Harvard Classics: Not Another Gen Ed Requirement

Basketball Club International

If you go to the IAB early Saturday afternoon to find a seat for the Harvard-Penn basketball game, you will have an opportunity to see the renowned Harvard Classics in action.

No, the 100 volumes of the best fiction you always wanted to read will not be acted out at center court; nor will Professor Emeritus John Finley deliver a lecture on the Iliad. In fact, you won't see aspiring Commencement Day speakers expatiate in Latin, either.

What you will see is bodily grace, harmonious proportions and a quintet of hoopsters from Harvard who embody the ideal aims of athletics--recreation, enjoyment and the Classical conception of a sound mind in a sound body.

The Harvard Classics, the self-styled "Vagabond Basketeers," are supervised by John Harvey, who handles the administrative, logistical and coaching responsibilities for the team.

Founded five years ago when Harvard's J.V. program was disbanded, the Classics now play a 25-game schedule against junior colleges, community colleges and prison teams throughout Massachusetts.


Each of the last two seasons has been capped off by international tours. Two years ago the Classics travelled to Puerto Rico to play the Puerto Rican National Team as well as a local penitentiary squad whose inmates viewed the courtyard spectacle from their cell windows. Last year the team flew to Portugal during spring break to play a national team made up of Portuguese All-Stars.

"The Classics' style of play is geared toward participation, enjoyment and high quality basketball," Harvey said yesterday. One of the serious sides of the Classics is their post-game awards. The Most-Embarrassing-Player-of-the-Game honor is awarded intermittently to commemorate humorous and "unnatural acts."

Dan McCarthy, the Lisbon Flash(er), agreed with Harvey that participation and fun combined with good basketball are the main reasons he played with the Classics. He also said yesterday "I have been able to develop personally. We've given moral support to needy convicts, and helped out at basketball clinics in Portugal."

In their most recent game the Classics defeated the Holy Cross J.V., 74-58, behind Gordon "Big Spit" Johnson's 23 points. Johnson, who keeps a good-sized chaw in his mouth before ballgames, hates to ride the subway to local contests because he can only exercise his nickname when the train stops and the doors open at various stations.

Saturday, the action begins at the IAB when the Classics take on Grahm Junior College at 3 p.m. Immediately following the game, at 5 p.m., the Classics will regroup and match up against Harvard's freshman squad.