As Harvard graduate Roger Angell once said, “The Game picks us up each November and holds us for two hours and...all of us, homeward bound, sense that we are different yet still the same. It is magic.”
For hundreds of thousands of alumni and fans, the annual clash between Harvard and Yale inspires a sense of nostalgia and pride unequaled anywhere in sports. For much of the year Ivy League football is overshadowed by powerhouse programs such as Miami and Michigan. But not on the third Saturday of November, when all eyes turn to New England for the legendary battle between the Crimson and the Blue. In The Only Game That Matters, Bernard M. Corbett and Paul Simpson explore what makes this iconic rivalry so revered, so beloved, and so pivotal in college football history.
Known simply as “The Game,” this tradition-soaked Ivy League feud began in 1875, and it has been leading the evolution of college football ever since. Although the Ivy League hasn’t had a national champion in decades, The Game still stands alone in the college football pantheon. It is a living history, its roots reaching back to a time when young men took to the field for the sake of competition, not for a chance at a million-dollar pro contract. The Game, then and now, features the true student athlete.
Of course, it also features bloody brawls, ingenious pranks, and breathtaking comebacks. The Only Game That Matters recounts the 2002 season through the eyes of players and coaches, interweaving the modern-day experience with great stories of classic games past. By tracing this venerable competition from its inception—looking at such legendary games as 1894’s Bloodbath in Hampden Park and Harvard’s 29–29 “win” in 1968 and such influential coaches as Yale’s Walter Camp, the father of football as we know it—the anatomy of a rivalry emerges. Culminating in the thrilling 2002 contest, The Only Game That Matters illuminates the unique place this storied feud occupies in today’s sports world. To the game of football, to the spirit of rivalry, to the Crimson and Blue faithful, The Game is the only game that matters.
“In this book about the remarkable football rivalry between Harvard and Yale, Bernard M. Corbett and Paul Simpson capture the unique intensity of this famous game, as felt by the teams who go all out on each play, and by the families and the alumni in the stands who live and die by each touchdown.”
—From the Foreword by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Harvard ’56
“The Only Game That Matters does a great job of explaining why Yale/Harvard is The Game – one that does matter, and should matter more. It is a shining example of what college football and amateur sports should be.”
—From the Foreword by Governor George E. Pataki, Yale ’67