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Friends, Cantabs, countrymen, lend me your ears. Better yet, lend me one of those crimson-and-white pom-poms that the Crimson Crazies were brandishing last Saturday night against Princeton. Please.
In recent years, Harvard school spirit has lain dormant. More embarrassingly, opposing teams have taken delight in stacking our arenas with their fans.
This reporter remembers a raucous University of Vermont crowd that swelled the Bright Center two years ago, and exhorted the Catamounts to victory with cries of "Go Cats Go!" Similarly, the Cornell crowd--and especially their band--usurped control of Bright when the Big Red visited Cambridge this year. You could say that hopes for Harvard school spirit weren't exactly, er, bright.
But as I walked into last weekend's set-to against Princeton, I sensed that something was about to change. Two things, actually: we were leading, amazingly enough, and the Harvard fans were getting into it.
As the game progressed, I could see why. Things grew tense and exciting in the second stanza, with senior point guard Tim Hill yanking down clutch rebound after clutch rebound and the Crimson persevering to score on what seemed like every drive. But now a late Tiger surge rose up, penetrating inside and whittling our lead away with jarring dunks and lay-ups.
This was true drama, the lordly versus the lowly--Princeton, the tanned veteran of countless NCAA campaigns, battling Harvard, the gritty upstart. For a brief spell near the end of regulation, the magic seemed wiped away. Princeton grabbed a 62-60 lead. Yet as things headed for a repeat of Friday's dismaying loss to Penn, Harvard--and its fans--rallied in the season's finest hour.
Each Harvard basket made, each rebound snagged was applauded madly by the enthusiastic Crimson faithful. Urged on by the stellar efforts of the cheerleaders and the band, the Crimson Crazies made Lavietes Pavilion feel like it truly was Harvard's home turf.
Saturday's gem--an 87-79 overtime decision over the Tigers--was a resounding victory for both the Harvard basketball team and for school spirit. Harvard fans showed their resilience by actually drowning out their Princeton counterparts in intensity at one point.
Cheering insanely for a sports team is one of life's most sublime pleasures. But you can't learn it in a library or a classroom. You've got to make the trek across the river--and yes, this includes you, Quadlings.
School spirit doesn't have to stop with Saturday's epochal 87-79 win over Princeton. Harvard could even go as far as to charter a bus for students when its marquee headline, the women's hockey team, travels to Brown for the ECACs.
Now that Harvard has reclaimed its home advantage, it might be nice to start showing a presence on enemy turf as well.
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