Striving for Mediocrity

It wouldn’t be winning if everybody did it

As we bask in whatever glory can be got from tomorrow’s effortless victory over the Bulldogs, we must remember to not be too cruel to that breed of undergraduate, so faithful in their defeat. Yes, there is a kind of beauty in the simplemindedness that keeps Yalies coming back year after year only to face loss after loss.

And while their pretensions might be overblown for a second-rate safety-school, we mustn’t blame Yalies for their inferiority. Indeed, there is a complex multiplicity of factors—over which these poor souls have no control—that prevents their kind from ever surpassing the mediocre.

Though few people here understand the psychological trauma of rejection, the long-term effects of Thin Envelope Syndrome are greater than one might imagine. We must make an effort to be sympathetic to Yalies, who have the unenviable task of starting out college as a disappointment to friends, to family and to themselves. There are probably even a few Harvard students who would find it difficult to thrive after such an inauspicious beginning to their college career. And while the stigma is lifelong, Thin Envelope Syndrome is just that: the beginning.

Even for the few Yalies who do manage to contain their disappointment or even channel it into something positive—paint by numbers or whatever else they study over there—learning is difficult when you’re surrounded by urban wasteland. No one can study to the best of his abilities when he must fear for his life whenever he ventures out of his dorm. And who can fault sexually frustrated youth for being distracted by the plethora of five-dollar prostitutes who roam the city of New Haven (Might we suggest a stronger work study program to help keep Yalies strapped for cash from taking to the streets)?

Believe us, it’s taxing to have to repeat the facts—that the Yalies just don’t match up—again and again. Perhaps if they would just sit content in their number two seat (well, it’s really more of a stool in the corner), we wouldn’t have to expend so much effort. But the Yalies are true masochists. Nothing makes this point clearer than last year’s 37-19 smackdown. After an 80-yard drive to put the Bulldogs on the 5-yard line—oh ever so close—they tried for the touchdown. And tried. And tried. And tried. If there weren’t a limit on downs, they would surely still be striving for the endzone, and still ultimately falling short.


And then, there’s always the fact that even if Yale were able to defy all odds and climb that insurmountable last rung on the ladder of success, it would still pale in comparison to its Cantabrigian rival. Though sometimes it takes the fun out of competition, we Harvard students simply can’t help that preeminence comes naturally to us. And with an undefeated football team this year—not to mention the only undefeated team in Division I-AA—the prospects for losing with dignity look especially grim for our dogged visitors. The powers of the universe must have forgot to throw our New Haven friends a pity bone this year, leaving them fittingly with a “mediocre” 3-3 Ivy League record.

So men, women of Harvard, be gracious in your victory, for that is a skill we can ill-afford to be without.

And Yalies, keep your spirit up. Success just isn’t for everyone.