Wednesday, October 19, 2016

“The problem with winter sports like football is that -- follow me closely here -- they generally take place in winter.” ― Dave Barry

I have been having a lot of trouble trying to write about my friend, Ken.  I do a lot better when I think of all the good times Ken and I had together, so I thought I would share one.  Ken was an Episcopal priest and worked in development at the Boston University School of Theology where we became fast friends.  He and his wife, Pam, and Karen and I double dated and did lots of things as couples.  One day, in November, Ken asked if we would be interested in what he called a “monumental” football game.  In fact, he and Pam wanted to take us to “The Game” as it was known then and is still known as that.  We had no idea what game it was or where we would be going to see it, but we were “game.”  It was very cold that Saturday in New England, so we layered up starting with long johns and were dressed as warmly as we could be and still be able to walk.  We rode the subway to meet Ken and Pam and then rode in their car to the stadium.  Turns out “The Game” is what they call the Harvard-Yale football game every year.  Ken went to Yale so we would be the enemy in Harvard Stadium (see picture at the right).  According to the program we got (printed by Harvard), it is called “The Game” because of its “national importance” as if anyone outside of Harvard or Yale fans could give a fig, but that’s what they called it.  The stadium was built around 1906 and has had very few upgrades since then.  It was still impressive.  Karen and Pam were very not impressed by the number of women’s restrooms (about one for every ten men’s restrooms).  When we got to the stadium, Ken opened his trunk and pulled out hot lobster dishes and Irish coffee.  The man knew how to tailgate, that’s for sure.  The other fans were all dressed to the nines, except for the students, of course.  Well fortified, we found our seats on the 45 yard line with great views of the field.  We expected some very erudite and intellectual cheers but mostly the Harvard side yelled, “Yale sucks!” and got the reverse back from the Yale side.  So much for higher eduction and football games.  It was mostly a scoreless affair, so there were lots of punts.  Now almost every punt only traveled about ten or twelve yards, and after watching several of these, I asked Ken what the strategy was behind those very short kicks.  “Strategy!” he replied, “There’s no strategy involved, that’s the best those kids can do.”  He went on to explain that the players would be going on to become diplomats, ambassadors, doctors, and captains of industry.  No NFL scouts ever came to these games and with good reason.  Still, Yale managed to scrape out one of their few victories that year and Ken was very happy driving us back to our subway stop.  We only did that one year because well, because once is all a non-Harvard or non-Yale fan can take.  Especially if that fan really likes good football and well equipped stadiums.  Still, we had a wonderful time and were left with memories that will last a lifetime.  Ken was always smiling, that will stay with me forever.  I’m smiling now as I remember that day.  That’s a pretty good legacy to leave, eh?

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