What I Imagine the Final Athletic Department Report on the Gourmet Heaven Brawl Will Say:
About two weeks ago, two varsity football players and three varsity hockey players were arrested for fighting each other outside Gourmet Heaven. After an exhaustive and painstaking review, the Yale Athletic Department has come to a sobering conclusion, one which gets to the heart of the issues surrounding the fight. The football players needed more blocking up front.
We live in a society of laws, and one of those laws is that you always, always protect the QB. Every offensive lineman should have been in that brawl, giving Matt Polhemus ’08 some breathing room in the pocket. Even the best quarterback needs time to get those punches out of his system. By not playing their assignment, our O-line acted in a way that’s entirely unbecoming of Yale students. If we didn’t have an Ivy League Championship to think about, we might even suspend them for a game.
But while the athletes who didn’t participate in the fistfight are clearly the most at fault, let’s not forget the kids who were directly involved, starting with running back Mike McCleod ’09. In most brawls this season, McCleod’s done great, twice winning the award for Ivy League Menace of the Week. But this time around, when all the cards were on the table, he couldn’t break into the secondary, or even into someone’s sternum. Some argue it’s because Coach Jack Siedlecki relies too heavily on McCleod – he threw 40 punches in this last brawl, compared to Polhemus’s 16. But the real playmakers are the guys who go out and shatter school records and clavicles, regardless of the situation. When the going gets tough, the tough gouge out peoples’ eyes. If McCleod wants to be the face of Yale football, he’s got to beat the crap out of his opponents week in and week out.
If there’s a silver lining in this disgraceful incident, it’s Polhemus’s development at quarterback. He was able to audible from a peaceful conversation into a drunken street fight with poise and control, exactly the kind of leadership we look for in a Yale student-athlete. When McCleod was being double-teamed, effectively shutting down the running game, Polhemus did what he had to do – he stepped up, used his arm, and hit someone in the face with it. He also showed that he wasn’t afraid to make plays with his feet, particularly when he kicked that guy in the groin. Best of all, he’s a quick study – he told the News that this was “a learning experience.” That’s especially impressive, given that we didn’t teach him a lesson. Good kid.
Just because it’s not hockey season yet doesn’t mean we’re letting the hockey players off the hook, either. What they did was morally wrong, and it reflected badly on the entire school. There were three of them, and only two guys from the football team: that’s a power play! Every hockey player knows how important it is to convert when you’re a man up. The athletic department recommends that they be immediately suspended from having to take classes so that they can do some extra drilling.
The athletic department isn’t just going to slap a band-aid on this situation. This brawl highlighted a deeper, more serious problem in our athletic culture itself: not enough hustle. All five of our brawlers brought their A-game in the opening minutes, breaching the peace, destroying property, and the like, but when the cops showed up, did they flee the scene? Did they resist arrest? No. They let the rule of law back into the game in the second half. That’s not the kind of play that brings in donation money.
We also think it’s important for our athletic department report to address the $3500 dollars worth of property damage to Gourmet Heaven. The idea that this destruction reflects poorly on Yale is ridiculous – after all, it’s not like any Yale students are going to have to pay for it. If people are looking for something to complain about, it should be the New Haven Police Department – it took them a full week before they remembered that athletes are above the law and dropped all their charges.
While this report has wrapped up most of the key disciplinary issues, there’s no reason to think that Yale Athletics shouldn’t keep moving forward – this is only the tip of the iceberg. In fact, we’d like to conclude this report not by answering a question, but by asking one.
With all this going on, where was men’s lacrosse?
David Litt might be Yale Record president but he hasn’t yet climaxed in his journalistic career. He’s waiting for that call from Playboy summoning him to the heavens.