I was never a fan of sports. I dabbled in tennis and dribbled some ball, but I wasn’t someone who tracked sports schedules or flaunted my loyalty to any team. So when my friends asked me if I wanted to attend the Princeton-Harvard football game at Powers Field last October, I didn’t offer much enthusiasm. I had little desire to sit on the aluminum bleachers in the midst of a freezing drizzle for two hours on a Saturday afternoon just to watch a game I didn’t know about until the morning of. However, despite my complaints, my friends dragged me to the football stadium where I ended up truly feeling like a Princetonian for the first time.
I think what first surprised me was the sheer number of fans who were there. A vast sea of orange and black crowded the bleachers, in which current undergraduates, alumni and their families all unified together that day to watch this anticipated game. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but this was one of the most pivotal games of the season due to the long-standing football rivalry between Harvard and Princeton which began with the first collegiate meeting in 1877. And not to mention, Princeton has a tradition of holding a huge bonfire on Cannon Green at the end of the football season if we defeated both Harvard and Yale that year. A lot was riding on this game, and the excitement and tension that surrounded the stadium was almost tangible at that moment, as the players on both teams streamed out onto the turf and the cheerleaders fluffed their pom-poms.
When Princeton scored the first touchdown, putting us in the lead, a rush of pride surged through me that could not compare to any inkling of sentiment I may have felt for any other team. My friends and I leaped to our feet, unabashedly rooting for the football team that represented the strength and endurance of the University. It was like a wave of emotion that swept through the stadium, and that was the defining moment that confirmed my sense of belonging at Princeton. We ended up squeaking by with a win against Harvard, 30 - 24, right after one of our defensive backs intercepted the ball, initiating the team to ring a golden bell on the sidelines to signify our victory. I had absolutely no regrets spending half of my day watching a football game instead of working on a problem set, and I encourage others to join me at a home game when the season starts once again!