The Big Game and the Rest of Your Life: Harvard Beats Yale 29-29December 6, 2015
For those of us who love college football, the end of every season brings one of the sport’s most cherished tradition. Rivalry weekend allows schools to end their seasons by playing their traditional arch-rival. For many Californians, there are two: the UCLA-USC and Stanford-Cal games. One Southern rivalry game, Auburn-Alabama, is such a hard-hitting affair every year that it has become known as the “Iron Bowl.”
For Ivy Leaguers, too, there are rivalry games. Harvard and Yale have played each other for well over a century. Despite the school’s gilt-edged pedigrees, they play hard and to win just like any other schools. Once upon a time, this game meant something to the college rankings. A wonderful documentary, “Harvard Beats Yale 29-29,” details the 1968 game. Even though the game was played almost half a century ago, the lessons learned in that game reverberate for the surviving players much like the facts they learned in their classes.
For the first time since 1909, both football teams were undefeated. Very much unlike the present day the schools were ranked in the Top 20 so the matchup had consequences beyond bragging rights. Yale jumped out to a 22-0 lead early. At the two-minute warning, the Elis were still ahead 29-13. The Crimson came back with a furious rally, scoring 16 points in the final minute of the game and giving birth to the newspaper headline used for the film’s title.
Best of all are the interviews with the players from that game. Now closer to retirement than college, they speak of the lessons they learned in football and in school. The game came at the end of a tumultuous year in American history. The sharp divisions over the Vietnam War led to a new term then in vogue: the generation gap. Even without the game, the stories of Harvard guard Tommy Lee Jones (yes, that one) and Yale quarterback Brian Dowling (who inspired a character in the comic strip Doonesbury) are quite enjoyable.
The best part is that the game was exciting. Even for the vast majority of us who have no dog in that fight, we can delight in the players’ memories of the game and the impact it had on their lives. “Harvard Beats Yale 29-29” will charm football fans, documentary lovers and anyone who still marvels at how important their college experience continues to be.
– Louis Burklow (aka, Hollywood Country Boy), Senior Staff Writer, Phoenix Genesis
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