Somewhere between a big game and outright war falls The Game. More than what transpired on the football field mattered to the hordes of Yalies who swarmed Cambridge this weekend, and to their Harvard hosts, who grew pleasantly indignant following a disappointing 14-0 shutout at the hands of a bullish Bulldog squad.
Perhaps it was the fact that The Game was televised by ABC, or perhaps it was the fact that the Ivy League title was at stake, but most likely, the enthusiasm surrounding the tilt was derived from the time-honored, quaint tradition.
The Game on the field was the centerpiece of the showdown, yes, but the battle in the bleachers proved every bit as intense, a sort of telepathic war of wits, one side of the Stadium trying to disprove its inferiority complex, the other trying to convey the impression that regardless of the outcome, one team still goes to Yale.
Saturday's Game erupted in short spurts, exciting plays sprinkled through a generally thick flow of action. As the wind whipped the partisans into a chilly, drunken numbness, attention wandered away from the field. The television commercial breaks didn't help the spectators stay comfortable, but the revenue will doubtless sweeten the Ivy pot.
The mere trooping of 41,000 sophisticates to a football game never fails to boggle the imagination of Ivy Leaguers who make it a practice to deprecate the sport as base and beastly. But many of those cynics were there Saturday, not wanting to miss It, whatever It is.
And as the hopes of the Crimson gridders set with the sun, many Harvard fans felt little pain, as The Event carried a momentum of its own, spilling off the field and into the reunions, the parties, the bars. Yale was in town for its bi-annual visit, and if ever there was an excuse to make an absolute fool of yourself, this was it. Many of the Crimson and the Blue came through, admirably.