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I fell into conversation the other day with a sun-burnt character who was dressed all in grey. I won't bother to go into all the details, but I easily recognized him as what Holiday Magazine and other publications have called "the Harvard man." Since I also attend Harvard, and plan to do so for at least another year, I listened with considerable interest to what he had to say. It was to be frank, quite unintelligible.
"We're in for a great year next season," this character began. "If Lowenstein can put on twenty pounds this summer, and if Moffie doesn't break a leg, our backs ought to be among the snapplest in the East, but of course with Godin out of the picture, I don't know where Stuffy will find another real stopper on the firing line. As for Bolles, of course, we don't need to worry--Jaakko has some very fine young freshmen coming up, you know."
I might add that I have condensed this conversation a good deal. But even in its original form, it meant nothing to me. Snappy backs? Godin? Firing line? I made polite murmurs of agreement, just to draw my companion out, to see if he would mention one name or one phrase that I could comprehend. It was useless.
And I walked away with a sense of chagrin. What barrier was raised between us? Why was it impossible for us to converse? We were both enrolled in the same College, and yet I felt as if we lived in different worlds. Apparently he existed for the various College sporting activities through the year (as a spectator)--while after making scientific excursions into that field, I have found it wanting.
In my freshman year, I attended the Harvard-Yale game. I found it interesting enough, but when the fans in my section discovered that I preferred to remain comfortably seated even when our team was scoring, I was booed and hissed from the stands. I never went to another football game.
In my sophomore year, I purchased a ticket to an ice-hockey match. I admitted to a friend of mine that the contest was rather exciting for the first few minutes, but I was forced to add: "When you've seen them chase up and down the court once, you've seen the whole game." An old gentleman (whom I later discovered to be a prominent Boston Harvard Club member) overheard my remark, called some attendants, and had me escorted to the exit of the arena.
These two cases should be sufficient to explain my attitude. I might add further statements I have made which also resulted in personal indignities: (a) "If you like baseball, why don't you wait until the Yankees get into town?" (b) "What do people find so enthralling about crew races, anyhow?"
Plainly, I am not "a sports enthusiast." And it is fortunate that Harvard affords sanctuary for that small band, including myself, which does not shriek, moan, gibber, or drool at the actions of local athletes. (I would like to make it plain that my group is not "intellectual," and that its scholastic average is only slightly above the average. My friends and I enjoy moving-pictures, ice-cream, comic-strips, and in most other respects are Typically American.)
We feel that although the authorities cannot be accused of "overemphasizing" sports, there is a regrettable overemphasis on the subject in the minds of people like "the Harvard man" of whom I spoke earlier. Moreover, there is a distressing number of these "Harvard men," although many of them cannot be easily identified as such. Still, all of them, whether attired in grey or not, assume a cleancut, fanatic, and dangerously belligerent attitude when discussing sports.
I only wish that something could be done about it.
(The article printed above does not now, and never has, represented the opinion of Donald Carswell, Peter B. Taub, Charles W. Bailey, William S. Fairfield, Bayard Hooper, or any of the CRIMSON's regular sports writers. They left town for the summer two days ago.--ed.)
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