Cultural Bias #78 – Harvard Beats Yale, 29-29

This film’s title suggests a review of one of college football’s greatest comebacks when (1968) the Harvard Crimson scored 16 points in the last 42 seconds to tie the heavily favored Yale Bulldogs who were ranked 16th in the nation. (When was the last time that an Ivy League school cracked the top-20?)

The film’s story is told by the players themselves, now approaching retirement age. There’s:

– Actor Tommy Lee Jones (Harvard ‘69) talking about his roommate, Al Gore.
– Brian Dowling, Yale’s quarterback who is the inspiration for Doonebury’s B. D. character, and known as “God” by his teammates.
– Harvard captain Vic Gatto, who went on to coach college teams at Bates, Tufts, and Davidson.
– Yale’s Calvin Hill who went on to NFL stardom with the Dallas Cowboys and is the father of NBA star Grant Hill.
– Backup quarterback Frank Champi who came off Harvard’s bench to engineer the comeback.
– Meryl Streep (well…. a photograph, anyway), a Vassar student who was the girlfriend of Harvard’s fullback.

As great as the game was, the film offers sociological insight into a fascinating time. With the Vietnam Way hovering over everything, the teams had veterans of the war playing alongside student protesters and we hear from both perspectives. I was especially struck by the “gentlemanly” demeanor of the players on both teams. We see:

– Calvin Hill politely handing the ball to the official after scoring a touchdown. There’s no taunting or fist pumps for the crowd.
– The players quietly and respectfully awaiting the official’s decision after a fumble, neither side frantically pointing their arms and fingers in the direction they hope the ball will be going.
– No High-Fives! (That hadn’t started yet.)

While football fans will love this film, it’s got a much broader appeal. Check it out.

Onward, Malcolm Gauld