Until Saturday night, I had assumed that the Harvard-Yale football game at the Yale Bowl in 2009 would be the best athletic event I would get to see as a student here.
I was wrong, and I’m lucky that I was.
The Harvard-Princeton basketball game at Lavietes last weekend was more than just a milestone for the school.
We know that the Crimson won its first-ever Ivy League title.
And with some help from the Tigers, the team could waltz at the Big Dance for the first time in over 60 years next week.
But even beyond the obvious, the game was a first—for me and for Harvard—in so many ways.
People were actually excited about the game when I walked into Lowell dining hall for a quick pre-game dinner.
Those who hadn’t gotten a ticket were scrambling to find the biggest screen that allowed for easy ESPN3.com access.
And it wasn’t just students who watched. I received a semi-regular stream of “I saw you on TV” texts throughout the game—granted, a few came from my mother—as fans from all over took an interest in the long-suffering basketball program.
Walking back to campus after the win, pedestrians broke out into an impromptu rendition of “10,000 Men of Harvard,” and perhaps more unexpected than the sing-along itself was the fact that most of the fans seemed to know the lyrics.
Perhaps most surprisingly, students didn’t get to the Pavilion on Harvard time. They didn’t even arrive at the start of the game at seven. The student section was filled 25 minutes before the game—commonplace by the standards of some schools, to be sure, but unheard of at a place where a 7 p.m. meeting doesn’t start until 7:20 and a 10 p.m. party doesn’t start until 11.
This was certainly a party.
As I settled into my 10th-row seat (a misleading name, considering I never got to sit) sandwiched between the women’s soccer team, my brother, and another Crimson sportswriter, I quickly realized I would have to tolerate a spot in the stands that didn’t allow for the most comfortable viewing.
The anticipation grew until the Tigers came onto the floor, and they were promptly met with a cacophony of jeers fitting a Richard Wagner rendition of Hava Nagila.
Whether Bill Simmons—in attendance and who once said that “the list of insufferable jerks from Princeton is longer than all the other Ivies combined”—joined in is unclear.