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The Only Game That Matters

The Harvard/Yale Rivalry

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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

Publishers Weekly Review

Sep 06, 2004 – To the outside world, the November matchup between Harvard and Yale may be "just a couple of mediocre teams battling for position in the bottom half of the nation's football landscape," but the schools' alumni famously invest the annual gridiron meeting with near religious significance. Corbett and Simpson, collaborators on several books about Boston sports, trace this fierce competition back to college football's late–19th-century origins. Though the matter is in some dispute, they effectively make Harvard's case for having played the first real college football game in 1874—but not against Yale; that first battle would come a year later. Much of the book is devoted to a historical roundup, combining game highlights with profiles of figures like legendary Yale coach Walter Camp. The remainder focuses on the 2002 season, devoting roughly equal space to both teams as they approach the faceoff. The suspense is ladled on a bit thick in these sections, but there are several side discussions ranging from loyal tailgaters to the difficulties of recruiting high school athletes for Ivy League teams. The presentation lacks any perceptible favoritism: even the introductions offer one Crimson (Sen. Edward Kennedy) and one Eli (Gov. George Pataki) to maintain the book's genteel neutrality. 8 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW.
The Only Game That Matters
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Football
  • Published: Oct 19, 2004
  • Publisher: Crown/Archetype
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 320 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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