On Saturday morning, I woke up, staggered downstairs and planted myself in front of the television. Like over a million Americans every Saturday morning, I switched the channel to ESPN to watch College GameDay.
For those unfamiliar with the show, ESPN packs up and brings its cameras, top college football analysts and a DJ to a stadium somewhere in the country. The location isn’t revealed until the week before the game. It sets up in front of crowds of excited students and fans, many of whom hold signs that run the gamut from the classic “Hi Mom Send Money” to hilarious jabs at the visiting team to shoutouts at GameDay’s well-known personalities. GameDay often shows up at meaningful matchups, rivalry grudge matches or games with interesting storylines.
Watching football on Saturday, I began thinking of a game that GameDay should circle on the calendar — a game that would be meaningful, showcase a legendary rivalry and overflow with interesting storylines. That game will be played right here in New Haven on Sept. 27 when Army comes to town.
Think that’s just my bias speaking? Think again.
There’s no doubt the game will make good TV. How about 1,000 West Point cadets walking through the Walter Camp (the inventor of modern American football) Memorial Gate? An aerial view of the Yale Bowl, which was the inspiration for other GameDay sites like the LA Coliseum, the Rose Bowl and Michigan Stadium, surrounded by the early color changes of New England’s autumn, would be aesthetically stunning. And there will be a great storyline.
While we’re talking about history, good luck finding a deeper non-conference rivalry in college football today. Yale and Army have played 45 times, with the first time in 1893 as Yale shut out the Black Knights in a national championship for the Elis. The teams have combined for five Heisman Award winners and, depending on what source you use, 23 national championships. Half of the top 10 most attended games in the Yale Bowl’s 100-year history were Yale vs. Army. The largest crowd ever at the Yale Bowl? Yale vs. Army in 1923, with 80,000 spectators. The rivalry is real.
In an era of college football when scandal and controversy often overshadow the sport, why not spend a Saturday highlighting two schools where the term student-athlete still means something? There may not be as many NFL prospects on the field as in an SEC or Big 10 game, but I’m sure ESPN’s analysts wouldn’t mind spending the morning talking about the academic achievements of one of our players or the leadership potential of one of Army’s. Would the commentary be likely to generate heated debate in the comments section of ESPN’s website? Probably not. But it’s an opportunity to showcase the roots of America’s most popular sport, football, in its purest form. No fluff, no fancy uniforms, no athletic scholarships.
A detractor might point out that Yale’s football games don’t always attract the critical mass of students necessary for a GameDay set. I have no such fears.
Just as we do every year for the Harvard or Princeton football game, just as we did for the hockey national championship or even for our home hockey games against Quinnipiac or Harvard, just as we do for rivalry games in all sports — we’ll be there in droves. And imagine the signs we could make! Our tailgate culture, with its emphasis on crazy costumes and dancing, would make for great television and give ESPN analysts the opportunity to talk about us letting loose after our latest library bender.
Now it’s up to us. It’s time to mobilize. ESPN will be deciding soon, probably after this weekend’s games. Tweet at them. Tag them in Facebook statuses. Upload pictures of you and your friends decked out in Yale spirit to Instagram. Let’s convince ESPN to bring GameDay to the place it belongs on Sept. 27: here.
Andrew Sobotka is a senior in Jonathan Edwards College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.