While students mingle over drinks on the intramural fields this weekend, few will be able to distinguish Yalies from Princeton visitors unless they are decked out in blue or orange. Although it may be the second oldest rivalry in college football, Yale-Princeton apparently does not matter enough for Yalies to make t-shirts commemorating the occasion.
A long-standing tradition at both Yale and Harvard has been creating t-shirts for students to wear to The Game — a pregame battle of the wits, one could say. Shirts produced by Yale groups in recent years have slammed Harvard with phrases like “Harvard: almost as fun as abstinence” and “Harfart University.” Last year, Sigma Alpha Epsilon sold trucker hats emblazoned with “Harvard Sucks” and Sigma Phi Epsilon is working on sunglasses to market this year.
But this tradition is noticeably absent from the Yale-Princeton rivalry.
This past week in Commons, only a lone student group capitalized on the missing market. Members of Students Taking Action Now Darfur are selling t-shirts with “Darfur matters” printed on the front and “Princeton doesn’t” on the back.
“No one does it,” said Sara Egozi ’12, of her group’s decision to create the shirts for Saturday’s game. “We thought it was original and catchy.”
The group members said they ordered 100 shirts and sold, at a price of $10 each, at least 80 during the past week. Proceeds will support the group’s anti-genocide efforts.
But despite STAND’s success, the idea to create shirts for the Princeton game has not caught on with many campus organizations.Jacob Abolafia ’10, chairman of The Yale Record, Yale’s 127-year-old humor magazine, said the group did not consider creating anti-Tiger shirts this year, though he said the thought had surfaced in recent years since Harvard’s stringent tailgating regulations had diminished student interest in The Game. But regardless of Harvard’s attempts to squelch students’ fun, he said, t-shirts are reserved for Yale’s biggest rival.
“Drinking regulations or no drinking regulations,” Abolafia said, “The Game is always going to be The Game.”
Vincent McPhillip ’10, co-founder of Catalyst Apparel, a startup T-shirt design company, agreed that Harvard is the main rival. To capitalize on one of their primary sales opportunities, the company is already in the process of selling a number of student designed t-shirts made in preparation for next week’s historic contest.
Although the Harvard match-up is held highest in Elis’ hearts, in recent years, Ivy League titles have been decided in the Yale-Princeton games. In 2005, the Elis destroyed Princeton’s title dreams with a 21-14 come-from-behind victory. The last time the Tigers visited the Bowl, they defeated the Bulldogs 34-31, leading the two teams to share the Ivy League title.
So why hasn’t this weekend’s game made t-shirt production into a cottage industry on campus, as it always does in the run-up to the Harvard game? Despite the history of the Yale-Princeton game — it is the second-oldest rivalry in all of college football, after all — football captain Bobby Abare ’09 said the connection between the two schools is just not as strong as that between Harvard and Yale.
“Harvard and Yale are compared to each other a lot,” he said. “The students care about that game a little more because the winner has bragging rights for the next year.”
There is no doubt that Yalies will come out in droves on Saturday, given the fact that the game is just down the street. But if apparel sales are any indicator, it is clear that in many Eli hearts, Princeton really doesn’t matter. Harvard does, however, and spectators next week will likely have the crimson and blue t-shirts to prove it.