Given the space in this section to say goodbye to my days at Harvard, The Crimson, and especially Crimson Sports, I would prefer to reflect on my hesitancy to say hello.
I understood what I was getting myself into by attending college in Boston during the pinnacle years of Boston sports. The Red Sox had broken the curse, the Celtics had rebuilt a championship-caliber team, and my roommate had an unabashed man-crush on Tom Brady.
Coming from Alabama, I felt there was no room for my post-90s Braves, my six-year Iron Bowl-drought Alabama Crimson Tide, my Jim Haslett-era Saints, or my total apathy towards the NBA.
And so, for much of my time here at Harvard, I’ve felt like a sports outcast.
But a magical thing began happening this year: my teams started to be good again. Sure, the Braves are still slogging it out with the Mets at the bottom of the NL East, but the Crimson Tide and the Saints proved they were the best of the best.
All of a sudden, I could wear my Mark Ingram #22 jersey with pride; people began to realize my “BAMA” shirt stood for Alabama, not Obama; and if I shouted “Who dat?” in the Kirkland House dining hall, I could feel confident that it would not go unanswered.
But more than a reinvigorated love for the teams I had abandoned to come north for school, I felt a reinvigorated sense of the diversity that Harvard brings together.
After four years at this place, we all become, more or less, “Harvard students.” It defines us for these four years: we are all taught to write the same (Expos), eat the same (HUDS), and sleep the same (twin-sized extra long).
For me, at least, it was so easy to forget the life I had before these four years. As they say, “These have been the best years of my life.” I have been exposed to so many ideas and opportunities, including traveling to China and Honduras. Harvard has allowed me to spread my wings further than I could have ever imagined.
But as I gave a knowing head nod to the kid in Winthrop with my same “BAMA” shirt, I realized my roots still hold firm in the red clay of Alabama.
I wish I had a more academic reason for arriving at this revelation than the resurgence of a few of my favorite sports teams. I also wish I could say this was an understanding that I had come to earlier than just this afternoon, while contemplating what to write for a parting shot. I guess, to quote that guy from the Counting Crows, “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.”
But that’s what makes Harvard so rich; that, although we are all encouraged to expand our minds and broaden our views, what makes us truly unique are our roots.
What each of us brings to Harvard is in many ways far more significant than what we take away. Let’s be honest, we’re far more engaged by a heated conversation with friends over lunch than we are in a Core section in the basement of CGIS.
So to future generations of Crimson sportswriters—of all Harvard students—let that be my advice to you. No matter what you may be leaving behind to come to Harvard, never let go of it. Because the greatest thing that I’ve learned here in my four years is that Harvard, while encouraging me to spread my wings, has also strengthened my roots.
—Staff writer Dixon McPhillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.