Harvard Athletics

Harvard Athletics

Harvard athletics takes hockey! Photo by Mark H. Anbinder

About Harvard Athletics

Harvard Athletics

Harvard Stadium! Photo by Thierry Tete

As the first institute of higher education in the United States, Harvard has a long and proud tradition of sports. Harvard was the first to play football as a collegiate sport, and has since inspired competitive sports in colleges across the country.

(Get your own Harvard jersey! Click here to become a part of the team).

The official name for the 43 Harvard athletic teams is “Harvard Crimson.” One of the most famous features of Harvard athletics is the Harvard Stadium, a U-shaped football stadium echoing Greek and Roman architecture.

As it has hosted many well-known games, the Harvard Stadium is a treasured symbol of the university and its love of sports.

Harvard v. Yale

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Harvard beats Yale! Photo by Dick Howe Jr.

When thinking about Harvard Crimson, you must always keep two words in mind: The Game.

The Harvard-Yale football game, known in most circles as “the Game,” is this most well-known rivalry in the history of collegiate athletics.

It has been taking place at the end of every November since 1875.  President John F. Kennedy, a Harvard Alum, once said that the rush of his presidency was like “playing Yale every Saturday.”

A Yale coach famously imbued his team before they ran out onto the field with the following words: “Gentleman, you are now going to play football against Harvard. Never again in your whole life will you do anything so important.”

In 1894, the fierce competition took a turn for the worst, in what is now known as the “Spring Massacre.”

Harvard Athletics

Photo courtesy of Harvard Athletics)

This Game saw seven players  carried off the field in grim condition.

After taking a two-year break from the yearly event, the colleges were at it again, going through every antic in the prank playbook to get back at their rival school.

One of the most clever planks happened in November 1933. Two caped individuals (supposedly from the Harvard Lampoon) kidnapped the Yale mascot, a live bulldog known as  Handsome Dan.

harvard athletics John Harvard, Cambridge

Don’t throw hamburger on me!

After smattering hamburger over the John Harvard statue, players and members of the Harvard Lampoon took pictures of Handsome Dan licking the feet of the founder of Harvard University. Newspapers across the country had these pictures on their front pages for weeks.

The Game’s reputation is so influential that it has often involved other well-established New England schools such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Throughout the rivalry, self-proclaimed “nerds” have found a way to infiltrate the games with clever pranks of their own. In 1982, MIT students “hacked” the Harvard Stadium and installed a black weather balloon under the 45-yard line. The balloon spontaneously expanded and exploded, sending talcum powder all over the field.

Among many traditions upheld by the Game, a particularly interesting one is “the Red Flag.” Historically, Harvard has granted the Red Flag to a fan who has attended the most Harvard-Yale games. Some flag-holders have proudly attended over 50 games in their lifetime.

Harvard Athletics Notable Alumni

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Two devoted Harvard fans during the Game. Photo: Dick Howe Jr.

Harvard Crimson has fostered many well-known athletes and a few celebrities.

Among many, there’s Tenley Alrbight ’61, a 1956  Olympic Gold Medalist and Jeremy Lin ’09, an NBA player for the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, and New York Knicks.

Tommy Lee Jones, star of films such as Men In Black and No Country for Old Men, is a member of the class of ’68, and was once an offense of tackle for the Harvard football team.

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