It’s simply called The Game for a reason. It’s the most important athletic event of the year for many Yalies, even in years when the Ivy League title is not on the line for the Bulldogs.
But what most Yalies might not know, or tend to forget, is that there are many other games that take place on the same day. The Game falls at the beginning of the winter sports season, a time when many teams are just beginning regular season play.
This year, there are six other Yale sporting events taking place Saturday — a swim meet, a diving competition, a fencing tournament, men’s and women’s ice hockey games and a men’s basketball contest. Swimming, diving, fencing and men’s hockey are all on the road Saturday, while the members of the women’s hockey and men’s basketball teams play at home Saturday evening, and cannot attend The Game because of game day preparation.
“It’s not that I don’t feel like I’m ‘missing out’; it’s just that after four years, you’re kind of used to it,” diver Drew Teer ’10 said. “The hardest part for me this year is not being able to support my friends on the team for their Senior Day.”
While the swimming team heads to Boston University, the diving team will join the football team in taking on Harvard on Saturday, though the divers will be competing in Cambridge, Mass.
For many athletes, missing The Game is just part of playing on a winter sports team. Men’s basketball guard Porter Braswell ’11 was able to make it to the 2007 edition, but he will not be able to attend this year: His team has walkthroughs all day before its 7 p.m. start against Quinnipiac.
“You miss out [on] one of the best experiences of being a Yale student,” he said. “I mean as an athlete it’s tough because you miss out on a lot of fun things, and the Harvard-Yale game is one of the highlights of the year that you miss out on.”
But men’s hockey forward Sean Backman ’10 said because he and his teammates have never attended a Game, they do not know what they’re missing.
For most athletes, skipping The Game is secondary to their own competitions.
“On one hand, it’s disappointing because of the history of The Game and the tradition that is involved with the game,” Backman said. “But we have to go out and compete in our own contest, which is my first priority.”
For the football team, the Harvard-Yale game marks the end of the season, but all of the other teams in action this weekend will continue to train and compete through Thanksgiving break.
The women’s basketball team will travel to New Mexico for a tournament, and other squads will play as many as three games during the week. Players pointed out that this provides an opportunity to focus solely on athletics, without the added pressure of classes. But the schedule means that many players will not get to travel home for Thanksgiving.
“Most of the girls on the team won’t be able to go home because we’re on the ice everyday, but on Thanksgiving we have early morning practice so that everyone can have Thanksgiving dinner with their family who lives nearby,” women’s hockey goaltender Genny Ladiges ’12 said.
But the beauty of The Game is that it continues to be played. Year after year, the Yale football squad takes on its rival from Cambridge, giving athletes who missed out on The Game as students the opportunity to take part in the storied rivalry as alumni.
“Yes, I will come back to a Yale-Harvard game as an alum,” Backman said. “I will be truly excited about the experience so many of my classmates talk about.”
For more Harvard-Yale coverage, visit yaledailynews.com/thegame.