Here we have for your viewing pleasure, the oldest clip in existence, of an American college football game! The two sides playing each other are the athletic Ivy Leagues Princeton and Yale. You’ll find it interesting, as the game, back when the filming took place at the turn of the last century, was quite different, resembling rugby! Grab a pompom and cheer them on after the jump!
Bowler caps and thick coats makeup the front row bleachers. These were the team’s managers and coaches and other VIPS, all bended in among each other! Though silent, we can imagine them hollering and voicing their support, along with their frustrations, just as we know them to do in the present day! This particular game took place on November 14, 1903 in New Haven, Connecticut. The audience that day is estimated to have amounted to 50,000.
What’s a historical piece of footage without its production notes? The film was produced by Thomas A. Edison Inc. and was shot by cinematographer A.C. Abadie on 16mm film. As you can see the grainy, blotchy quality of the film tells of its age. This is in part attributed to the 16mm film which is now known to degrade quite severely. With the advancement of restoration techniques, these films, such as the one above, are able to be salvaged, their fading colors adequately restored.
And now, bit of intercollegiate football history. The first game to take place was between Rutgers College (now Rutgers University) and the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) on November 6, 1869 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Interestingly, college football was the last sport to be introduced in the world of intercollegiate sporting events!
This article was inspired by this Kottke piece.