Game Gear of the Year

A time-honored tradition, customed T-shirts are arguably as indispensable an accessory to The Game as those adorable fight songs. I say “adorable” because although the chirpy disposition of “Boola Boola” never fails to please us with its delightful sequence of Boola Boos, we tend to resort to T-shirt designs for the hard-core slander.

The origins of The T-shirt are as obscure as are the reasons that urge some lost souls to choose Harvard over Yale.

The past of The T-shirt is, at best, murky. A plethora of controversial designs by both institutions have occasionally caused both on- and off-campus outrage. Previous Harvard designs include gems like “Yale: Harvard for Dummies” and “We’ll Kick Your Ass Today/And Fire Your Ass Tomorrow” — i.e., grandiose, elitist clichés. The Yale T-shirt’s predecessors include “Yale rules, Harvard sucks, and Princeton doesn’t matter” and “Huck Farvard.” Others reference pop culture; one features infamous Harvard College alumnus Ted Kaczynski, class of ’62 (a.k.a. the Unabomber), and reads “You’d have to be crazy to go to Harvard.”

This year, some of the Harvard designs dwell on pop culture items, uninvolved wordplay and recycled jokes. The winner of the Harvard College Fund Undergraduate Committee’s T-shirt competition reads “Google Safety School … Did you mean: Yale” (The newest rendition of an old joke by several Harvard alumni who in 2002 purchased the domain www.safetyschool.org and linked it directly to Yale’s website).

(They still have control of the domain.)

In any case, our designs for this year may not be the most memorable ones (blame it on the host), but there’s still some degree of originality and timely referencing going on. Let’s break it down.

1. Freshman Class Council

This year’s FCC design is referencing the recent movie “The Social Network,” which chronicles the rise to infamy of Facebook’s Frankenstein. The Facebook blue, eerily reminiscent of Pantone 289 (a.k.a. Yale Blue), acts both as inspiration to our team — most won’t distinguish one hue of blue from the other — and as an wry bitch-slap to Harvard’s claim to a dropout’s success. Although less controversial than last year’s prototype, which cited F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” — “I think of all Harvard men as sissies” — this design still managed to gather some publicity. Various websites, such as Gawker and Hillicon Valley, commented on Yale’s depiction of Harvard as the anti-social network. “The don’t exactly attend a party school, either,” Sara Jerome said in her piece for Hillicon Valley, “Yale Students mock Harvard over Zuckerberg Affiliation.” Well, Sara, 1) In comparison to Harvard, UChicago is a party school, and 2) You have clearly not been to the Cavity.

Joseph Yagoda ’14, who came up with the idea of using a distorted version of the recent blockbuster, said that the FCC “wanted the T-shirt to be interactive.” With this design, the organization is encouraging Yalies to fill in the blank as they see fit. In other words, they’re leaving the inappropriateness to the student body. Sneaky.

2. The Yale Record

Ngozi Ukazu ’13, who designed the T-shirt, believes her T-shirt is “going to be big.”

“When people are looking for a game shirt, they are looking for a shirt that’s funny and looks nice,” Ukazu said. “The joke is pretty clear, it applies to a lot of Yale students and hopefully people will appreciate it.”

Playing off the stereotype that Yalies are more academically oriented, the Record presumably hopes to attract a crowd that, not unlike myself, is only going to the game to witness Harvard’s defeat.

3. Yale Center for British Art

The Yale Student Guide Program at the YCBA is also issuing a limited 40-piece design that wordplays on the now popular World War II poster. The design, based on a poster first distributed by the British government in 1939 as “Keep Calm and Carry On,” was chosen after a competition within the Center’s undergraduate guide program, David Mogilner ’12, current member of the program, said in a phone interview.

I have mixed feelings. The crown makes me think of Mexican beer and lime garnishes, which is good. Then again, the original poster first appeared in 1939, and during the next six years, hundreds of thousands of British people died as a consequence of a global conflict, which is bad. It all comes down to the fact that the YCBA guides designed a T-shirt and their counterparts at the Yale University Art Gallery did not, which is what this is all about.

4. Sigma Chi Fraternity

“We felt that The Game shirts in the past have been too negative and aren’t in the spirit of sportsmanship,” Daniel Choi ’12, SigChi Vice President, said in an email. “So we thought we’d instead use an inspirational quote from a famous leader.”

Alright, I’m not even going to pretend this one is good. Why is Gandhi relevant? Isn’t it a little weird to quote him as just “Gandhi,” like we’d quote Cher or Madonna?

5. Independent

It’s a rainy October day and Florian Koenigsberger ‘14, Cristina Vere Nicoll ‘14, Seth Thompson ‘14 and Sterling Brinkley ‘14 have nothing to do, i.e. whipping their hair to Willow Smith’s single is starting to get boring. Too late to submit anything to the FCC competition, the group decides to print their design nonetheless — on an American Apparel ‘super soft’ unisex tee. The Bulldog in the front was originally designed by Vere Nicoll “the plan being that [she] would one day make a Yale tee using it,” she said in a e-mail. The back features Harvard’s official tailgating rules, and a stamp-like rendering of the group’s plans for the hours preceding The Game.

6. Women’s Club Water Polo

This is only an attempt by the Women’s Club Water Polo to fundraise for the team. As in, the strategy is pretty much rehashing and old, non-specific design that vaguely promotes Eli spirit to make money. But we all want money, and to be honest, my favorite thing about this T-shirt is that there is no mention of Harvard at all. It’s also surrounded by what I presume to be paw prints. Like, bulldog paw prints, right?

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