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Bright College Years

Yale mascot Handsome Dan, pictured here at last year's Harvard–Yale game in New Haven, has yet to see the Bulldogs lose in his lifetime.
Yale mascot Handsome Dan, pictured here at last year's Harvard–Yale game in New Haven, has yet to see the Bulldogs lose in his lifetime. By Derek G. Xiao
By Kevin Bendesky, Contributing Writer

Editor’s note: This column continues a yearly tradition in which sportswriters on The Harvard Crimson and The Yale Daily News write dueling articles in advance of The Game. The column written by The Harvard Crimson can be found here.

For weeks and weeks, I had been preparing to take the LSAT in November. I studied and practiced. I was excited and nervous. But most importantly, I was ready.

That is, until I realized the test was this weekend. Now, instead of taking the exam, I will be doing quite possibly the opposite: venturing north into Fenway Park for one last go at “The Game.”

Skipping the LSAT for just one football game begs the question: what does it mean to live in the present? Is it disregarding the before, disregarding the after, and only focusing on the now? Can we only be present when we forsake our future and neglect all we have done in the past to get us to where we are? Even though this may sound like an apt analysis of my decision-making this weekend, I think being present is just the opposite.

For me, being present is recalling the memories I’ve made while recognizing there is an end in sight; it is intentionally marching — marching on, living life aware of the fact that the past behind us builds and the future in front of us shrinks. It might sound like I am talking about death. In fact, I am talking about something only a modicum less uncertain: graduation. Like death, we tend not to confront the impending nature of graduation. And, in our tendency to intentionally ignore that end in sight, the present can fly by.

Bright College years, with pleasure rife,
The shortest, gladdest years of life;
How swiftly are ye gliding by!
Oh, why doth time so quickly fly?

And that makes sense. When we all arrived at Yale, we had what seemed like an infinite number of college days left.

But one event forces us to remember how ephemeral our time in college really is: the Yale–Harvard football game. Why? Because we all knew, as the leaves changed color and snow covered the ground during our first autumn at Yale, that we only had four chances to attend “The Game.” As a freshman, it reminded us of how little time we have in college. And for seniors, like me, it reminds us of how little time we have left.

Though many seniors, like myself, might still be in denial that the end of college is around the corner, we all know that this is our last Yale–Harvard. The Game forces us to no longer shrink from that end; The Game, therefore, forces us to actually live in the present by highlighting our past and by becoming, in the future, the highlight of our past.

The Game highlights several of our pasts: our individual pasts, but also the collective pasts of our friend groups and even of our institutions. It is a game given import by our institutions’ histories and founded on 318 years of contention — 135 of which have spilled onto the football field. It is given weight by our personal and our friend groups’ collective histories as we travel to Harvard with the same companions we’ve accrued over four years, with whom we have shared three games already. We remember our collective highs and learn from our previous mistakes on these trips — such as taking the wrong bus, which also crashed on the wrong side of Boston; like fitting too many people into one Uber on the way to the hotel we forgot to actually book; like failing to remember, as we freeze in T-shirts in the bleachers, that The Game takes place while trees are bereft of leaves and the ground is frosty white…many mistakes I am sure my friends will repeat.

The seasons come, the seasons go,
The earth is green or white with snow,
But time and change shall naught avail
To break the friendships formed at Yale.

And The Game will matter in our futures as it is, in one way or another, the highlight of our time here. For sports fanatics, “The Game” is the natural pinnacle. Why else is it called “The Game?” But even for those who don’t like sports, The Game is a highlight. It stands out in its uniqueness as an experience unlike any other. It stands out as the one time we are all together in a single, closed environment. And it stands out because it is the only time we come together with another school, and, as a result, form one cohesive and proud unit in opposition to them — think of Harvard holding up its own collective “WE SUCK” sign. Thus, the memories of The Game are ones upon which we will all look back on, whether we’re sports fans or not, as bright points that cannot be dimmed by the refraction of distance or time.

In after years, should troubles rise
To cloud the blue of sunny skies,
How bright will seem, through mem'ry's haze
Those happy, golden, bygone days!

And so, we must make the most of it in the present by remembering our past and acknowledging the future. The excitement heading into The Game is suffused with nostalgia; this moment, a moment that will last forever in our memories, only takes place over two days. We will always remember storming Harvard’s field or stripping naked in the stands, yet it all lasted only minutes. In some weird way, the instant the moment ends, it ceases to be an instance at all. The Game stays with us forever. No matter where we go, nor what lands we travel, nor what seas we traverse, The Game will be a highlight of our “Bright College Years.”

So no, I will not be taking the LSAT on Saturday.

Oh, let us strive that ever we
May let these words our watch‐cry be,
Where'er upon life's sea we sail:
"For God, for Country and for Yale!"

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FootballThe Game 2018