Thursday, August 6, 2009

Men Of Harbin?

This has been a fairly serious summer of posts on the blog, but as the season arrives there's always time to take a step back. Football is more than dollars and cents, but about camaraderie: among players, among fans, among schools.

Camaraderie came to mind this week upon a review of some of the posts on the HoyaTalk message boards. For the most part, the folks get along, and the comments often elevate from mere fandom to some pretty high-minded conversation. I'm still scratching my head over the quote which read, in part:

"I cited the problems of removal jurisdiction and a state court being able to fashion a post-hoc remedy that does not impinge on the Article II powers that are already committed to the electors, the legislature, and Congress. You cite the fact that State Secretary's of State make a ministerial decision regarding candidate eligibility. Challenging this approximately a year later through the use of an extraordinary writ is specious and unlikely to succeed. A court will not fashion relief that goes beyond the bounds of what it may do constitutionally, where the Plaintiff has slept on his or her rights, and the court cannot workably enforce the remedy. I already stated this. You still refuse to deal with it. Of course, your argument also ignores the fact that courts have already dealt with this and dismissed state suits for the exact reasons I explained here."

I'm guessing he wasn't talking about Tucker Stafford's passing attack.

But across the pages at the football board, there was a discussion about having the football team build up some excitement at the start of the game, something popular at I-A schools but largely ignored at the bottom of the Patriot League. One post suggested an entrance like they do at the College of Wooster, where a
pipe band leads the Scots onto the field. Another poster suggested the scene from the 1964 movie "Zulu", where the outmanned British garrison, about to face a slaughter from 20,000 proud warriors, suddenly breaks out in singing the Welsh battle song, Men of Harlech. (Was someone making an inference between the Hoyas' chances and that of the garrison? Perhaps, but don't forget that it was the Empire that won the battle.)

OK, so many Hoyas may not get the clever sub-reference. Here's another video where the fans of Cardiff's soccer team sing following Cardiff's FA Cup semifinal win in 2008. You may not know the words, but the tune ought to be familiar:


video

The song, commemorating the mighty siege of Harlech Castle from 1461 to 1468, was the musical backdrop to Robert Collier's Sons of Georgetown (1894). Most students of the era knew the musical tie-in, most today would surely not. If the team marched onto the field singing this song a capella, I would guess at least one Georegetown fan would ask if they were referring to "Men of Harbin."

The song is one of courage and camaraderie. In sports, that's an unseen and often misunderstood benefit of the athletics experience. In sports, as in life, we learn more from one another than simply from a playbook or a chalk-talk; it is the elements of character and leadership that athletics, the "battlefields of friendly strife", teach. For a Georgetown team where players don't go on to the NFL, where winning is still a goal and not an expectation, and where the four year experience of football is a significant personal commitment most students and/or fans will not soon realize, the need to dedicate oneself to the task at hand is not to be underemphasized.

So, yes, maybe the team does need a better entrance onto the unnamed Multi-Sport Field every game. Maybe they should gather at the hill above the new Hariri Hall, the crown jewel of the MSB, and run down the hill with great abandon (assuming the fencing is taken care of, of course.) Maybe the Georgetown band, not prone to simple marching, should otherwise greet them on the field with the fight song as they run down the field. Or maybe it's as simple as playing the old Georgetown alma mater, it's own Men of Harlech, before the start of play and encourage the crowd to sing it loudly as a call to action, not a post-game dirge of defeat. Use the beginning of the game to set a course of unity, of Georgetown, of victory, and have fun doing so. With a month until the home opener against Lafayette, let's get this on the to-do list, even if it means handing out lyrics to fans as they walk in the gate.

Collier put it best:
"Where Potomac's tide is streaming
From her spires and steeples beaming.
See the grand old banner gleaming
Georgetown's Blue and Gray..."

(And then beat the #$%^%$ out of Lafayette.)