Who's Number One Now?
Take that, U.S. News & World Report!
Okay, that was an immature comment against perhaps the most idiotic and overreported thing this century, but I'm feeling a little immature at the moment. We won, they lost, nyah, nyah, nyah.
I'm referring to Saturday, of course, otherwise known as The Day Our Teams Beat Yale's Teams. Men's soccer won in overtime, 4-3. Women's soccer won on a last-minute goal, 2-1. Field hockey won in double-overtime, 2-1.
Okay, okay, that was also another rather immature comment, but one can argue that the entire Harvard-Yale rivalry is one of immaturity. I mean, who should care if so-and-so's cricket team can whoop so-and-so's butt?
And who cares if this school can pretty much always blast that school in any sport?
Well, as a society we do place a high status upon these things, so I feel completely justified in acting like a childish jerk.
Eli! Bulldog! Lose, lose, lose!
Now that all those moral issues have been settled, we can delve further into the topic at hand: Why did all of Yale's teams wilt like the California Angels when crunch time came? Here are several possibilities:
1. The Dean Lewis Factor. While covering the field hockey game, I happened to see a solitary figure scamper into the stands. After a quick double-take, I realized it was none other than His Majesty Harry R. Lewis '68, Chief Maharajah of the College.
He was wearing a jacket and tie, which made him stand out a bit, but deans are allowed to do that sort of thing. Anyway, the field hockey team had a very slow start but slowly got better and better, and by the overtime periods the Crimson players were running around the hapless Bulldogs.
Then I went to the men's soccer game, which started about a half hour after the field hockey game ended.
During the second half, I mentioned to a fellow reporter, Mike Ginsberg, that I had seen Big Harry at the field hockey game, and he told me that Lewis was in the soccer stands even as we spoke.
And wouldn't you know it, the men's soccer team won as well--in overtime, no less. I don't know if he was at the women's soccer game as well, but I'd guess that he was--I mean, what's the point in only doing two out of three?
And I don't know if his mere presence was enough to guarantee Harvard victories. However, one could argue that with Dean Lewis there, the outcome of the game surely isn't random.
2. Football was at Bucknell. The Harvard football team was in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, meaning that a team which finished 2-8 last year was many, many miles away from the others, which gave them good luck.
Do I buy this theory? Nah. Heck, the gridders won 30-7 against a team that they lost to two years ago. Maybe if they had been at home, all the other teams would have won by blowouts.
3. This weekend was one of the few times that the Yale athletes got to spend time in a real city. As a result, they all went out on the town the night before and came back to the hotel real, real late and had bad hangovers. Nope, too stupid. Besides, they probably drove up on Saturday morning.
4. Yale is defined as being inferior. This is certainly the most appealing to me, because I'm a Harvard student and thus defined as being elitist. And as an elitist, nothing feels better than saying someone else is naturally inferior.
Is it true? Is Harvard just naturally superior, making these athletic contests silly jokes that Yale students don't get?
Much of the data doesn't support this. After all, our football team has an all-time losing record against the Elis, and Harvard athletes seem to think that games against Yale are big, important ones, which would tend to suggest that Yale might actually be equal with us. Perish the notion!
5. The U.S. News & World Report "rankings" were a clever ploy to build up Yale's confidence, only to have it be shattered on the athletic field. This makes a whole lot of sense. All three losses happened when Yale just didn't have enough guts to pull out the win--with their women's soccer team giving up the deciding goal with 11 seconds left, to their men's soccer and field hockey teams being utterly impotent in overtime.
So if there is any rule in place now that results in Yale losing to Harvard, it must be one with subtle effects, which are not readily apparent except when all else has been expended on the field. A false sense of school superiority might be just that thing.
And to think, all this time I was mad at that magazine. Truly, I am sorry.