2004 Harvard–Yale prank
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 perpetrated a card stunt, costumed as a Harvard "pep squad". They gave out placards to a section of Harvard fans which, when raised together, read "We Suck".
The stunt was conceived of 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 crimson-and-white placards to fans in the central area of the Harvard side of the stadium—mostly Harvard alumni, with a few faculty, students, and others. The group told the crowd that, by lifting the placards, they would spell "Go Harvard".
Most Harvard students were sitting in a section off to the side of the alumni area where the prank was executed, and they left the stands unaware of the prank; however, players on the field did see the placards.
Initially, many at Harvard denied that the prank had happened. In response, Yale students registered the domain name "harvardsucks.org" (as well as "yalesucks.com" in a preemptive move) and posted a video detailing their efforts. Chuck Sullivan, Harvard's director of athletic communications, said, "[It was] all in good fun." In an interview with The Harvard Crimson, the prank's organizers claimed that members of the Harvard Band were complicit with the Yale pranksters.
Media and Internet coverage
The prank was covered by newspapers, radio programs, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, MSNBC, and several other TV shows. Several magazines have listed the prank among the greatest in college history. A satirical article in Maxim says that Yale perpetrated "the greatest prank this side of the Mason–Dixon line since the Boston Tea Party ... and caused dozens of stoic, blue-blooded Harvard men to spit port wine all over their smoking jackets." Sports Illustrated featured the prank with "some of the best attempts to get the other guy's goat". ESPN and ESPN2 featured the prank in a 15-minute documentary on the rivalry.
The Harvard Satyrical Press, a Harvard student magazine, published an article suggesting that the single photo circulated by the pranksters, showing Harvard fans holding up placards, is likely doctored, since it does not match the photos taken by their reporter. The magazine's photos show the words created by the placards as being nearly illegible. This claim is further supported by screenshots of the prankster's own movie, which match the Harvard Satyrical Press's photos, but not the photo circulated by the pranksters.
This prank echoes many similar stunts, most notably the Great Rose Bowl Hoax of 1961. In that Rose Bowl game, California Institute of Technology students had manipulated several of the ending card stunts led by Washington cheerleaders, the last of which caused the letters in "Caltech" to be spelled out.
- Ruggeri, Amanda (November 29, 2004). "Elis outsmart Harvard with prank at Game". Yale Daily News. Archived from the original on January 15, 2010. Retrieved January 21, 2010.
- ESPN documentary on the Harvard-Yale rivalry, featuring the "We Suck" prank, December, 2005.
- Kelly, M. Aidan (December 2, 2004). "Yale's Brief Shining Moment". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved September 10, 2007.
- Video of the incident
- New York Sun, December 1, 2004
- New Haven Register
- "From Hermes to bonsai kittens". The Economist. December 24, 2005. pp. 82–83.
- "Pranks for the Memories". Sports Illustrated. December 12, 2005. p. 36.
- "Ivy Beleaguered". Maxim. February 2005. pp. 20–21. Retrieved September 10, 2007.
- "Harvard Gets Pranked!". FHM. March 2005. p. 30.
- "Sportsmanship HARVARD SUCKS". PCFormat. March 2005. p. 30.
- "Photo of Yale's "We Suck" Prank Shown to Be Doctored". Harvard Satyrical Press. Spring 2007.
- "Photo of Yale's "We Suck" Prank Shown to Be Doctored" (PDF). Harvard Satyrical Press. Spring 2007. p. 14.
- "Elis outsmart Harvard with prank at Game". Yale Daily News. November 29, 2004.
- "Photo from 'Elis outsmart Harvard with prank at Game'". Yale Daily News. November 29, 2004.