Believe it or not, there was a time in this country when intercollegiate sports was unheard of. Granted it was a long, long time ago, and intercollegiate sports are older than The Civil War, baseball, football, and basketball, but there really was a period when the notion of one college competing against another in a sporting event was a completely foreign concept.
Yale formed their rowing team in 1843, followed by Harvard a year later, and in 1852, the first Harvard-Yale Regatta was born. It wouldn’t become an annual event until seven years later, but the two schools have met 149 times over the years, with Harvard holding a nearly 2-1 advantage over Yale in the win column. Harvard is currently in the midst of a seven year undefeated run as well, and Yale has never managed to win more than 6 in a row, with their best period coming from 1886-1905 when they won all but two races.
College sports are now an institution, and an unending license to print money which holds tremendous amounts of pride for various alumni and school backers. It’s strange, then, to think that they owe their entire existence to rowing, a sport viewed by many as a dated, elitist game. So just remember, the next time you see your school’s rowing team, thanks them for continuing to support the sport which gave birth to all others on college campuses.