The annual Harvard-Yale football game will start two hours later than usual this November — a scheduling switch some students allege may affect alcohol consumption.
In previous Harvard-Yale matches, kickoff was typically scheduled for 12:30 p.m. This year’s Game will start at 2:30 p.m., a kickoff time requested by the NBC Sports Network, which televises The Game, according to Associate Athletics Director Sports Publicity Steve Conn. While event planners have already set in place several measures intended to accommodate students attending the afternoon event, some students have expressed concern that the pushed-back start time could detract from the experience of The Game and even lead to higher instances of binge drinking.
Michael Herbert ’16, former president of the Yale College Council and staff columnist for the News, said The Game’s later start time, coupled with the ban on the sale of alcohol within the Yale Bowl, will result in a less enjoyable experience for students and fans.
“I think that the start time isn’t going to help anything,” Herbert said. “People will still be starting very early and drinking through the day, and at 2:15, people will indulge more than they should, because they know it’s going to be their last chance [before the Game].”
Herbert added that the Yale Bowl’s ban on alcohol encourages irresponsible behavior. The bigger problem remains — students have to drink all their alcohol before they go to the stadium, he said.
Still, Alex Borsa ’16, a communication and consent educator for Silliman College, said he feels students will pace their celebrations more because of the Game’s later start time and have a more positive experience as well.
“My immediate reaction [to the later kickoff time] is one of relief,” Borsa said. “Students won’t feel the need to get drunk as quickly, or in more dangerous ways, by not eating or hydrating.”
But like Herbert, Borsa said he disagrees with the ban on alcohol within the Yale Bowl and is in favor of the sale of beer and wine within the stadium.
He added that he does not believe the current ban deters students from drinking, arguing that it instead encourages students to drink more before the game.
“Drinking a lot beforehand would not be in students’ best interest,” he said. “It brings greater biological and social risks.”
Administrators in charge of the Alcohol and Other Drugs Harm Reduction Initiative said that they were hopeful that, with the additional time, students would be sensible in their planning for activities before the game.
“Hopefully, this two-hours-later start time will allow students more time to rest and eat before the festivities begin,” AODHRI Students Affairs Fellow Elizabeth Larsen ’15 said, adding that student safety is a top priority at football games.
Administrators interviewed declined to comment on the potentially increased risk of alcohol overconsumption.
Even though The Game draws an excess of 50,000 people, thus resulting in more medical incidents reported than other home games, the ratio between the number of incidents and the number of attendees remains low, Yale Police Department administrative lieutenant Von Narcisse said. According to AODHRI Student Affairs Fellow David Lindsey ’12, the number of health-related incidents on the day of the Harvard-Yale Game has decreased in the past three years.
Administrators have already implemented safety and transportation measures to plan for the later event.
Senior Associate Athletics Director Varsity Sports Administration Andy Dunn said post-Game bus routes have been adjusted to more efficiently transport attendees back to campus. Plans include staging queue lines for the buses earlier in the evening.
Narcisse said the three police agencies involved in ensuring the Game’s security — the Yale Police Department, New Haven Police Department and West Haven Police Department — will increase staffing during the Game. Narcisse added that additional police officers will be deployed to direct traffic.
The Yale Bowl, which first opened on Nov. 21, 1914, holds over 60,000 people.