One of my abiding memories of two-and-a-bit years at Yale is watching Peter Salovey, dean of the Graduate School at the time, attempting to overcome his tortured embarrassment at teaching a pre-Game collection of grad students to sing, with feeling:
Bow, wow, wow
Bow, wow, wow
Our team can never fail
When the sons of Eli
Break through the line
That is the sign we hail
Bow, wow, wow
I bow to nobody in my admiration for Cole Porter (class of ’13), but his fight songs only demonstrate the fact that we can’t be on top of our game all the time.
It could be that Porter wasn’t writing to demonstrate his love of the sport. As coleporter.org notes, “perhaps the number of Yale football fight songs he wrote in college and his post-college sexual preference for large strong men were not entirely coincidence.”
That’s not impossible, but writing slightly cloying fight songs strikes me as an implausible method of attempting to hook up with athletes. It’s also kinda sad to think that he spent the rest of his life searching for someone to remind him of the cute — well, if I had any sense of self-restraint at all I’d avoid using the term “tight end,” but I don’t so I won’t.
Which reminds me: Isn’t it counter-intuitive that Americans, a people renowned for their love of the instantaneous, should have adopted sports that take such an ass-achingly long time to complete? Baseball and “football” — or, as we call it back home, “American football” — aren’t so much games as events.
Not that this is always a bad thing. At The Game of 2003, for instance, the surrounding entertainment was a pleasant distraction from the fiasco on the field. Yale tried hard that year, but was seriously hampered by its failure to master technical skills, such as the ability to throw or catch.
As Yale attempts to avoid a fifth straight defeat, it’s some consolation to know that we kick Hahvahd’s ass in all areas apart from the actual football. As the world is now aware, we have superior pranksters: Harvard will glow crimson with shame for eternity at being reminded that they were induced to hold aloft cards that spelled out “WE SUCK.”
Let’s note that again: Harvard spells out “WE SUCK.”
(When I checked this online, a Mexican blogger had commented that “the intricasies [sic] of the prank are awesome. How they pulled it off is an engineering marvel.” Not quite on the scale of the Hoover Dam, say, but pretty damn impressive nonetheless.)
And the Yale Precision Marching Band is a support group far superior to anything Harvard can offer. As the Duke of Wellington said about his troops, “I don’t know what they do to the enemy but, by God, they frighten me.” And we have a vicious slavering bulldog as our mascot, whereas — and this is according to the official Cantab Web site:
“The school mascot is John Harvard, a pilgrim-like figure in 17th-century dress.”
I’m sorry, but that’s just crap. The only time you need to see a pilgrim-like figure in 17th-century dress is during productions of “The Crucible” or a particularly inventive Halloween Party. There’s a reason that we didn’t adopt Elihu Yale as our mascot, and not simply because he left America at age three and is now residing on a Web site devoted to famous people from Northeast Wales.
Besides, however inept his fight songs (and it’s a good thing his reputation doesn’t rest upon “Bingo, bingo, bingo / That’s the lingo!”), we have Cole Porter and Harvard doesn’t. As we know, Porter eventually got his act together, wrote “Love For Sale,” “Well, Did You Evah?” “You’re the Top!’ and also the lesser-known:
“I want to row on the crew, Mama,
That’s the thing I want to do, Mama.
To be known throughout Yale as I walk about it,
Get a boil on my tail and then talk about it.
I’d like to be a big bloke, Mama,
And learn the new Argentine stroke, Mama.
You’ll see your slim son
Putting crimps in the Crimson,
When I row on the Varsity Crew”
Let’s channel that homoeroticism, boys, and put some serious crimps in the Crimson. After all, Hahvahd’s team may fight to the end, but …
YALE! WILL! WIN!
Nick Baldock, will be in the stands singing “Baldock! Baldock! Bow wow wow!”