Gaming The Game

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Match-ups beyond the field.

By DEVON HIGHAM

 

This upcoming Saturday, thousands of students and alumni of Harvard and Yale will flock to Harvard Stadium in Allston to watch the teams collide for the 133rd time. Though “The Game” refers only to the match-up set to take place on the gridiron, the competition between the two schools extends far beyond the playing field. With that in mind, the Harvard Independent takes a look at the extracurricular activities available to students the night before and the day of The Game, and decides once and for all which school truly has the upper hand.

Friday Night

Harvard: There are few nights on the calendar where the legacy of Boston’s Puritan past is more vividly felt than on the eve before Harvard-Yale. The final clubs close their doors in response to the vast influx of visitors coming for the weekend, and the nightlife on campus in largely non-existent. The Houses throw mixers with their sister colleges from Yale, but turnout is typically small and the events subdued. Some seek to circumnavigate the increased liability on campus by throwing parties in Boston. For those over the age of 21, these are attractive options and are usually fun. However, for those under 21, this choice is unavailable, as Boston’s strict attitude toward fake IDs inhibits young members of the College from partaking. Thus, how much fun you can have the night before “The Game” ends up being highly correlated to your age.

Yale: At Yale, the saying goes that “All Roads Lead to Toad’s,” referring to the large nightclub located near the campus. While this is the highlight of the Friday night at Yale, there are other options aside from just this one. Many of Yale’s fraternities open up their houses to Harvard students and throw massive parties. These soirées last well into wee hours of the night, and are replete with fog machines, DJs, and enough alcohol to drink to even the most ambitious liver’s content. As one grows of tired of SAE and SIGEP, it eventually becomes time to transition to Toad’s. This is the pinnacle of the night. All students from Harvard and Yale, regardless of age, enter the cavernous club and rapidly descend into madness. Though it is rare that people remember their entire experience at Toad’s, it is even rarer that the parts they do are viewed with anything but fondness.

Advantage: Yale

The Pregame

Harvard: The day of The Game at Harvard typically begins early in the morning. People congregate in their dorm rooms and wet their whistles before heading out for the day. Some visit the final clubs to continue the festivities, while others make appearances at their House courtyards. After a few hours of inundating the bloodstream with alcohol and building excitement, it becomes time to head down to the fields adjacent to the stadium. Here, there are seemingly infinite options. Students can attend the House tailgates on the tennis courts, barter for food with alumni, or join the student tailgates on Cumnock Field. The field tailgates are where the pregame reaches its apex. An endless stream of students jumps from pick-up to pick-up to dance and partake in the revelry. The festivities do not subside after kickoff, and usually persist until about halftime, when security shuts it down.

Yale: The pregame at Yale usually begins in whichever room you are staying. The drinking is somewhat subdued during this period, as students devote most of their time to locating their friends and devising a plan for the day. The day does not truly begin in earnest until students make their way down toward the Yale Bowl. This is not so easy a task as one might think. Two and a half miles separate Yale’s Old Campus and the stadium. This necessitates either a half hour walk or a shuttle ride in order to reach the tailgates. While this seems fairly straightforward, the process is a severe pain, and puts a damper on the morning until the final destination is reached. Once by the stadium, students congregate in one of the many fields for a tailgate experience similar to Harvard’s. Though there is significant distance between the school-sanctioned and unofficial tailgates at Yale, they benefit from a laxer security presence, and do not end until the game itself concludes. However, the inconveniences associated with reaching and travelling between Yale’s tailgates detracts is an unavoidable blemish, and detracts from the overall experience.

Advantage: Harvard

The Game Itself

Harvard: It should be noted that the quality of the game is very much dependent on its stakes, and whether the championship is in reach for either team. That said, there are important differences between the stadiums that impact the viewing experience. Harvard’s stadium is significantly smaller than Yale’s. If this were a comparison between football powerhouses such as Michigan and Ohio State, this would be a disadvantage. However, this actually puts Harvard in a superior position to its New Haven counterpart. The smaller size means that the stadium can be fully filled for The Game, and that its importance can be reflected in its lack of empty seats. However, the act of actually sitting through “The Game” is a somewhat painful experience. Though the concrete seats conjure up images of the Roman Coliseum, the aesthetic joy erodes in direct proportion to the seat of one’s pants over the course of the three-hour game. Students often find themselves visiting the vendors housed within the stadium in response to their hard-drunk hunger as well as their need to escape the pain permeating their backsides.

Yale: The Yale Bowl is a large stadium, on par with those of many top tier programs. However, due to the fact that the team finds itself in the Ivy League, the stadium is never filled. Even the most impatiently awaited incarnations of “The Game” do not manage to sell out.  This detracts from the experience, and reminds attendees of the harsh fact that the matchup between Harvard-Yale is now an afterthought, and a far cry from the 1920 game that drew 80,000. Despite the Yale Bowl’s size it houses neither bathrooms nor vendors. Students must exit the stadium and search for the sparse locations where they may nourish or relieve themselves. The process can take longer than one would like, which is the last thing that anyone desires after a long, booze-fueled day of football and its myriad gifts.

Advantage: Harvard

Therefore as both teams and fans prepare for The Game and we take a look at our chances this year, Harvard-Yale comparisons abound. These lineups may be a little redundant with the current 10-year streak, but even Harvard students need a little affirmation sometimes!

Devon Higham ([email protected]) sees the advantage as clearly Harvard’s on and off the football field.