Harvard Turkey, Harvard Stuffing and Harvard Squash

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Today, let me just give a brief thanks to the Harvard squash team.

It taught me a small but meaningful lesson that I'll keep with me during the holidays.

You see, today marks my fourth year writing about Harvard squash. It marks the fourth time I've written an article about the Harvard-Tufts squash game. By now I'm a little cold. Hardened. Cynical. As seniors tend to be.

"What new," I asked myself an hour ago, "can I write about the same old squash game?"

The Harvard-Tufts game is just plain boring. It's boring to watch. It's boring to write about. It's boring to think about. Every years except one in the history of their rivalry, the Crimson has shut out Tufts. And year after year after year, I try to make the article exciting, new, different. An action verb here, an action verb there, a euphemism for "complete domination" everywhere.

One hour ago I sat here disillusioned. Trying desperately to find a reason for even filing a report on the Tufts game which Harvard (2-0) won again on sunday at Hemenway Gym--dropping only one of 28 games on route to a 9-0 shutout--I embarked on a quest of sorts. I decided to discover once and for all why the Crimson insists on slaughtering Tufts every year.

The question had danced around in my head for three years, but this time, I was determined to figure out an answer.

Thanks to the Harvard squash team, I got one.

I get it now. Yes! I finally understand!

The Crimson Racquetmen and coaches have helped me see the light: the Harvard-Tufts squash match is a Thanksgiving of sorts.

It's an American tradition. "The match is played just because it's on the schedule," Co-Captain Jonny Kaye said.

It's fun. "Most of the guys have fun out there," Tufts Coach Bill Summers explained.

It's family kind of thing. "We have a nice relationship with them. We both live in the same town," Harvard Coach Steve Piltch said.

It respresents an unquestionable oppression of sorts. "Sure, some of our players are intimidated and embarassed," Summers said. "They think they look stupid out there."

No one really knows why these two friends/enemies get together to embarrass and be embarrassed each year. They just do it. They just accept it ask no questions. The game is a kind of holiday in both team's schedules.

Perhaps Co-Captain George Polsky summed it up best. "The match is like Thanksgiving because the lack of attention to competition allows everyone to try something new--Jeremy (Fraiberg) puts a bit of pumpkin pie in his game, Farokh (Pandole) puts some gravy into his three-walls, Jonny (Kaye) serves it all with spice, and of course every one has a little squash."

Thanks squash players and coaches for helping me see the light. Squash can be fun. Once a year, Harvard gives thanks that it got a break from its grueling schedule of challenge matches, and Tufts gives thanks that it can just get the game is over with. Everyone goes home satisfied and comes back the next year for more. Who cares if the game is boring? So is Thanksgiving.

Maybe this all sounds a little sappy. But sappiness doesn't come my way often. I'm glad I learned myself a little lesson before leaving Cambridge.

Now I'll have a clear conscience when I head on home for a stuffed turkey dinner and sit in the living room to watch the big squash match on T.V.