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justin ide

The Beanpot: Save for the occasional Doug Flutie Hail Mary, college sports rarely enter the Boston sports consciousness. But we make an exception every February for the annual hockey tournament featuring Harvard, Northeastern, BU and BC — but mostly the latter two, who, unless they are matched up against each other in the first round, are almost guaranteed to meet in the finals every year. It’s not Duke–Carolina or Auburn–Alabama, but no other college rivalry this intense is separated by mere stops on the same mass-transit line.

Marathon Monday: The Boston Marathon is run on Patriot’s Day, an annual holiday in Massachusetts. Kids stay home from school, adults get to skip work and the Sox play a morning game at Fenway that lets out just in time for spectators to watch the runners emerge over Heartbreak Hill for the home stretch. There are only two ways to gain entry into the field of runners: either post a qualifying time or raise money for a charity. In that way, the marathon is both a national event and a treasured civic experience.

The Harvard-Yale Tailgate: Known as The Game, the football played between these two fine institutions is generally good by Ivy League standards, and it generated one of the truly memorable headlines of the 20th century — Harvard beats Yale, 29–29 — when Harvard declared victory in 1968 after scoring a game-tying 16 points in the final 42 seconds. But the really serious action takes place in the parking lot, where the future leaders of America drink ­copious amounts of scotch and plan future bank mergers.

The State House Follies: It’s been said that our two favorite sports are actually politics and revenge, and it’s fitting that the latest scandal in our parade of disgraced public officials began with a shady deal over ­tickets. To understand the psyche of the city, pull up a barstool at the 21st Amendment pub on Beacon Hill and watch democracy unfold. That’s where the real game is in this town.