On this day in 1852, the first Harvard–Yale Regatta took place. I know: who cares?! I certainly don’t, except for one thing: it was the first intercollegiate sporting event in American history. And I think that’s bad. I know that part of the idea behind sports was to make colleges less insular. The idea isn’t bad: colleges getting together to do things. But the least of the problems at colleges is that people at Harvard don’t interact enough with people at Yale.
The problem is that sports became too big a deal. In fact, for the most part, college athletics now makes students more constrained. But even if the Harvard-Yale Regatta did bring students together, it would just create a different kind of elitism. You may have read about Ted Cruz, “As a law student at Harvard, he refused to study with anyone who hadn’t been an undergrad at Harvard, Princeton, or Yale.”
When I was college age, I was extremely naive. I thought that all that really mattered was that you were bright and hardworking. That really isn’t the way the world works. But I doubt that I would recommend that a young person go to Harvard or Yale. They really are filled with the worst people on the planet. They’re committing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. But that’s true of the University of Pennsylvania too.
Happy anniversary American intercollegiate sports. Even truly horrible things deserve to be remembered.