Call it "in house," call me "overindulgent," but this is a column that has to be written--at least before Commencement.
You see, in less than three weeks Michael K. Savit will have penned his last piece as an undergraduate sportswriter for The Crimson. This may seem trite amidst review sections and all-nighters in the dining hall, and probably will continue to seem so until you pick up The Crimson at breakfast next September and find little to refresh you.
Because if anything else, Savit was refreshing. In the fairly predictable world of Harvard sports it was safe to assume that a Savit account, a Savit insight, a Savit impression would always range far from predictability. Off-base sometimes, but ultimately he would always seem to put college athletics in the right perspective for his readers.
And with that tackled he would move on to sportingly convey Harvard life. There were columns on what courses to take, what libraries to study at, how to party without running into people from Dartmouth, and so on.
Irrelevant? Sure, but why not occasionally, to keep the sharp people on their toes and to poke ambiguous fun at programs and competitiveness that were incapable of definition, journalistic or otherwise.
But mostly, there were the lines, clever at first, outrageous in the end, that vaulted Savit to popularity and subtle celebration even outside the gates of Winthrop House.
In a column this winter after his controversial satirization of Satch Sanders, "I've been called everything, from malicious to a high school sophomore, which really galled me because I didn't even go to high school."
How about his lead paragraph after the baseball team lost to Holy Cross 21-4 two years ago: "If it was a joke it would have been funny, but it wasn't a joke, but it was funny."
Nothing was above satire, even sportswriting, as Mike saved some of his best barbs for his Saturday morning football prediction column of the last two seasons. Although never professing expertise, "El Predicto" became absurdly accurate, even amidst lines like "I met a girl from Lehigh last summer and fell in love. LEHIGH 52. YALE 3."
Savit called the setting for last, year's 9-7 football loss to Cornell "weather not fit for otters." He credited an overtime hockey win against Princeton two winters ago to Morris E. (Moe) Mentum. He wrote up a water polo match his sophomore year to the tune of Longfellow's Midnight Ride of Paul Revere." He had Bob Baggott diving on fumbled juic glasses, Billy Cleary saying nothing in print, an entire column on beans, and all those letters home to Mom (P.S., "Please tell Jeffrey to accept my collect phone calls.").
He talked of "the fans" all the time, and they were real, as if a cult waiting to see how far tongue could go into cheek, and how entertaining sports could be without knowing all the rules.
I know I'll miss him, not so much for the things he wrote, but the way he knew his audience. He was the perfect sportswriter for Harvard, and his subtle, careful wit shows the respect he had for its athletics and its people.
(I'll need the check by Monday, Mike.)