Howard vs. Hampton Rivalry Returns to Respective Campuses
Published: Friday, September 13, 2002
Updated: Sunday, August 10, 2008 00:08
For years, Howard University and Hampton University have been rivals, both academically and athletically. On the football field, the rivalry has seen great games, some which determined conference winners. Regardless of both teams' records at the time of the game, Howard vs. Hampton remains one of the nation's top football rivalries.
A few years back, the universities' respective athletic departments decided to hold the game at larger stadiums, including some NFL ones. In 1999 the Howard/Hampton game was held in R.F.K. Stadium, the previous home of the Washington Redskins. Hampton pulled out the 28-27 victory in an extremely close match-up.
Although it wasn't a packed house, much of the stadium was filled as Howard students took the Metro, Hampton students bused up from Virginia, and alumni and local residents came out to see the historic rivalry.
The attendance of the game at R.F.K. was so impressive that in 2000, the game moved to Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Although it rained before the game and during much of the contest, the attendance was outstanding once again, as Hampton defeated Howard 26-24, in another close one.
Despite the exceptional attendance numbers, in early 2001 the athletic departments decided to move the game back to the campuses. The move was viewed as questionable by some because the same attendance problems would certainly come about again.
However, although a few ticket holders found it hard to find a seat at Greene Stadium, last year's game was definitely a success, as local businesses benefited from large attendance and students walked from their dorms to see Howard take on their arch rival.
"As a business owner and a long-time D.C. resident, I'd love for all of the games to be on campus," said Kenny Gilmore, owner of Howard Delicatessen. " I know that in the past, attendance has been so large that holding the game on campus is difficult. However, the game gives a huge boost to most small businesses in the area and I hope they continue to hold the games at Howard."
When Howard and Hampton take the field Saturday, it will mark the first time in 16 years that the game will be played at Hampton University. Students, administration and business owners in the area are anticipating the rivalry's return to Hampton.
"I know the business owners could definitely use a boost and the students here are excited that such a large game is coming to campus," said Brian Cunningham, a senior business administration major at Hampton University.
"No matter how we do this season, if we beat Howard right here at Hampton, the season probably cannot be looked upon as a disappointment."
"The Hampton-Howard rivalry is one that everyone in this area, on campus and off, is looking forward to," said Jamar Ross, sports information director at Hampton University.
"And the fact that this will be the first time since 1986 that the game will be held at Armstrong Stadium, here on campus, makes it even more exciting. Playing Howard in the Urban League Classics was great but it's just something about bringing this game back to campus that has everyone looking forward to Saturday."
Both Howard and Hampton are expected to have good football seasons this year. However, the effect the game has on businesses, students, administration and local residents explains why the game is much more than just your average conference battle.