For Southern Couple, a Glimpse of Rivalry

Husband and wife from Canton, Miss., pick sides in Harvard-Yale

A Canton, Miss., couple roadtripped to this weekend’s Harvard-Yale Game—on a whim.

Tom Butchart, who orders college football jerseys from time to time, purchased a Harvard one recently. When his wife, Diane, saw her husband’s shirt, she made fun of him “trying to be intelligent.”

So Diane aligned herself with Yale and together they decided to venture North for the game. Their trip has brought them local fame and for Diane, a ring.

When Diane saw a ring she liked at a Charles Street antique store, Tom agreed to buy it if her team won.

“I lost the bet,” said Tom, in an interview yesterday morning before the couple left Boston. Right away, Diane extended her hand over the table with the ring on it. “I won.”

At the game, the couple sought out E. Daniel Napier ’10, a Harvard student who played high school football against their son.

“He wasn’t sure why we were talking to him,” Diane said, laughing.

Napier said “football is huge” in Mississippi. But the schools that Mississippi fans follow are not Division IAA schools.

“When they announced the scores of the other schools, we didn’t even know some of their names. Like Colgate. Where’s that?” Diane asked.

Although they were mostly surrounded by crimson-colored shirts and caps while sitting on the Harvard side at the game, Tom said he had “met a bunch of the enemy parents” at the Doubletree Hotel on Soldiers Field Road.

As a hotel guest walked through the lobby wearing a Yale sweat shirt, Tom called out to him. “Hey, I’m being interviewed!”

His wife leaned over the coffee table looking after him with a smile. “He’s talkative,” she said.

“We have accents and people start talking to us,” said Diane about the ease with which the couple had made friends during their first visit to the northeast.

But Tom said it wasn’t so clear that they were the ones with the accent.

“The one thing we’ve noticed about here, is that people talk funny,” he said.

About two weeks ago, the Butcharts attended a local political dinner and mentioned their plans to attend the game in Boston. Soon, they became local stars through an article in their hometown newspaper, The Madison County Journal.

This is not where their fifteen minutes of fame ended. As soon as they got settled in at the game, the girl sitting next to them asked, “Are you the people with the t-shirts from Mississippi?” Tom recalled.

“Before this is over, these might be $3,000 shirts,” he said.