There are a lot of rivalry games in college football, but only the annual tilt between Yale and Harvard is big enough to simply be called "The Game."
As such, there's no way Yale quarterback Patrick Witt would miss it, right? What excuse could possibly be good enough to drag him away from The Game?
How about a crack at the Rhodes Scholarship? Witt was named one of just over 200 finalists for the scholarship, which allows lucky students to go on to postgraduate study at the University of Oxford, and he was scheduled to interview for it on Saturday.
Saturday, as in this coming Saturday, the day The Game is scheduled to be played.
What's a brilliant young man like Witt to do?
Apparently, play in The Game.
Per ESPN.com, Yale announced on Sunday that Witt had withdrawn his Rhodes application, saying, "My focus this week is solely on preparing for The Game alongside my teammates and coaches."
It's a bold decision, and one that not everyone is going to agree with. Sure, playing in the biggest football game the Ivy League has to offer (and maybe all of college football has to offer) is all well and good, but does it really outweigh a chance to earn the so-called "world's most prestigious scholarship?"
Admittedly, I'm on the fence about the idea. This may sound weird coming from a sportswriter, but I value academics higher than I value sports. It's up to all of us to make the most of our minds, and you might say those with better minds than the rest have an even more pressing responsibility to do so.
Concerning Witt, what good is his brilliant mind if he chooses to focus it on something as trivial as football? As hallowed as the gridiron may be, it's not Oxford.
In so many words, by choosing to play football rather than commit himself to the Rhodes selection process, Witt is wasting not just his time, but possibly his future as well.
Maybe, but not necessarily. The good news for Witt is that he can reapply for the Rhodes Scholarship any time before his 24th birthday (he's 22), so it is entirely conceivable that he could still end up getting it.
But that's down the road. Since the deed is done, the only thing that matters now is Saturday's game.
Which, in my opinion, is not a complete waste of Witt's time. He's not going to win a chance to go study at Oxford if he leads the Bulldogs to a win, but at least he will be able to participate in something that, though not sacred, it certainly special. No doubt some of the other Rhodes finalists wouldn't mind switching places with Witt.
Besides, there is value to be found in Witt's decision to play in The Game. While you could argue that he's putting his mind to waste, you could also argue that the choice he made exemplifies plenty of other worthwhile traits. Things like duty, commitment and leadership come to mind.
These things may not amount to an academic chance of a lifetime, but they are not entirely valueless either.
I'm not sure I would have made the same choice had I been in Witt's shoes, but I will tip my cap to him. He made a choice not everyone could make, and for that he deserves some credit.
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