This weekend, scores of Lehigh students will pile onto buses headed for Yankee Stadium.
Our side of the stadium will be a sea of brown and white, close to 28,000 seats filled. Generations of past and current Lehigh students will unite for the epic 150th rivalry game against Lafayette.
Thousands of alumni jumped on the chance to celebrate the annual rivalry game with friends and family, some paying up to $400 for a sole ticket. To many, football, and the rivalry especially, was an integral part of their Lehigh experience.
For some current students, Lehigh is simply the place where they take classes, eat, sleep and have fun with friends for a few years. It’s a transitional community, only meant for a specific period in their lives. For such a small university, it’s strange to observe how disengaged so many students are from events that generally unite other campuses.
Football games and other athletic events have a small and dedicated fan base, but the majority of students don’t support our team until Lehigh-Lafayette week. Students might have their own forms of school spirit, but the one main rallying cry seems to be the mantra against Lafayette.
Even during Lehigh-Lafayette week, not everyone goes to the game, and still fewer actually stay until the end. The cold, November wind, impending 4 o’clocks, and the appearance of an inevitable loss to Lafayette all serve as excuses to not see the game through.
Add all that New York City has to offer into the mix, and how many students will stay for the entire game to cheer on their team?
The city might be a fun break from campus life, but it is always just a short bus ride away from Lehigh. The restaurants, bars and tourist spots can wait for another visit. The thing that’s unique to this Saturday in New York City is that we’re in Yankee Stadium and our team is the one that is playing.
Never before in the rivalry has the game been played in such a high-profile arena. This tops even the legendary triumph of “Lehigh Beat Duke,” and it’s a historic moment in our rivalry that Lehigh students will probably be referencing for decades to come.
Regardless of whether the game ends in a grand victory or monumental defeat, we should enjoy the full experience. Memories of this game will be retold hundreds of times. Those stories will be so much better if all of us stay to cheer on our team, which has worked tirelessly this semester in preparation, alongside thousands of alumni.
Sometimes a well-fought defeat is more endearing than an easy win. Sure, the players are the ones on the fields, but the collective enthusiasm of the fans plays a huge part in the overall game. We should support our team and support our school. The team with the happy, unified crowd seems like the true winner.
The Lehigh-Lafayette game is the one thing that really brings us together as a school and makes us focus on the fact that we go to Lehigh. With all of us thrown together in the crowded student section, maybe the normal Lehigh divisions can be softened. No MoCos costumes, just brown and white and hawks everywhere.
If Lehigh truly comes together this Saturday, we might realize how fun it is and come together throughout the year. Pride in our school and the sense of a shared Lehigh identity could work wonders for some of our issues with inclusiveness.
Games are social events that have few complications. Any Lehigh student can attend, and the games aren’t in any way controversial or divisive. There is no debate: You support your team, and your team is Lehigh. It couldn’t possibly get any easier than that.
So this Saturday, think about Lehigh as a whole. Look at the students and the alumni around you. Let this be the first of many similar occasions, even though it may be the last at Yankee Stadium. Then, shout, “Go Lehigh!”