Not Too Different

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Some thoughts on acting “Like a Real College.”
By CHRIS RILEY

“I love the Game! It’s the one weekend where we get to act like we go to a real college.” So goes the refrain of the stressed Harvard students who has logged way too many hours in Lamont and way to few nights taking a breath. And that’s a good thing. The Harvard-Yale Game is awesome because of the tradition and because of the tremendous (unprecedented?) amount of school spirit. But it is absolutely true that one of the Game’s best qualities is that it provides us a weekend to “act like we go to a real college”…that is, if you define “a real college” as a place where you can go out both nights of the weekend, go to a proper tailgate, actually care about a sporting event, and not feel the need to go to bed at a reasonable hour out of crippling fear that your CS50 pset will be an all day affair on Sunday.

Whether it is because the Game is really that important or because we only have one day of class next week and professors are tragically unable to give us an unreasonable amount of reading (or both), the Game is a great way to unwind before Thanksgiving, reading period, and final exams. And I’m all for labeling it as a time to act like we go to “a real college.” But ESPN’s College GameDay will be at Harvard-Yale this weekend (which is awesome if, like me, you used College GameDay as an excuse not to do homework on Saturday mornings in highschool…and college). And I am 100% certain that somewhere, in some comment section, some urchins from the darkest corners of the Internet are going to take shots at Harvard. Some Alabama fan is going to have an eAneurism because the sacred College GameDay is not being held at an SEC school (or even a PAC-12…I mean an Ivy?!?!). Some commenter is going to wonder why those nerds in Massachusetts are pretending that they know anything about football.

All that misplaced, comment-section vitriol is fine. And frankly it’s hilarious. Hopefully no Harvard student will take it seriously and will shrug it off and remember how fun Harvard-Yale was this year. Maybe if we’re lucky On Harvard Time will do a topical crowdsourcing video where they ask students what a defensive back is and record all the hilarious, definitely not staged responses. But I think that it is worth noting that when we say we get to act like a “real” college for the weekend, we mean we get to act like a “normal” college for the weekend. We get to act like the Harvard bubble isn’t about to burst because of stress, type-A personalities, and all-nighters. And we get to care about football for a weekend, and drink more than we normally would, and tailgate. And we can justify College GameDay being here because the matchup is so “historic.” But we should remember that the reason the festivities surrounding Harvard-Yale are an outlier and not a weekly occurrence is because we chose not to go to a “real” college. We wanted the Harvard experience, and we put up with the stress that goes along with it. That built-up stress is what makes the Game such a fun release, and we shouldn’t apologize for that, even if we are nerds who don’t know anything about football.

Chris Riley ’17 would like to apologize to any Alabama fans he may have offended with this article. He knows you know more about football and have better tailgates. He’s just trying to make the nerds feel better about this weekend.