The Howard vs Hampton football rivalry stands as a storied tradition in college football, representing a fierce and longstanding competition between two historically black universities. This past Saturday marked the 98th meeting between the two programs that started in 1908.
The friendly teasing between the schools has always had a playful and light-hearted vibe. Howard University says it is the true “HU” because Hampton used to be called Hampton Institute, abbreviated as “HI,” until 1984. Saturday’s game was primarily about determining “Who is the true HU?” and, for the upcoming year, Hampton holds that title. The Pirates made an impressive comeback, securing a thrilling 35-34 win even though they were behind 34-21 at the start of the fourth quarter. This victory marks their seventh consecutive win against the Bison, a streak that started in 2015.
The game that happens nearly every year has always been more than just about football. Even when the football action is exciting, it’s not the only highlight. This event is a special occasion that honors two respected Black Ivy League schools, and it’s also a celebration of the vibrant life and culture at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
During the game there is an exciting band competition featuring musicians dancing, twirling batons, and swirling flags. The crowd cheered even louder than they did for any play in the game.
Dontrell Allen, a senior bass drummer for Howard marching band, commented in the Washington Post on the significance the bands play in the rivalry game.
“You can ask a lot of people they’ll say they come for the band. We bring the entertainment factor, the wow factor. We bring the soul and spirit to the football game,” Allen said.
The big game is also inspiring to prospective Black students who might not have considered attending an HBCU. It demonstrates that these institutions offer not only an excellent education but also a cultural experience, making them a great choice for Black students looking for a supportive and enriching academic environment.
Michael Harris, pastor at First Baptist Church of Passtown in Coatesville, PA also commented in the Washington post on the impact the game can have on students after he brought four teenagers from his church to the game to fulfill the HBCU experience.
“Who knows? From this experience, it may encourage them to pursue going to an HBCU — in particular, maybe even Hampton or Howard.”