Don Chiofaro's bright eyes were clouded and his heavy black eyebrows were lowered in a frown. The captain of the Harvard football team looked worried, just the way football players are supposed to look before big games. A day later Harvard would play Dartmouth in a game that might well decide the Ivy League championship, and Chiofaro was talking about the effect it had on him. "I haven't given too much thought to the game," he said. "I just came out of a wicked class in a psychology course that I'm really involved in. It's a group of 25 people, a study of how we all interact. Everybody is very frank and it can get pretty brutal. When you're concerned about something like this course, you don't have time to worry or lose sleep over a game."
Chiofaro is a social relations major and a linebacker, in that order. His crises—like those of most Ivy League athletes—occur on weekday mornings as well as Saturday afternoons. Last week he had three bad moments. The first came in class when some intellectuals said that they thought football was kind of a silly pastime. "I know you're entitled to your opinion," Don said politely. "And I respect you for it. But, frankly, I'd like to come over there and break you in half."
The second was in the same class, in a discussion of what the people in the group stood for. "I told one nice girl that she was the mother image," he said. "And she got furious, because she thought she should be the sex symbol."
The worst moment of all came late Saturday afternoon when Chiofaro sprawled helplessly in the Dartmouth backfield as Pete Donovan's last-minute field-goal attempt went through the uprights to win for Dartmouth 23-21.
In a game full of the exuberant hitting, razzle-dazzle plays and costly mistakes that mark most Ivy contests, Dartmouth had blown a 20-0 lead and come back again to win on a bizarre final drive that included two important penalties and two chances to make one field goal. Once in those last hectic moments it appeared that Harvard would stop Dartmouth outside the 20-yard line, but a roughing penalty took the ball in to the 12. Harvard held again, and on fourth down Donovan missed a field goal from the 14-yard line—but Harvard was offside. Given a second chance, Donovan succeeded, and Harvard lost a game it could easily have won.
Bob Blackman, the winning coach, was ready with all the clich�s about marvelous team efforts and breaks deciding the game. He said it would be unfair to single out any one boy who made a mistake in such a fine game. But Harvard's Chiofaro, who likes classes in which everybody is frank and honest, disagreed. He sat for a few moments in the silent Harvard locker room, wiping the dirt from his swarthy face and smiling weakly at people who congratulated him on his good effort. Someone said it was too bad the team had been offside on the field goal. "It was me," Don said. "I lined up offside."
Chiofaro, of course, had done enough good things to make up for his one costly error. He had nothing to be ashamed of. But even if he had played horribly all the way, he would have looked back on the game with the same honesty and perspective—an attitude that comes from playing college football mostly for fun. "I get very intense about the game," he says. "I think it gets to mean as much to me as it does to somebody in the Big Ten. But I'm an intense person, and I get intense about other things, too."
The Harvard campus was concerned last week with a number of things other than an impending battle between undefeated teams. There was a sit-in protesting a campus recruiter from a chemical company that makes napalm used in Vietnam, and there was planning for a larger sit-in to greet recruiters from the Central Intelligence Agency. There was anger over a local mayor who had declared war on hippies, and concern over FBI men who were on campus to investigate draft resisters. Even the half-time shows at the game reflected the general mood. The Dartmouth marching band presented a good-natured look at hippies, forming the shape of a bomb and changing it to a flower, but the Harvard band drew louder cheers by forming the word "Tax" and changing it to "Pax." "A football player probably gets less attention on campus now than a leader of protests against the war," said Lee Simowitz, managing editor of The Harvard Crimson. "But you couldn't say that football has lost its popularity. Guys are paying scalpers' prices for tickets this week."
Those who paid received a diversion from studies and worries as good as anything the Ivy League has offered in some time. The day was bright and the rooters on both sides were inspired to heights of enthusiasm by school loyalties.
"Harvard-Yale is a rivalry built on similarities and mutual respect," explained one Harvard man. "Harvard-Dartmouth is built on differences." This is true. The game matches a city school against a country school, conservative Coach John Yovicsin against Blackman and his high-pressure style, and a limited recruiting program against the most efficient one in the league. So Dartmouth is always strong, and Harvard is often weak. Yet in the last decade the teams have split their 10 games.