NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- In an age when major college sports are overwhelmingly driven by big money, the annual matchup between storied Ivy League rivals Harvard and Yale is refreshing.
The Yale Bowl, the largest collegiate sports venue in New England, opened with Harvard vs. Yale in 1914.
It's a heated rivalry in which competitors and fans wholeheartedly enjoy the spectacle for what it is -- a game.
With that in mind, I'd like to nominate The Game as one of the things all sports fans must experience before they die.
BCS football factories charge outrageous prices for tickets and require substantial donations to get the good seats. More and more, fickle fans behave belligerently toward one another. They smear players and coaches on Internet message boards and talk radio. They take the games far too personally.
Not so in the Ivy League, where people actually seem to attend games to enjoy themselves. Fans seldom engage in mean-spirited trash talk. You might occasionally spot "[The other school] sucks" T-shirts or hear a crude cheer, but it's clearly not malicious.
In Saturday's 124th meeting between Harvard and Yale, the Crimson claimed the outright Ivy League title with a convincing victory, spoiling the Bulldogs' bid for their first perfect season since 1960. Both teams entered the contest undefeated in Ivy League play for the first time in 39 years, attracting 57,248 spectators -- the most for The Game since 1989.
Harvard fans were predictably giddy with the result. But despite the significance of this year's matchup, Yale fans weren't crushed by the defeat. Disappointed, yes. But not crushed. Appropriately, it wasn't the end of the world.
The Game an elitist event. Fans tailgate, barbecue and play catch beforehand, just like any other game, and regardless of the financial wherewithal of many of the spectators, you can buy a ticket at the Yale Bowl for as little as $7.
The score was 37-0 at the time, but these Yale fans still had plenty of enthusiasm.
A few historical Harvard-Yale tidbits:
• The first meeting between the rivals, staged in 1875 under rugby rules, was won 4-0 by Harvard.
• The series was interrupted for two years after a brutal matchup in 1894, when seven players were carried off the field in "dying" condition, according to the Harvard media guide.
• Tommy Lee Jones played on the offensive line for Harvard in the famous 29-29 tie in 1968, in which the Crimson scored 16 points in the final minute, leaving both teams 8-0-1.
• Yes, that Tommy Lee Jones.
• The most total points scored was 64 in 1993, when Yale won 33-31.
• The Game has gone to overtime just once, with the Crimson winning 30-24 in triple OT in 2005.
• Yale leads the all-time series 65-51-8.
On Saturday, as in so many rivalry games, band song selection was likely a deciding factor.
The Harvard band helped the Crimson build early momentum with Chamillionaire's "Ridin'." In the second quarter, the Yale band tried to rally its side with Bon Jovi's "You Give Love a Bad Name."
Bottom line: street cred always trumps perm rock.
Thomas Neumann is an editor for Page 2. You can contact him here.