It’s pretty easy to hoax people. We all want to be deceived, but only up to a point. Some hoaxes are fun and pleasant, others malicious and unpleasant. We’d like a way to tell the difference (Robert Carroll).

Nov 17, 2013

Yale-Harvard “We Suck” Football Game Prank


A little competition is actually a good driving force for positive development. However the competition that goes on between Harvard and Yale is quite traditionally significant.

Harvard and Yale are both historic colleges that have been around for a long time, which is another reason to this somewhat friendly and fierce battle of the Ivy’s.

Both are very prestigious schools, and both think they're better than each other. They both have secret societies such as Skull and Bones and have a history of Presidents and other leaders of America. Both are highly respectable colleges that are almost always named in the yearly list of best colleges in college rankings year after year. What makes them prestigious is how elite they are, as they are a couple of the hardest schools to get into period.

And every year, the hard-working students of Harvard and Yale shut their books for a weekend and loosen up by tailgating, watching football, enjoying the tradition of the 129-year rivalry—and oh yes, pulling pranks.

We Suck

The 2004 Harvard–Yale prank was a practical joke performed on November 20, 2004, at the annual Harvard–Yale football game in which Yale students, costumed as a Harvard "pep squad," perpetrated a card stunt. They gave out placards to a section of Harvard fans which, when raised together, read "WE SUCK."

The stunt was conceived and coordinated by Michael Kai and David Aulicino, two Yale students in the Class of 2005, and was executed with the help of 20 classmates. Disguised as the "Harvard Pep Squad," the perpetrators handed white and crimson placards to fans—mostly Harvard alumni, with a few faculty, students, and others—in the central area of the Harvard side of the stadium. The group told the crowd that by lifting the placards they would spell "GO HARVARD."

Most Harvard students, sitting in a section off to the side of the alumni area where the prank was executed, left the stands unaware of the prank; however, players on the field did see the placards. Harvard won the game, 35–3.

Other pranks

The outstanding prank, mentioned above was not the only, and even not the first practical joke which was carefully perpetrated by elite students, and the Game has long provided an opportunity for pranksters to make their mark on the rivalry. For example, the Harvard Lampoon kidnapped Handsome Dan II, Yale’s mascot, prior to the 1933 Game. Photographs later showed the bulldog licking the feet of the John Harvard Statue (after slabs of meat had been smeared on them).

In 1961, The Crimson handed out a parody of The Yale Daily News indicating that President John F. Kennedy ‘40 would be at the game in New Haven. At The Game, Robert Ellis Smith ‘62, the President of The Crimson, wore a mask of the President and walked across the field, flanked by “Secret Service” agents, as the Harvard Band played “Hail to the Chief.” Reportedly, thousands of spectators were fooled.

In 1992, when the Harvard Band tried to “X-out” the Yale Precision Marching Band as it stood in its “Y formation,” the Yale Band quickly moved into a large “H formation” as the Harvard band approached so that Harvard X-ed itself out.

Harvard and Yale are not the only schools to join in on the fun, though, as MIT has famously pulled several pranks at The Game and stolen the show.

In 1982, during a timeout, a group of MIT students launched an enormous weather balloon from beneath the turf at the 46-yard line, using a remote triggering system. After hanging in the air for a few moments so the crowd got a good look at the letters "MIT," the balloon eventually exploded.

Eight years later, a new generation of hackers tried to repeat their predecessors' success: during the 1990 Harvard-Yale game, as a kicker prepared for a field goal, a rocket at the goal line exploded out of the ground, shooting a blanket-sized banner emblazoned with the words "MIT." The rocket was launched using 480 feet of wire that ran underneath the field. A headline the next day in the Boston Herald read, "MIT 1 — Harvard-Yale 0; Tech Pranksters Steal the Show." In 2006, MIT students replaced the “VE-RI-TAS” logo on the Harvard Stadium scoreboard with “HU-GE-EGO.”

These pranks—even when perpetrated by students from other schools—have undeniably become an integral part of The Game and the Harvard-Yale rivalry.

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