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Editorial: More than a football game

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“You don’t even tailgate?! What kind of Division 1 school doesn’t have tailgates?” 

Depending on where your friends go to school, this dialogue may sound annoyingly familiar to you. As Lehigh students, we often find ourselves desperately attempting to convince our friends who attend bigger schools that, “We’re fun too!” 

Sure, our school color is a neutral brown and our Saturdays consist of MoCos rather than sports-centered tailgates. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have spirit. 

The Le-Laf rivalry, dating back to 1884, is our best chance to show our pride and prove the Badgers and Wolverines wrong. It’s the annual event that rallies us, from near and far, in support of our alma mater. 

Even so, many students don’t even go to the football game, instead choosing to tailgate outside Goodman Stadium and then keep the celebration going off campus. Some don’t even know the score until the following day. 

Sports fanatics may argue this mentality is counterintuitive. It seems a bit ironic that a week-long build-up to the rivalry football game would conclude with few people even attending the event itself.

But Le-Laf is so much more than an athletic rivalry.

We heard about Le-Laf when we toured campus for the first time, and we hold it close to our hearts long after we graduate. From bed races to banner decorating, the festivities last much longer than just a 3-hour football game. 

Countless alumni return to campus for this event, excited to take a break from their repetitive routines to reminisce on their college experiences. Le-Laf gives prior students from all walks of life, whether they be recent graduates still navigating their way in the workplace or established professionals with families, an excuse to return to this picturesque city. 

I know what you’re thinking. Bethlehem doesn’t necessarily have the same allure as cities like New York City or Philadelphia — so why come back? That being said, the high alumni turnout is a testament to our school’s impact on us not only as undergraduate students, but as people. 

Seeing these familiar faces around campus is a reminder that the friendships formed at Lehigh last far beyond graduation day. Though school spirit isn’t necessarily felt throughout the entire year, the sense of camaraderie persists longer than most may expect it to.  

There is something special about this one weekend, regardless of who you are or what you care about. 

Whether you are a football enthusiast, a student eager to support your friend in the Marching 97 or simply someone who wants an excuse to partake in the “10-day challenge,” Le-Laf week offers something for everyone. 

It’s hard to remain apathetic, no matter who you are. With Le-Laf banners strung across campus buildings and off-campus housing units, the genuine excitement feels palpable during this weekend in November. 

Many Division 1 schools center their spirit on sports, and students’ morale is dependent on the scoreboard. A win may result in celebration, but a loss could lead to devastation. 

Since the root of Lehigh’s school spirit is less sports related, it has more staying power, in a sense. We love our school consistently, and our pride doesn’t fluctuate based on how a given sports team is performing. 

The truth is that our stadiums may never be as filled as those during the Wisconsin-Michigan game, and we may not wake up every Saturday morning at 7 a.m. to “jump around” in red and white apparel. 

Even so, there is something special about Le-Laf, and something unique about the fact that we don’t celebrate like this every weekend. 

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1 Comment

  1. Wonderful article. I graduated in 1976 and still receive comments about the game from strangers who see me in my Lehigh sweatshirt or good natured kidding from my Lafayette friends. It is a tradition that lasts a lifetime.

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