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The Game: A Tradition Of Collective Action

By Sean D. Wissman, Contributing Reporter

For every Harvardian, there is probably a different "favorite memory" from the 1992 version of Harvard-Yale weekend.

For some, it might be one of the many pre-game tailgating parties where, thoroughly drunk, they taunted weak but intrepid Yalies with variations of the "You suck" theme.

For others, it might be the petty vituperation hurled back and for the throughout The Game between the opposite stands.

And, for others, it might even be the game itself, Harvard's blanketing defense and effective offense and Yale's irremediable tendency to choke-off key scoring opportunities.

But my fondest memory will be The Surge, the late-game migration of hundreds of Harvard students from their seats to the field in preparation for a little post-game revelry on the day's battleground.

It began with only a few brave if intoxicated persons, cascading randomly down the side of the stands and over a rail onto some flimsy, transportable aluminum bleachers.

But gradually it got bigger and more forceful, eventually forming an ominous bulge of students by the side of the field, dwarfing in power the sparse number of police officers assigned the impossible task of keeping students off the field.

After myself participating in the migration, in which my face was thrust into the back of a guy in front of me, I picked up on a conversation nearby.

`So Cool'

"I really don't know much about football or what happened in the game," a girl gushed, "but this is soooo cool!"

In a way, The Surge is symbolic of the Harvard-Yale series as a whole. The magic of the rivalry, at least for me, lies not so much in the particulars of The Game--the tackles and the touchdowns--as in the massive efforts of students, faculty, alumni and other fans on behalf of their schools, the school-wide surges.

These actions range from the spirited, reciprocal chidings of the Harvard and Yale glee clubs to the myriads of pre-game, drunken taunts between students to the ubiquitous presence of alumni at The Game. But all these reveal the same secret about us: no matter how much we pride ourselves on individualism, on the thorough atomization of our schools, at least once a year, we give in to a natural affinity for massive, directed action which offers no further risk of guilt.

This action is as infrequent as it is ironic; in fact, it only occurs one weekend out of the year. Harvard has more individualism per capita than any school in the world. But nevertheless, it is real. For no matter how much we might want to deny it to ourselves, we all look forward to the one weekend when the Crimson takes on the Blue and the College slams.

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