Soaking Up the Bennies

Saturday's Sadness

It was too bad it had to happen that way. I wanted it to happen, but it still seemed an injustice. It's sad when Holy Cross loses a football game, because it means that they've just lived the whole week before for nothing. A three-man Holy Cross contingent sat next to me in the press box Saturday, and I really felt guilty that Harvard won. "I'm not hanging around that campus tonight," one of them said. "It'll be horrible there."

I arrived at the press box just in time for the "Star Spangled Banner." They'd been there since noon getting up for it. They had all predicted a win for the Crusaders because there was really no other way to consider it. This season was the culmination of their careers at Holy Cross. They had all lived just down the hall from quarterback Mark Mowatt when he was only a freshman, and they'd all been through the experience together, and now it was their class out there trying to make the big season especially memorable. In fact, they were so close to Mowatt that they had come to Cambridge that day in his car.

They were obviously important people around the Holy Cross campus. Their newspaper is a weekly, and the sports page is as important and popular there as the classified ads in the CRIMSON. They asked me if I had earned a big name by being a sports writer. That was pretty funny. They concluded what they had suspected all along: the priorities around here are a bit different.

There was another reason for sadness. During the last year or so, the faculty at Holy Cross has been trying to get football changed so that it isn't an inter-collegiate sport. The faculty was concerned, these scribes told me that Holy Cross would earn a reputation based solely on athletic prowess and not academics. This was not a good image to project the faculty thought, though I'm sure the students aren't too bothered by it. Naturally, they are bothered by the suggestion that football be de-emphasized. It's like telling Haystacks Calhoun he can't wrestle anymore, or worse that he can't eat anymore. What else is there? But at least it didn't look as if this revolutionary move at Holy Cross would succeed.

And Holy Cross fans like a particular kind of football-good, crisp football. The crowd on the far side rose to its feet after defensive back Mike Jordan collided with big Pete Varney, causing Pistol Pete to get up a little slowly. It was the play of the day. Of course, Varney wasn't hurting very long, but the fact that any back could hit Varney with such results is surprising.

Maybe Harvard should have thrown the game. We could have gotten over it quickly, and think of the happiness at Worcester. Think how much nicer it would have been for Tom Yewcie, former punter and quarterback for the Boston Patriots who was sitting behind me in the press box as a coach for Holy Cross. Holy Cross did not do everything right Saturday, and when errors were made, it was up to Yewcic to point a number of them out, which he did with gusto. I winced when Neil Hurley made that important interception because I knew that as soon as Pete Stratton, the intended receiver, got to the sidelines, he was going to hear Yewcic's opinion on how well or how poorly he had run his pattern. It was tragic.

While we watched the halftime show, we got into a discussion of politics, bound to be elementary and short-lived among people like us. They knew about Louise Day Hicks, so we talked about that for 15 seconds. Then they wanted to know if our jocks were politicos. I really wanted to pay attention to the show rather than talk, but they couldn't understand such enthusiasm about a band. So I told him some of the jocks were interested in politics, which I think is true. As does everyone else, they asked if there had been any action here. "A little." And then they said they figured that out in Worcester they were about a year behind those of us in Cambridge in activism. Holy Cross is getting excited about the Moratorium.

When it was over it was sort of hushed in our section of the press box. I almost apologized, but just whispered a "Too bad." One of the guys muttered something about being driven to drink and led his colleagues away.