Tailgating, for those HBS students that spent their undergraduate days at large Big 10 and SEC universities, brings back fond memories. Beer, ribs, dogs, an open flame. Some would say that the bonds of true friendship come only after you have shared a tasty beverage or two with 80 of your closest classmates, while trying to thaw your hands over an open flame at eight in the morning.
Here at Harvard, we don’t have a glorious history of tailgating. In fact, “tailgating” and “Ivy-league football” are two phrases that seem inherently incongruent. Heading into the Harvard-Yale football game, many expressed skepticism. Despite an undefeated record of 9-0, there was a distinct lack of buzz on campus.
Fortunately for all, the day was a resounding success. Starting things off at eight o’clock sharp, the RC social chairs and a group of die-hard volunteers arrived behind the football stadium to set up. Materials included fold-ups tables, ice-chests, cups, a large stereo system courtesy of organizer-in-chief, Dave Battle (ND), and copious amounts of beer, booze and wine. When the volunteers arrived they were dismayed to find the vehicle gate locked and not a security guard in sight. Confusion and panic ensued, until Chris William (NJ) proved his resourcefulness, hefting case after case of beer over the fence into the arms of his fellow compatriots. His bold actions set the tone for the day: the HBS tailgating committee was not going to be deterred.
After succeeding in getting all the provisions over the fence and onto the field, the organizers quickly set-up as their fellow students began to trickle their way in. It was a sorry-looking group at first with many a student grumbling that they, “didn’t even get up this early for class most mornings.” This initial state of apathy quickly changed to enthusiasm as large throngs of HBS students found their way to the group. By 10 o’clock the party was up and running at full throttle. Although each section had its own table and an individual cornucopia of beverages, the theme was not one of exclusivity – it was a day for all students to mingle and bond, celebrating humanity and a rapidly approaching end-of-semester. The food, in particular, was a huge hit. Roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, brats, and pasta salad left very few hungry.
By mid-afternoon much of the student body had begun to head over to the stadium to catch a few minutes of the football game. Many a student expressed incredulity that there was actually a game going on. You mean to tell me that Harvard has a football team!!?? However, with Harvard comfortably ahead the opportunity to revel in the day’s festivities and taunt the Yale alumni filing out of the stadium proved irresistible. HBS students held their heads high – they had honored the tailgating Gods dutifully and eagerly looked forward to next year’s festivities in New Haven.