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Three years ago, I would have been embarrassed by what will happen across the river this weekend. But as a senior, I am now immune to such feelings.
Dartmouth visits Harvard this weekend to play the Crimson in men's ice hockey and men's basketball. As usual, Big Green supporters will attend in droves and outshout the home fans.
I never used to understand why Harvard students do not support the home team like other schools.
Last January, Dartmouth and its seven foot center, Walter Palmer entered Briggs Cage and emerged with a key road victory. Palmer has taken his talent (and, more importantly, his height) to the Utah Jazz of the NBA. But Dartmouth fans are Dartmouth fans (and, more importantly, not Harvard fans) and they'll be back Saturday, hoping to continue Harvard's woes against its Northern rival.
The fan support is especially painful for Harvard Coach and Dartmouth alumnus Peter Roby, who has beaten the Big Green twice in 12 tries. The only win in Briggs Cage was back in the 1985-'86 season.
Lame Harvard fans used to bother me a lot. How could they have the best men's ice hockey team in the country and not go bonkers? How could the Crimson be alive in the race for its first Ivy men's basketball title ever, and not be swarmed by elated hoop junkies after home victories.
When I watch television or attend games at other universities, I see nuttiness that is shunned at Harvard. Duke fans camp out overnight for the privilege of making fools of themselves on national television. Penn State fans fill a football stadium every week that seats almost 100,000 people.
Even in the Ivy League, fans can be nutty. Princeton fans fill the arena when Kit Mueller and Company take the court. Penn fans throw confetti on the court after the Quakers score their first basket.
Officials and players from both teams notice rambunctious fans. But at Harvard games, the noise level is indistinguishable from a practice.
Duke fans never hear Bobby Hurley scream the defense to his teammates. For those of you who decide to attend the Harvard-Dartmouth basketball game Saturday afternoon (and by the way, it's a huge one), you'll have no trouble hearing Crimson point guard Tarik Campbell say something to a teammate.
I've seen a few attempts to rally support for Harvard teams. Enthusiastic underclassmen generally are the sources.
I've seen the `Big Guy' hold his sieve/funnel/vaccuum/black hole signs. I've seen three students dressed in gas station attendant attire. I've seen clown masks. I've seen bunny masks. I've seen face paint. I've heard loud, obnoxious cheers.
I've seen many bold efforts.
They never last. The soon-jaded fans get tired of bearing the burden.
I've seen them mocked. I now know why.
Harvard people are afraid to care about things in which they may not be the best. In sports, wins cannot be guaranteed. Crimson fans do not want opposing fans to have the satisfaction of thinking their school is better than Harvard.
Harvard is content with being the best in many things. Students do not want to jeopardize their position at the top.
What if Harvard students made a big deal about a football game and then the Crimson lost? For that moment, an opposing school could claim superiority to Harvard.
If Harvard students do not make a big deal out of a game, and the opposing team wins and claims superiority, the obvious reaction is, "So what? We didn't care anyway."
I won't be embarrassed this year.
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