Editorial: Lehigh goes to the game

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White sheets are hung on the sides of houses everywhere from the top of the Hill to the bottom of campus. Black letters are spray painted onto the sheets to spell out insults about Lafayette students — everything from “Lafayette can’t read this” to “Lafayette uses RoseArt crayons.”

During the nights leading up to the game, we file into the houses decorated with the sheets. We crowd into basements to curse Lafayette and its inferiority. We fully embrace the rivalry for social purposes.

Even with this school spirit, attendance at The Rivalry game isn’t always at the top of the priority list for all Lehigh students. Our school pride should translate from the basements where we curse Lafayette for 10 nights in a row to the stands where we cheer for our team.

Because the rivalry activities don’t happen without the rivalry football game.

The banners are a visual representation of both our school spirit and our shared hatred of the college a few miles away. We rush to cram as many Lehigh-related activities into spirit week in the hopes that it will all culminate when we rush the field on Saturday after the game. The school comes together once a year to celebrate, and those celebrations should include attending the game.

The restrictions on tailgating at Lafayette are much more strict than those at Lehigh, but that should not stop students from attending the game. The six-beer limit at the tailgate for those over 21 is not something we’ve encountered before, and neither is the restriction on private buses near the stadium. We’re also not accustomed to cars being searched for alcohol upon entering a tailgate.

These rules, along with the rumors about breaking up tailgates early and not enough parking, have been an excuse for students to skip the game in favor of staying on South Mountain.

There is more to the rivalry than the tailgate before the game. Coming together with past and present students to cheer for the Mountain Hawks is the largest part of the experience. This can’t happen if students don’t show up.

It is almost impossible to get 7,000 individuals to agree on one thing. Yet it is probably safe to say all 7,000 Lehigh students, both undergraduate and graduate, have a strong distaste for Lafayette. Students, combined with the thousands of alumni at the game, all unite on one day to cheer for the Mountain Hawks.

Lehigh’s football team won the Patriot League Championship two weeks ago and is likely to win this game. Watching Lehigh’s team emerge victorious will be even more glorious because it will happen on enemy soil. Going to Lafayette for the rivalry is a first for first-years, sophomores, juniors and seniors. It’s possibly a once-in-a-college-career opportunity to cheer on the Mountain Hawks at Lafayette.

It is unclear when the tradition of spray painting sheets started, but it is clear when the rivalry between Lehigh and Lafayette started — it started in 1884 and is now the most played college football rivalry in the country. Not only are we a part of the Lehigh legacy as students, but we are also part of the most played football rivalry in the country.

Laugh at the banners, put on your brown and white and head to Lafayette for Rivalry 152.

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2 Comments

  1. It is truly sad that there isn’t a greater display of true “Lehigh Spirit” any more. The reality is that the University administration itself is to blame for extinguishing that flame over the past 20-odd years. When I attended Lehigh in the early 80’s, most students wouldn’t think of missing a Lehigh-Laf game. It was the biggest party of the year! The most entertaining part of the game came when it was over and the fans of both teams rushed onto the field to rip down the temporary wooden goalposts, and huge crowds grasped every inch of those 2X4’s and wandered around the field for hours until some students fell away (or were forcibly pushed off), then broke up the pieces to bring back to their respective fraternities to proudly display behind their bars. The fraternity with the biggest piece won hard-fought bragging rights as the parties continued into the wee hours. You might still find some of these historic “relics” hanging behind what’s left of the bars in the houses that are still occupied by the fraternities that built them and are lucky enough to have survived the Greek purge of the past three administrations. Yes, there were fights, some kids got hurt. But you can’t deny there was spirit!

    Today, much of what is passed off as “spirit” is actually a sterilized version of a tradition that was started and run by the Greek system for many years, then became outlawed, then appropriated by the University over time and remade under their own rules. For example, the bed races were held on the Hill (if my memory serves me correctly they were actually held during Greek Week – the last week of classes in spring), the beds were built by pledges (the horror!) with no particular requirements other than to be the fastest, and raced down and around “Dead Man’s Curve,” often steered by a fraternity Little Sister or girlfriend of a brother. Many did not make it to the finish line (wheels fell off, steered into the trees, etc). Dangerous, yes, but thrilling! The Hill was PACKED with many hundred, if not thousands of spectators! And no, Lehigh’s president did not push a bed in any of the races that I witnessed.

    In a similar vein, the bonfire was “protected” overnight by shifts of volunteers from the fraternities to assure that Lafayette students did not raid it and put it out. No food was served (we brought our own beer, thank you), there were no DJ’s, nor were university buses constantly providing shuttles back and forth to main campus. But we had great times then, and great stories now.

    School spirit cannot be artificially manufactured. It must be genuine and heartfelt with an underlying pride in Lehigh at its core. People are sick and tired of being told what to do and how to do it. It isn’t that they don’t have school spirit or pride in Lehigh, it is that they want to celebrate that spirit and pride the way THEY want to, not the way the school wants them to. The stark reality is that there is still a majority of students at Lehigh (and frankly in most other colleges and universities) who like to party and tailgate before football games. This American collegiate tradition has largely looked the other way when it comes to underage drinking by the 75% of undergraduates who are not 21 (whether the drinking age should be lowered, which many believe it should, is an argument for another day), so long as no one gets out of hand. Lehigh’s students, arguably among the smartest and well-rounded in the nation, attended Kindergarten many years ago and are young adults now. The nanny-state mentality has got to go. As alumni returning to home football games, one of our great joys is sharing with the current students (Lehigh’s future alumni) our unforgettable experiences from the greatest years of our lives. It is very sad to constantly hear of the incessant crackdowns and over-reach of the school in almost every aspect of current students’ lives. MORE independence, not less, builds character.

    So shame on Lafayette for imposing the draconian tailgating rules they have – segregating the Lehigh from Lafayette students, searching cars, undercover cops, etc.… REALLY? What’s next – milk and cookies for the bus ride over? Why not just have the paddy wagon waiting next to where the students get off the bus? Great way to ruin our sacred rivalry! What student in their right mind, underage or not, wants to voluntarily subject themselves to this nonsense? Lafayette has always been a crappy tailgating venue, which is why most of my fraternity brothers and I only attend home games at Lehigh every other year, but this takes the cake! I don’t blame the kids who don’t go to Lafayette this year one bit. Instead of being corralled into a caged lot under the watchful eye of the Easton Police who are just itching for someone to stumble or slur their words, they can watch the game on TV, and spend their time enjoying the game with their friends the way they want to in the comfort of their own “homes.” This may not be what Lehigh foresaw over the years as they cracked down on the party scene, but it is the environment they themselves have created. The sad reality is that instead of integrating and unifying the campus community, these policies serve to further divide it as those who like to party must do so discretely or face sometimes disproportionate and unwarranted consequences, and those who don’t like to party are stuck at sometimes sparsely attended events . These parties and events needn’t be mutually exclusive, but ironically due to university rules many unfortunately are. Hardly the “inclusive” community Lehigh desires for its students. And although both groups may have incredible Lehigh spirit individually, the fact that it isn’t displayed collectively as a cohesive student body is actually the fault of an increasingly strong-armed administration.

    As for Lafayette, no mercy for them, ever! They have always, and always will, suck! Go Lehigh, crush the ‘Pards!

  2. Lehigh 45, Bad Guys 21. Times change. Expectations change.

    I recall from freshman year the bus trip to Fisher Field. Beat Lafayette signs festooned each overpass on Rt 22 between Bethlehem and Easton. Sporting events were breaks from the drudgery of the week and Lehigh teams were your teams. Their entertainment was appreciated even if the results often invited frustration. As the editorial suggests, back the team; they are playing for you as well as themselves.

    Tailgating was something alumni did. For the students there were parties. after the game.

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