I'll Stand By My 10,000 Men

Today is Harvard spirit day. Isn't everyone excited? If you go to the soccer or football game, you could get free hot chocolate and win big prizes! Or you could sit with several hundred other people and get cold.

I used to be big on that stuff when I was a first-year. I went to Harvard football games, and I didn't even need hot liquid enticements or band raffles. I just liked to go.

At Harvard sports events, I was looking for a replacement--back in Nebraska where I come from, college football is big. Very big. But I didn't think I'd be homesick for the Big-Eight: In Cambridge, I told myself, I'd quickly find the festive "Saturday means Game Day" atmosphere I'd known at home. I assumed I'd learn Harvard's soul-stirring fight songs (surely there had to be dozens), songs that would rival "Hail Varsity" and "There is No Place Like Nebraska" for punchy go-team spunk.

Though it didn't come close to Big-Eight Conference hoopla, I discovered that Harvard football could be fun. I was awed by the alums' brie-and-wine tailgate parties. I liked the crisp October weather. I loved the fried dough. And I kind of liked listening to the band, although I had trouble understanding the lyrics to what appeared to be Harvard's one-and-only school song.

An upstairs neigbor rescued my roommates and me from school song illiteracy. As a sax-carrying member of the Harvard Band, he knew the secret lyrics to "10,000 Men of Harvard." And so in the common room of Lionel B-12, my bandie neighbor patiently taught us the sacred words.


By the time hockey season came, we were ready. Whenever the band started up "10,000 Men," we shrieked the words at the top of our lungs. Other spectators started at us, rolled their eyes and muttered "freshmen."

Even later, when hockey season had been over for months, we considered using "10,000 Men" on our answering machine message. It would have been something along the lines of, "10,000 men at Harvard...want to talk to...B-12..."

Now a Spirit Committee wants to come up a new fight song, "a more modern melody," a little ditty that has a "more innovative style and rhythmic beat to match the musical tastes of the '90s sports fan," as The Crimson reported recently. A song, in other words, with a wicked groove and a beat we can cheer to.

I don't know about this. Sure, "10,000 Men" excludes women. Yes, the "let's stomp Eli" sentiment is militaristic. And in terms of style it's more analagous to "The Lawrence Welk Show" than "Hangin' With MTV."

But is '90s what we want in a school song? Say Harvard's Spirit Committee does go ahead and delve into the world of synthesized, syncopated pop in search of school spirit. What on earth would they come up with? What could I come up with, for that matter?

Icame up with the realization that Harvard digs Madonna. To really capture the essence of this institution, the Spirit Committee might consider something like the following, especially for football season:

(To the tune of "Like a Prayer"):

"Do We Have a Prayer"

...I close my eyes

oh god, I think we're winning!