In our country, it’s been written, it is sport that is the opiate of the masses.
And Wednesday night—whether crowded in front of the big screen of a house common room or scattered amongst the swarming sea of wicked drunk revelers rolling through Kenmore Square—Harvard students lost themselves in the high.
Red Sox euphoria was a drug that did not discriminate.
I admit I wasn’t in the middle of it two nights ago, instead stuck typing headlines onto a computer screen, but I know what it’s like.
I know what it’s like to hug someone you’ve never met because someone else you’ve never met hits a ball over a fence.
I know what it’s like to walk through a crowd and high-five a stranger simply because he’s wearing the same logo on his hat that you are.
I know what it’s like to sit in a crowd full of people that you only know one thing about—that they’re there watching the game, too—and that’s enough.
I know what it’s like to breath in the thick, sweet tension of a tie ball game—the opiate, if you will—of anticipation.
I know that sports, as insignificant and trivial as they sometimes seem, do have power.
I know that sports can bring people together, and yesterday it seemed that Harvard knew that, too. The intellectual elite had succumbed to the “opiate of the masses.”
The day after so many students had gushed forth into Harvard Yard in a somewhat contrived, but still impressive show of emotion, the buzz around campus was all about baseball. The hallowed lecture halls echoed the voices of the Porters and Sandels, but the names of Ortiz and Ramirez and Cabrera and Lowe. The brightest paid homage to the best.
It was a strange day for me, and more than once I marveled at the irony.
Harvard has never struck me as a place where people follow the crowd or embrace something simply because it is socially expected. If it doesn’t interest them, they don’t pretend it does. That’s how I always rationalized the apathetic attitude of Harvard students to their own athletics teams, especially the good ones, the ones that play enveloped in history, tradition and ivy-covered stadiums.
Many will say that this week was simply an aberration. History was made. Of course people will be excited.
Well, three years ago, history was made right here right across the river, a few Manny Ramirez homers from Fenway Park. In 2001, the Harvard football team posted its first perfect season since 1913. But when the Crimson clinched perfection with a romp of a win at Yale on Nov. 17, the students didn’t buzz like this.
Why did the campus go crazy for the Red Sox, but not its own team?
Why did so many kids that have been Red Sox fans for about two weeks fight crowded common rooms and FOX’s awful commentators to take in the pageantry of sport? And why won’t those same kids, if Harvard is 9-0 this year when Yale comes to town, ever make it into The Game?
I don’t discriminate against those usually apathetic sports fans that got caught up in the revelry of Red Sox nation. My own brother, a longtime Atlanta Braves fan, flew up from Florida just to be part of the history, even though he hasn’t spent the last 50 years waiting for it.
To be honest, I’m a newcomer to the Nation myself. I adopted the Red Sox after my first summer in the city, the year I was 16, so perhaps you could even blame my own allegiances on circumstance.
But in reality, I think I am a fan of Boston simply because I’m a fan of baseball. Even as the Red Sox—a team built around slow sluggers that can’t bunt—eschew many of the most elegant aspects of the game, they are still today’s single best symbol of the national pastime.
And in the end, that’s why I love them—for the pageantry, the history, the euphoria, and the way they can bring people together.
Sports are my drug of choice, and I’m addicted. And Wednesday night, you were, too.
So I guess my question is this: why indulge yourself only once a century?
—Staff writer Lande A. Spottswood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears on alternate Fridays.