Yale Strikes First in 2000s

“We suck”?

It seems nonsensical to apply this phrase to Harvard’s performance at The Game in recent years. After all, Harvard football has beaten Yale in nine of the last 10 matchups, and current Crimson students have only ever witnessed Harvard triumph over its Bulldog rivals.

But for one moment on Nov. 20, 2004, Harvard certainly did suck.

On the day of the 121st Harvard-Yale game, 20 Yale students, led by then-seniors Michael Kai and David Aulicino of Pierson College, disguised themselves as members of a so-called Harvard pep squad. They invested in “pep squad” T-shirts and face paint, as well as 1,800 crimson and white posters. In a highly coordinated effort, the Eli pranksters distributed the posters to sections of mostly Crimson alumni and faculty.

Harvard fans were told the posters would spell “Go Harvard” from above. But when urged to hold up their pieces of the puzzle, the words “We Suck” could vaguely be read from across the stadium in the Yale sections.

The complex stunt certainly deserves some admiration. It was well-planned and executed and captured many people’s attention both in and out of Harvard Stadium, as the prank was covered by print and television media.

But Yale students seem to take obsessive pride in this momentary triumph. The prank organizers created a website, harvardsucks.org, to document that the incident did, in fact, happen. They even registered the domain yalesucks.org, fearing Harvard retaliation.

But is the prank’s execution really something to be so proud of?

The Crimson pummeled the Bulldogs, 35-3, in The Game. That year Clifton Dawson ’07 broke the Harvard single-season rushing record with a 120-yard performance on the ground. Ryan Fitzpatrick ’05 impressed in his final game before entering the NFL. The senior class sealed its undefeated record against its Yale counterparts. And Harvard completed a 10-0 Ivy championship season with the most lopsided win against Yale in 24 years.

Maybe the time, energy, and resources consumed by the practical joke could have been devoted to a better cause: the improvement of Yale’s football team.