Judging solely by the number of people willing to travel the world to visit an oversized set of stairs, Harvard is undoubtedly academia’s Disney World.
But for some of us, like myself—in the words of esteemed Ohio State alumnus Cardale Jones—“we ain’t come here to play school.”
Now of course, that’s by most accounts a lie. This week, I’ll leave the Square ultimately with what I came for: a plethora of free t-shirts, a couple super burritos from Felipe’s, and a degree.
Yet, while courses like “The Art of Looking” and “Introduction to Modern Irish” are sure bets to help me with my future endeavors, smart money is on much of what I’ve learned in the classroom to be forgotten (that is, with the exception of “Tóg go bog é,” a slick-sounding phrase that translates to “Take It Easy” and constitutes the remainder of my Irish fluency).
What won’t be forgotten, on the other hand, is everything else I wound up “playing” here.
Having grown up just outside of Boston, I’ve been surrounded by sports my entire life. In fact, the growth of a collegiate sports behemoth right in my own backyard was what led me to begin thinking about college in the first place.
When I was 11, I watched Jared Dudley carry Boston College to the the Sweet 16. When I was 12, I watched Matt Ryan lift the Eagles all the way to No. 2 in the country on the gridiron. And when I was 13, I watched Jerry York lead the BC icemen to a national championship.
The Eagles were my team. And subsequently, Boston College was my school. That’s why when Boston University won a hockey title in 2009, I was beside myself. And why “For Boston” echoed through my house years later when I pulled my first college acceptance out of an envelope from Chestnut Hill.
Nonetheless, this article is being published in The Crimson, not The Heights. And when I got to Harvard, I knew this wasn’t a sports school—a wild notion when you consider about 20 percent of the student body competes in intercollegiate athletics.
But college is what you make of it. I wanted to be at a sports school, so I made Harvard one.
During my freshman year, I managed to get an ear-to-ear smile out of Bobby Orr at the Coop, recreating the ex-Bruin defenseman’s iconic leap in front of the legend himself. Since then, star athletes like Richard Sherman, Andrew Luck, Landon Donovan, Larry Fitzgerald, Arian Foster, and Matt Hasselbeck have all passed through campus—all appetizers for the day I received a noogie inside Sever Hall from my childhood hero, Pedro Martinez.
More memories piled up on the athletic fields themselves, where I spent four years doing my best to pretend my days as an athlete were far from over. Opponents’ bones were broken and brawls were had, as I, alongside my roommates, fought valiantly to bring Dunster a Straus Cup. Alas, the mission came up short, but I’ll take my softball and soccer championships, along with my hatred for Winthrop and Dudley, to the grave.
Last but certainly not least, I’ve made countless memories as a member of The Crimson, having had the opportunity to fulfill a dream of being a sports journalist. Primarily covering the men’s hockey team, I’ve made it to 26 different rinks in 10 different states, I’ve watched my name show up on SportsCenter, and I’ve made some of my best friends along the way. Heck, I’ve even had my own personal Dan Shaughnessy moment in which a member of the hockey team considered a column of mine to be shit spewage—a surefire indication you’ve made it, if you ask me.
Now, I’ve done enough deep dives into The Crimson’s analytics to know no one reads parting shots unless you mention the name Katie Ledecky. But that’s quite alright, for this is simply my platform to reminisce and say so long.
That said, in the off chance a young undergraduate does stumble across this, know that Harvard and sports can in fact coexist. You just need to make it happen.
So what are you waiting for? Comp Crimson Sports or track down your heroes. Or please, at the very least, kick some Winthrop ass.
—Staff writer Jake T. Meagher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.