Columbia Football at 150!

On November 12, 1870 Columbia played its first football game, only the fourth intercollegiate contest in the history of the sport, losing to Rutgers by a score of 6-3. The game and Columbia’s program have come a long way since then.

Composite image for Columbia Football 150th Celebration. Courtesy of Columbia Athletics.

Navigating numerous home fields, a 10-year ban instituted by Columbia president Nicholas Murray Butler, changes in equipment and the game itself Columbia Football has evolved over the years, reaching great heights (Rose Bowl victory in 1934!) and sinking to some very low moments (44-game losing streak from 1983 to 1988).

This fall Columbia Athletics is celebrating the 150th anniversary of Columbia Football with a social media and virtual initiative featuring three fan-friendly events, numerous historical feature stories, social media posts, fan interaction polls, and the selection of an All 150 Team. The celebration began in September and runs through the end of November 2020. Browse an extensive gallery of historical football photographs, catch up on some great football stories, vote for your favorite team or even submit your own Columbia football memories.

The Columbia Jester, October 1915, cover artwork by G.W.T. Gillette, CC 1918. Call# CP1 C723

The University Archives joins Columbia Athletics’s celebration of the 150th anniversary of Columbia Football by presenting an online exhibition Roar, Lion, Roar which traces the arc of Columbia’s football program from its inception in 1870 to the present day. This online exhibition is based on a physical exhibition of the same name which was on display in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library from August 26 to December 20, 2019.

In addition to the online exhibition, there are a number of other digital resources available. These include a number of football-related posts found in the RBML’s News blog and an article in the Gotham Center for New York City History’s blog. There is also a video of the physical exhibition opening event, a moderated panel discussion with former players from the different eras and a press release of the panel from Athletics.

Columbia Football has a rich and fascinating history and we are thrilled to be able to share it with you.

Happy Anniversary #CUFootball150! Go Lions!