As a sports fan, I consider the week leading up to Harvard and Yale’s annual football clash to be my Christmas. At great cost to my GPA, these five days are both a holiday and a celebration for me. And much like Christmas, this week — and more importantly, this weekend — features a few staple attractions that really mark the season. Overly enthusiastic freshmen sport enough Yale apparel to make me never want to see the color blue again, fans chant holiday favorites like “Harvard Sucks” and “Huck Farvard,” and “supporters” on both sides get into the spirit of the contest by pretending like they’ve watched more than two football games since coming to college.
I also think it’s worth touching on another aspect of why I love The Game: I get to be a part of a truly tortured fan base. Like the Detroit Lions, who just beat the Packers at Lambeau Field for the first time in over 20 years, Yale has put together a little losing streak of its own against the Crimson. With Yale having dropped every contest since our last win in 2006, I imagine we’ll feel a bit like the Lions did this past weekend when we finally break through and pull out a victory. I say “we” as though I’m actually contributing to the team’s effort because, as all tortured fans know, there’s a certain bond formed in misery. Just ask a fan of any Cleveland team.
In the midst of the most socially and culturally tumultuous month I’ve seen since I arrived on this campus in 2013, I think that The Game does us a lot of good. Football, especially when Harvard is concerned, reminds us that we’re all on the same side here in New Haven. While Yale students have different upbringings, values and interests, I would venture that there are few among us who wouldn’t want our campus community to be a positive and inclusive one. The Game, for whatever football is worth, gives Yale students the opportunity to stand together and spend a couple of days disregarding our differences and emphasizing the one thing that unites us: We are all Yale.
With all this in mind, I’m more excited for this game than I’ve been for any Yale sporting event to date. I realize there’s zero championship implication for the Elis in this matchup, and I know we haven’t exactly dominated the Cantabs over the past few years, but just humor me and envision the possibility of a win here. Imagine grimaces of disappointment and sadness on the faces of smug Harvard alums while they silently drive their German cars back to whatever hedge funds or banks they work for.
However, sports rivalries aren’t only about bonding through defeat, or coming together with fellow fans to support our team in a victory. It’s unifying in disdain for a common enemy. While the cursing, shouting and inappropriate chanting that will undoubtedly make this weekend a memorable one aren’t exactly “decorous” by Ivy League standards, they mark one of a few wondrous occasions where Yale and Harvard students stop acting like such unbearable stiffs and start acting a little silly. The Game gives us a chance to embrace a rivalry, revel in each of our opponents’ mistakes and enjoy a little bit of good, clean hate. While I might have friends at Harvard, friends who are perfectly upstanding individuals, until this week is over I have about as much love for them as the Rebel Alliance did for Darth Vader.
Though I’m thrilled at the prospect of watching Yale grab its first win over Harvard since the Bush administration, I’m even more excited to join my fellow Yalies in the annual cathartic release that such a win — or even a loss — brings. As a Washington Redskins fan living in rural Virginia, I’ve always been able to enjoy banding together to for a little good-natured ribbing of Dallas Cowboys fans, but things are even more passionate when school pride enters the discussion. For one week a year, our entire school bleeds blue and white, and that’s something I find incredibly meaningful.
So, I’ll advise everyone to enjoy this week and to treat it like I do. Celebrate your team and, as much as possible, your school. Remember that we’re all on the same side. But most of all, never forget that regardless of the outcome on Saturday, Harvard still sucks.
Marc Cugnon is a junior in Calhoun College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.