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Harvard hoops gets big boost with news that school will build new arena

That setup sounds similar to what Yale has in the also-historic Payne-Whitney Gymnasium. (And a quick side note: Payne-Whitney is old but has been renovated and really is one incredibly cool contraption of a facility. It feels like a video game in how many different levels there are, combined with all the sports training happening on a given afternoon.)

The interesting note to the Crimson’s arena’s plans is, this new Harvard hoops home won’t exceed 3,000 in seating, either. (The plan is about 2,700.) Why not try to go a little bigger and bank on basketball in the future? Shoot for a 4,000-seat palace!

Alas, they won’t. But the facilities will be a massive upgrade nonetheless, and that’s needed news for a fledgling program. This boost comes on the heels of Harvard making its first NCAA tournament in more than 60 years last season. It also comes about while the school has undergone an academic scandal that reeled in a couple of basketball players, too.

But the backdrop to this is indisputable: There is now palpable faith and pride in athletics at Harvard across many genres of faculty. It’s inspiring because Ivy League culture, heavily spearheaded by Harvard highbrows, has looked down on athletic achievement as some sort of social taboo for decades. (If we’re that good in football or basketball, are our academic numbers taking a big hit? is how the credo cries between the hallowed walls in Cambridge.) Now, instead of holding back on stale and paranoid ideals, Harvard can be a charging leader in a culture shift that the Ivy desperately needs if it’s to become more than a cute annual side story in basketball every March.

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