Watching the Super Bowl: A Constitutional Right

True 'Blewski

If you find your constitutional rights being violated this weekend, call Alan Dershowitz. But do yourself a favor and wait until Monday.

"I never take business calls during the Super Bowl," says Dershowitz, the famed constitutional defense attorney and Harvard law professor. "I'm not going to let business interfere...I know where my priorities lie."

Except for a sudden dash across the sky by Halley's comet--which appears about as often as the Patriots do in the Super Bowl--not much is going to deter 90 million Americans from watching the big game this Sunday.

But here at Harvard, in the company of educated men and women, football obviously takes a back seat to...

"Nothing," says Ann Wacker, a Cabot House associate and wife of UHS director Dr. Warren Wacker.

Well I guess I can understand their excitement over Sunday's Super Bowl. Dr. Wacker rooted for the Patriots way back in 1960 when the team entered Nickerson Field for the first time, and he and his wife have waited a long time for Patriots success. And Mrs. Wacker, who has seen just about all 19 of the previous Super Bowls, will be rooting for the Pats, she says, because she "has to be [a Patriots fan] to live in this household."

But at least Dr. Wacker has his priorities straight. Wacker, unlike Dershowitz, has taken a sacred professional oath to heal the sick, so he'll be accepting calls and mending the wounds of the ill as a dedicated physician should.

"But I can talk on the telephone and watch the game at the same time," Wacker says.

You would think that at least the best and the brightest here at Harvard can relax and put a single, 60-minute football game in its proper perspective.

"I get so worked up [during a game] I have to get out of the room to pull myself together," says Robert Coles, professor of psychiatry and medical humanities.

"It's the old underdog story. The David and Goliath story keeps working its way out," says Coles, a true Pats fan. "It's a question of whether to dream and hope the dream comes true or to be a realist and say, 'oh well, they're going to lose."'

Ah, finally someone who can take time out to wax philosphical and talk about the important...

"We don't answer the phone during the game," warns Coles.

But seriously, there must be more important things than the Super Bowl.

"A call from the White House--alas, I suspect I would take it," says government professor Joseph Nye. "It depends on what the score was. If it was close I would try to put it on hold."

I'm warning you. Look where that kind of sports fanaticism has led.

According to department chairman Robert Putnam, several government professors at one of the department's regular Monday night meetings threatened him with a no confidence vote if the session did not finish in time for the members to watch the Miami-Chicago showdown earlier this season.

"One of the few controversies in the government department that The Crimson has not picked up," Putnam said.

Though Putnam says that the movement was spearheaded by some of the leading scholars of the department (he would not go on the record with their names), no high level academician will confirm Putnam's accusation. In fact, Professor Robert Keohane said that it was Putnam himself who was in the greatest rush to get home that night.

Professor Morris Fiorina--a Steelers and Patriots fan--did say that he was obliged to sit through several hours of department politics and just barely arrived home in time to see the last quarter of the Miami-Pats Monday night battle, just in time to see "Eason throw it away."

With delicate diplomacy, Putnam may be able to get out of this mess unscathed. But with "a significant sum" riding on the outcome of Sunday's game and saying that he couldn't "imagine anything in the Government Department that could get me up from the game," Putnam is clearly not taking things seriously enough.

Unlike Putnam, Dean of Students Archie Epps, speaking for his family, said that football is simply "not our game" and added that he might watch the Super Bowl only "if I'm in town."

But those who don't care much for professional football should realize that even they must make way for the Super Bowl.

An intrepid Mather House resident invited David and Patricia Herlihy, co-masters of Mather House, to a cocktail party which was scheduled during the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, the Herlihy's had a previous engagement with NBC.

"She eventually had to postpone [the cocktail party] because no one was going," David Herlihy said.

Oh, well.

I guess in this crazy, mixed-up world of ours, the fortunes of a bunch of men running around in funny uniforms may in fact amount to more than a hill of beans.

Sometimes, it's a life-and-death issue.

Dershowitz--a die-hard Celtics fan who had never missed a Celtics playoff game--was in the midst of defending Danish socialite Claus Von Bulow against murder charges while last year's Celtics-Sixers semi-final playoff series was being played. The jury was out and was expected to return at any moment when the players took the floor for the sixth and final game.

That night, Dershowitz was at Boston Garden.

He went to the Garden, to watch his beloved Celtics, with a beeper just in case the jury returned a verdict that evening. A car waited for him outside the area to take him to Providence where the trial was being held.

It was a hung jury.

"The Celtics lost but Von Bulow won so I guess I came out even," says Dershowitz.