The Elis somehow did not understand their cosmic fate, cheering and rejoicing as Harvard threw Handsome Dan a bone in the form of a 21-3 lead and letting him glimpse what it feels like to be a success. But as all the optimistic little Yale graduates will learn when they enter the real world, Harvard will always be one rung above.
And then Yale’s lead burned into oblivion, not unlike the Sterno-lit tablecloth at the Branford College tailgate. After letting Yale have their pity points, Harvard regained its composure—it’s hard to beat a team over and over again without feeling sorry for them—to tie Yale at 24, and turning the game into the first-ever triple-overtime contest in the Ivy League. When it finally came time to handle the pressure, Yale did what it knows best. It choked. Pumped up and ready to go, the Bulldogs started the first play of overtime with a brilliant and beautiful, um, fumble.
While Harvard chose to squeeze some extra excitement out of The Game, this time as a missed field goal and an untimely interception, it was only a matter of time before Crimson superstar Clifton G. Dawson ’07 made it to the end zone for the 30-24 victory. As Harvard students stormed the field, Yale students seemed confused and disoriented, as the suddenly less precise Yale Precision Marching Band was playing a round of cheery music to celebrate the loss.
Of course, denial is one of the stages of grief, and it seems to be a popular choice for the Elis. Even the Yale administration takes part, as it seems the main reason for their having no school after The Game is so the students can actually have something they can hold over Harvard. Too bad that a few days off isn’t really an equal trade for eternal failure. The legendary Green Bay Packers’ coach Vince Lombardi said, “Winning is habit. So is losing.” It seems that Yale has taken the wrong side of the quotation to heart.
Two graduating Yale classes (’05 and ’06) will now leave the not-so-hallowed halls in New Haven without ever knowing what it is like to beat Harvard. No wonder the students seem to think their half-hearted attempts at pranks and taunts are somehow worthwhile—it’s hard to act like a winner when you don’t know the moves. Even the Yalie’s canine mascot, Handsome Dan, knows how to pick sides, choosing to take a stroll to visit the eventual victors at the end of halftime.
And in the stands, Harvard students yet again out-heckled their blue-blooded counterparts. Redundant shouts of “Harvard sucks” rang hollow against “Where’s your bulldog?” and “Yale starts wars,” the latter in response to the ridiculous halftime show in which some blue people running around the field pretended to shoot down a bunch of red people running around the field. As the sun fell lower and the kegs went dry, many a Harvard gent and Radcliffe lady spilled into the Yale Bowl to support his team, just in time to see the other side spill copious tears in defeat.
A tight game might have seemed unnecessary, but frankly, we were getting a bit bored. Pounding Yale again and again and again is making The Game seem like Pop Warner practice. Last year, at least the Yalies could deal with their depression by imagining they actually attended Harvard for a day. This year, the shuttle back to their own campus gave no such chance, as they were left to merely wonder why they had fallen so low. You see, we are only trying to help. Eventually, the losses will help the Elis escape the world of make-believe and confront the universal lesson that no matter what, they just aren’t going to win.