight years to be exact. 2006 was also the last year we shared a piece of the Ivy League Championship.
The 2007 version of The Game is one that many Elis would like to forget. Entering the contest undefeated and poised to capture back-to-back Ivy League titles, the Bulldogs saw their perfect season crushed at the hands of the Crimson in a resounding 37–6 defeat.
Guilt compels me to admit that I was cheering for Harvard in both games. Forgive me, Yale, for I knew not what I was doing. This weekend’s game provides me with a chance at redemption.
On a serious note, The Game is an opportunity for our team to atone for many of this season’s disappointments. Though we’re not competing for an Ivy League Championship, there is still a lot at stake Saturday.
A victory would send this year’s senior class out as winners. It would galvanize the student body, for one night at least, provide an important building block for the future of Yale football and reverse a trend of seven losses in the past eight years. Most importantly, a win over the Crimson would secure bragging rights for our team, at least until next year.
After last week’s game at Princeton, we adhered to our normal Sunday routine — weightlifting in the afternoon, followed by a film review session. Having analyzed and corrected our mistakes, our focus immediately shifted to Harvard.
While the media and the Yale College Council are obligated to hype this week’s game, our goal as football players is to avoid distractions and remain focused. We are approaching the Harvard game just like we have all the others this season — morning practices on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and a “walk through ” (a quick padless review of the week’s practices) in the Yale Bowl Friday afternoon. But no matter how hard we try to convince ourselves, this game is not like all the rest.
The Harvard-Yale rivalry is unique because it is founded on respect. This supersedes the competition and is what makes The Game so great — let’s be honest, we don’t respect Cornell the same way we respect Harvard.
Like many of you, I’m heading home Sunday for a much-needed Thanksgiving break. Regardless of Saturday’s result, I’ll be forced to sit at the same table as my Cantab brother come Thursday. And when I pass him the turkey, I fully intend to say, “Eat up, bro. You’re looking as weak as your boys in Crimson did on Saturday.”
For more Harvard-Yale coverage, visit yaledailynews.com/thegame.