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The Harvard-Yale football game last weekend had some serious problems.
Not the fact that Harvard lost. That's regrettable, but I think I can accept it. After all, it's only a football game.
The problems I'm talking about are more serious--bad taste and the potential for some serious injuries.
Let's talk about bad taste. My father always told me not to start drinking until lunchtime. But when the Undergraduate Council buses rolled into the Yale Bowl parking lot at 11 a.m., plenty of distinguished Harvard and Yale graduates were already drinking. And plenty more were already drunk.
When thousands of Ivy-Leaguersare drunk at 11 a.m., there are some pretty ugly consequences: One consequence was the line to use a port-a-john. Only someome who has already had about six beers can be as desperate to use a bathroom as were the people waiting on line. Another consequence was the condition of the bathrooms. When men get a little too much alcohol in their system, their aim worsens. And for both genders, the smell of vomit in a portable toilet is even worse than the smell of a portable toilet by itself.
AFTER HALFTIME, some of the Ivy-Leaguers who were drunk at 11 a.m. and kept drinking were in pretty bad shape. Such was the case with the young man lying on the ground outside Portal Four of the Yale Bowl. He had passed out, and vomit was pooled around his half-open mouth. His hands were arranged in a kind of time-out signal.
None of his Ivy League friends were there to help him. (They were probably passed out in some other part of the stadium of parking lot.) None of the drunk Ivy Leaguers passing by stopped to help.
For young Harvard graduates, this orgy of self-destruction is even easier. They don't need a portable toilet, and they don't even have to pay for booze. Both are provided in Winnebagos paid for by class funds raised their senior years by selling sweatshirts and holding senior events.
As a result, the scene outside the Class of 1990 and 1991 Winnebagos was positively sordid.
"I feel much more important now that I graduated Harvard," one young alum told me in a slurred voice. "When I was at Harvard, you know, I wasn't anything special, because everyone else there went to Harvard, too. But in the real world, you know, I really am something special, because I'm a special person."
How special. Mud-covered young alumni, drinking themselves silly, throwing beer on each other and then reassuring themselves that they are special. And then staggering over their drunken buddies to get to the bathroom in the Winnebago.
All right, it's pathetic. But don't people have the right to have fuin once in a while? Does the fact that someone went to Harvard or Yale mean they are not allowed to get drunk and do stupid things?
Well, not exactly. There are, however, some public health and safety problems to be considered. And we ought to reconsider whether our definition of fun includes lying outside in a pool of mud and vomit.
Besides those who overindulge, we ought to be concerned about those who simply indulge, and then drive home. At Red Sox games, they stop serving beer after the seventh inning, and the score-board flashes public service messages about drinking and driving. At New Haven, after The Game, people go back to their cars and Winnebagos and have another drink (or four).
So who drives home?
One option for those who didn't choose to drive home was the Yale-run campus shuttles, which took spectators from the Yale Bowl back to the main campus. But the physical risks in boarding a shuttle after the game were comparable to those involved in driving with a drunk.
There was no crowd control to speak of. One shuttle employee and one police officer were faced with the unenviable task of dealing with a crowd of about 1000. They couldn't, or wouldn't, do the job, and several serious injuries almost occurred as would-be passangers trampled each other in an attempt to board the buses.
WHEN THE GAME returns to Cambridge next year, Harvard can show its superiority to Yale by doing a few easy things. It can post signs and make announcements discouraging drunk driving. It can have trained and bonded bartenders at University-sponsored after-game parties--bartenders who know when to say when, unlike friendly alumni. And it can make sure resting-places anf taxis are available for those who drink too much to drive home right away.
And the next time the game is at Yale, the Elis should organize the after-game shuttle service better. If they don't, someone will get hurt.
There's only so much a university can do. If students and alumni at the next Harvard-Yale game want to get drunk and puke or drive home, they can. I just won't be there to see them, I think it's gross.
Ira E. Stoll '94 drank apple cider from the Undergraduate Council picnic at last month's game. He doesn't think he'll attend another Yale game for a long, long time.
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