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"The Game" is normally a moniker reserved for the football contest between Harvard and that "other" school. This label is sacred, such that even the outside world acknowledges and respects the trademark.
Yet, what will take place tomorrow in the frosty hills of Hanover, NH against Dartmouth is for the current Harvard generation to savor for the ages. And before blindly herding ourselves onto shuttles heading to New Haven on November 22--en route to watching a slaughter of a helpless, rebuilding Eli squad--anyone proud to wear crimson apparel ought to drive, take the bus, bike, jog or crawl (even hitchhike, damn it!) up north tonight or tomorrow with the intention of swarming the visitors' sideline and cheering the team to a tremendous victory over the obnoxious Big Green.
NBC has its "Must-See-TV" lineup weekly. The contest against Dartmouth is a certifiable Must-See-Game-of-the-Decade. For the first time since the 1987 Championship 8-2 season, Harvard is one of the premier teams in the Ivy League.
The defense is sparked by a chiseled group of veterans, while the offense is a youth movement at the primary positions. Other than a minor setback to Patriot League powerhouse Bucknell, the Crimson has experienced nothing but W's. And after last week's 14-12 squeaker against Princeton, it appears that destiny is finally smiling upon Cambridge.
Enter the Big Green. The returning Ivy League champions had the longest unbeaten streak in the nation--22 games--snapped last week in a lackluster effort against eminently beatable Lehigh. Embarrassed in front of its home fans, who were looking forward to a spotless record entering the battle against Harvard, Dartmouth will be ready to play.
Not all Harvard students realize the psyche of their counterparts at Daniel Webster's favorite small college. Whereas Harvard has Yale, and Yale has Harvard, Dartmouth also has Harvard.
While the average Crimsonite does not care about Dartmouth (and I have had West Coast friends confide that they were not even aware that it was an Ivy before they came to Cambridge), you can bet your last burger from the Tasty that a typical member of the Big Green association harbors deep ill will toward you. My freshman year--in a game Harvard won 35-12--I was nearly lynched in the Dartmouth stands. May I say, "inferiority complex"?
Allow me to demonstrate. Dartmouth began celebrating Martin Luther King Day a mere couple of years ago. Students attend a half-day of classes. Yet, for the past many, many years, the entire student body has enjoyed a full day off for "Harvard Day." Beating the Crimson dost a Big Green season make.
This weekend is also, coincidentally, Homecoming for Dartmouth. I have had the pleasure of witnessing a 50-foot bonfire erected by freshmen last year at this event; the students then proceeded to run half-naked around this structure in a scene eerily reminiscent of the "Lord of the Flies". Harvard Day plus Homecoming Day (plus Halloween) is a highly combustible combination.
The purpose of this article is not to scare you away from going to Hanover. On the contrary, the bonfire is marvelous to behold, and Halloween parties are a blast. New Hampshire is beautiful this time of year. In addition, there are going to be exciting women's and men's soccer games among league leaders. But most importantly, the football contest will feature some incredible fireworks, and will likely determine the 1997 Ivy League Champion.
So go, turn in your Yale envelopes with a hefty check enclosed, then grab a free Harvard-Dartmouth football game coupon and trek to Hanover any way you like to help the team shut up the boisterous hosts, give Dartmouth a losing streak and assert Harvard spirit like you have never imagined.
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