Brains and Brawn

Harvard's athletic teams deserve praise—and more attention

Rejoice! As we approach Commencement, we celebrate our warriors in Crimson garb. The Department of Harvard Athletics (XXXXL) will have a record-tying 14 new trophies to polish on its mantle after the most successful season in fair Harvard’s history. With their victory over Princeton, ironically the school which previously held sole claim to the record for Ivy League championships, the men’s heavyweight crew team placed an exclamation point on a memorable season which saw seven men’s and seven women’s sports claim titles in their respective leagues. The men’s heavyweight crew team’s victory, coupled with an equally impressive victory by its lightweight counterpart clinched Harvard’s place in the record books.

Importantly, one of the two titles earned last Sunday came in spectacular fashion against our oldest and most bitter opponent: the smelly Eli’s. The ugly stench of Yale has forged a path of pheromones to the noses of the Undergraduate Council (UC) who took its cues from our superior athletics program and announced its secession from the Ivy Council. Superiority comes in all shapes and sizes here at Harvard, including in student governance, and we are glad that UC President Matthew J. Glazer ’06 no longer has to mix with the riffraff. Hopefully the Yale crew team is still somewhere, lost on Worcester’s Lake Quinsigamond, sparing itself another merciless whooping at the hands of its clear superiors. And if not, haven’t you learned your lesson yet?

All too often the exploits of Harvard athletes go noted only by their roommates, close friends, and family members. Attendance at most Harvard athletic contests, even of teams that are perennial powerhouses, is a pittance of what it should be. The achievements of Harvard teams this season are unprecedented. Two teams, the women’s volleyball and women’s fencing teams, won league titles for the first time in their histories. The men’s football team ran the table in league competition and became the first Harvard football team since 1901 to notch 10 victories and end the season undefeated. All this success should be an indication to couch-dwellers and nerds residing in Cambridge (not the ones at MIT, but our own) that Harvard athletic events are worth attending, and we have a program we can be more than proud of.

To clarify, the idea of the “most ivy titles ever” is a bit deceptive. Many of the ivy titles were won in more extensive league championships that the Crimson did not always win but merely finished ahead of other ivy brethren. These titles, however, were all earned at a great expenditure of hard work and dedication, and are generally only given the barest of recognition in this paper’s sports page or on the athletic department’s website. For the record, the Harvard teams that won Ivy League Titles for 2004-2005 are: Baseball, Women’s Basketball, Men’s Heavyweight Crew, Men’s Lightweight Crew, Men’s Fencing, Women’s Fencing, Field Hockey, Football, Women’s Ice Hockey, Men’s Squash, Men’s Swimming & Diving, Women’s Swimming & Diving, Women’s Tennis, and Women’s Volleyball. Congratulations to these teams, and to all Harvard teams still alive in postseason competition.

In related news, researchers at the University of Durham in England found in a report published in “Nature,” that wearing the color red in athletic competition is associated with a higher probability of victory. It is further believed that this effect is intensified when the color red’s cousin, Crimson, is worn by genetically superior humans. Hmm.