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A Weekend of Wins

By Amy Y. Li
By The Crimson Editorial Board
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings.

Just over a week ago, numerous members of our editorial board joined the broader Harvard community on a trip to the isolated enclave of New Haven, Conn., home to our supposed rival (and favorite safety school) Yale. To be more specific, we finagled the 130-mile trip by bus, train, or rented car to watch the Bulldogs lose 34-31 in the last seconds of an almost four-hour-long game. The Yale Bowl may have had awful reception, but the Harvard football team sent a crystal clear message — go Crimson! And, as always, thank you Yale for setting up a perfect Harvard win.

Beyond petty rivalries, we are thankful for the almost surreal joy of the weekend itself. As a board, we have repeatedly grieved that and those we lost to Covid-19, from the tangible things like time on a physical campus, to the abstract friendships and goodbyes. The Harvard-Yale weekend, however, offered some much-needed respite. Arguably everyone who attended — yes, even those donning those weird blue sweaters — won that day. From the forgotten joys of sharing a physical space, to bonding with complete strangers over witty chants, the game helped make our weird, Covid-defined collection of class years feel like a unified community again.

We are almost embarrassed to admit how much we needed a spirit-lifting, Harvard-beats-Yale weekend after the abundant personal and public misery that has characterized the past year and a half. But we did, and badly.

New Haven, of all places, made Harvard feel like home. For the very first time since March 10, 2020, we lived through an event that seemed almost untainted by the pandemic, despite the restrictions enforced by both universities; being inside a stadium with tens of thousands of people certainly helped. The casual, serendipitous run-ins with friendly faces reminded us of what we sorely ached for while at home, of the value of feeling known and seen and loved in a shared space.

Yet the Game also felt, in some ways, radically different than before. From the crowded tailgates to the field-storming, socialization at the game was broader and more inclusive in character — a trend that we hope remains a staple of future campus social life. For our peers who never before experienced a full-density campus and those who were evicted from it on March 10 alike, the game was profoundly reassuring, proof that not all fun times died with the turn of the decade. The synchronous, cautious suggestion from University Provost Alan M. Garber ‘76 that pandemic-related restrictions might ease next term only adds to our general feeling of triumphant return.

That’s not to say the pandemic is over or that we expect a complete return to normal — recent developments highlight just how unlikely that is in the immediate short term. But it does mean that we feel, for the first time, vindicated in our optimism, certain about our ability to find some light while trudging through the tunnel. For that alone, we are grateful — particularly to the wonderful, impressively talented athletes who dragged us all to enemy territory and boosted our school spirit with their win.

Harvesting that optimism — directing the positive buzz of our newly strengthened appreciation for each other's company — will be crucial in the spring. We have now seen what Harvard can look like at its best: inclusive, comfortable, fun. Simply put, our togetherness is uniquely powerful. There’s no reason to confine it to the time we spend away from campus, in some godforsaken Connecticut hamlet. The pandemic break in social life gives us a chance to rebuild and reimagine our spaces, to create a social scene that we care for, that serves all of us better.

At the Bowl, Harvard overcame Yale at the very last minute. In doing so it made us feel, in a cheesy, symbolic way, like we were overcoming the past year, too. Though we were not sure what the outcome of the game would be when it first started, and though things looked bad until the very last minute, our peers pulled through for a victory. We too are hoping to ultimately pull through after the uncertainty of that first March; to accept, adjust, and welcome a new post-pandemic (or, at the very least, post-initial-pandemic-trauma) era. Rushing the field to mark our victory was a run towards celebrating all the hard-fought victories, all we have weathered together since we first heard someone utter the term ‘Covid-19’.

This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.

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