I would’ve thought at this point in time that when most people hear the word “Yale” the first thing that comes to mind is moral indignation and censorship of free speech on behalf of marginalized identities. Who can forget the young student last fall during the wave of campus protests shouting that Yale was “not about creating an intellectual space”? If it’s not, then that quarter-of-a-million-dollar education ain’t worth much.
But for most middle-class Americans, the mere mention of a fancy private school continues to irk and roil them as symbols of class superiority. The reaction to Yale and Duke meeting today in the NCAA basketball tournament known as “March Madness” is fascinating. Despite the fact that both teams got where they are entirely on merit — which is to say by winning — news media are asking which lesser of two evils can you possibly root for, and calling it the most insufferable game in history.
This passage is from a piece headlined “Yale Vs. Duke For All The Preppy Glory”:
They will arrive, sweaters casually draped over their shoulders and clutching Kate Spade bags, their sockless feet shoved into loafers and their collars perfectly popped, to root for their team — either the undermanned scrappers from that rough-and-tumble campus of Duke University or the plucky underdogs from the hardscrabble world of Yale University.
And America will pause to light a candle and mourn the temporary death of March Madness, when the light-beer game stepped aside for the Chardonnay crowd.
Duke versus Yale, elite versus upper-crust, Biff versus Bronwyn.
Another headline runs “Yale vs. Duke spawns preppy memes, jokes” and include the memes below. You’ll see that in the minds of the mocking the subjective associations are random, with evocation of the English upper class thrown together with blond movie villains from ’80s cinema:
The game, by the way, airs today at 3 PM Eastern on The Preppy Channel, which is Time-Warner Cable channel number 346 for those on the east coast. And pictured at top, in case you don’t recognize him, is the former Duke player at the center of the docomentary “I Hate Christian Laettner.” — CC