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The Only Game That Matters: The Harvard/Yale Rivalry Hardcover – October 19, 2004


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“The perfect jewel of a book—engaging, informative, and, most important, interesting.” —Chicago Tribune

“Harvard is playing Yale in football again and again in The Game, and you’re part of the crowd with Bernard M. Corbett and Paul Simpson’s wonderful look at this great rivalry. Stand next to a Kennedy on one side, a Bush on the other, and watch The Only Game That Matters unfold through the years. By the end you’ll feel like a successful alum. Great stuff!” —Leigh Montville, author of Ted Williams and At the Altar of Speed

“Bragging rights to the game are taken every bit as seriously as they are in Columbus or Tuscaloosa.” —Sports Illustrated

“To understand Ohio State/Michigan, Florida/Florida State, and USC/UCLA, you need to understand Harvard/Yale. The Only Game That Matters is a great place to start.” —Lee Corso, college football analyst, ESPN


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; First Edition edition (October 19, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400050685
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400050680
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,656,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By S. Poulter on October 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Every fall, colleges from far and wide gather together in some of the most intense and passionate rivalries in all of sports. Whether it be the classic rivals of Ohio State-Michigan, Army-Navy, or Auburn-Alabama, nothing truly compares to a game between two longly contested institutions. However of all the great traditional rivalries perhaps none exemplifies the true and humble beginnings of football better than Harvard and Yale. With this outstanding piece of football commentary and history, Corbett and Simpson give the reader a true sense of what The Game is truly about: sportsmanship, loyalty, and tradition. Whether your a die-hard alumni or a casual fan of good football, this book will keep you interested and motivated to know more. You begin to understand and apprieciate the rivalry that this is. Since many of the great Division I-AA rivarlies, like Harvard-Yale or Lehigh-Lafayette, don't get as much attention from the press, its very refreshing to see an example of the true student-athelete at his triumphal and inspiring best. The young men of Harvard and Yale, coming from different backgrounds and lives, come together every year not to showcase their own individual skills for NFL scouts but rather represent the institutions that have come to exemplify American excellence the last 300 hundred years. You don't even have to have gone to either school to gain a general sense of pride when observing such a rivalry unfold. It is simply inspiring and uplifting to know that sports are still played for the love of the game and to know with a combined effort anything is possible for a team. A truly honorable feat by both schools to keep tradition and pride alive in a otherwise prideless sports landscape.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael Faro on October 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book was interesting and a fun read for any Harvard or Yale grad...or any fan of college football. However, I counted at least three errors in the book. Early in the book President Theodore Roosevelt is listed as being from the Harvard Class of 1880. Several pages later he's listed as the class of 1895. (1880 is the correct date...) In discussions of Frank Hinkey, he is mentioned as one of only 5 four-time All Americans. In the photo section, his picture is accompanied by a description that says he is one of 11 four-time All Americans. Then, there is discussion of Ivy League football dropping from Division I-A to I-AA. At first this is mentioned as having happened in 1982. Later in the book, the 1974 Yale team is noted to have the best defense in Division I-AA. (But they were still in Division I-A in '74, weren't they?)

Anyway, these were three glaring errors that I picked up without doing any research or fact-checking. It just makes me wonder how many other errors are in the book that I didn't notice?
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Format: Hardcover
In the 1875-1876 football game, Harvard beat Yale 4 to 0. The next year it was Yale's turn to win 1 to 0. In fact that began a winning streak that lasted until 1891 (to be sure there were some 0 to 0 ties and a few years when they didn't play) when when Harvard finally won 12 to 6.

But in spite of a few tidbits like these, this isn't a history book. This is almost a eulogy to the rivalry. Perhaps eulogy isn't exactly the right word since they usually reflect on something past, and this rivalry certainly isn't over.

The book is historical, but spends most of its time on the recent games, players, and coaches. The two writers are both Massachusetts men, but then again, Massachusetts is just a short physical distance from New Haven. Delightful book.
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Format: Paperback
Not only is this a good read into the history of the Harvard/Yale rivalry, but it is also a nice glimpse into the origin and development of college football as well as the development of the sport of football as it is played today. As a fan of an SEC school, it definitely gave me an appreciation of the Ivy League.
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Format: Hardcover
This is one of the greatest rivalries of two great schools - It dates back to another time.
In many ways this a great part of American Football History. Remember Yale contributed
greatly to the modern development of American Football before 1900. Rev. Ron Hooker
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