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“Brutality in playing a game should awaken the heartiest and most plainly shown contempt for the player guilty of it.”
February 22, 2012 2:50 PM   Subscribe

Edison's footage of the Princeton v. Yale (1903) football contest.

Final Score? Princeton 11, Yale 6. Apparently, it was one of the most remarkable football games ever played to that date.

Honestly, I just don't see it. Football isn't football without the forward pass, even if it didn't catch on at first. Thanks, Teddy.
posted by absalom (27 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Neat to see the teams run onto the field from their locker rooms (I guess); some traditions start early and never change.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 3:16 PM on February 22, 2012


Direct YouTube link. For me, the strangest thing was seeing so many sharply dressed men wearing bowlers on the sidelines.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:16 PM on February 22, 2012


Two East Coast offences going at it. That's football.
posted by tigrefacile at 3:19 PM on February 22, 2012


I probably should have posted a link to the full article pdf, since it's pretty long and a great read.
posted by absalom at 3:24 PM on February 22, 2012


That looks more like rugby than modern football. Anyway, the good guys won.
posted by caddis at 3:25 PM on February 22, 2012


The sad part was when the coach challenges the play in the third quarter, and the the instant replay referee took 3 months to develop the film, identify which team was which (!) and make the ruling on the call. "After further review -- the play stands."
posted by Metro Gnome at 3:35 PM on February 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


Really interesting to watch. Everyone in that film clip has most likely long since died. Indeed, the 20 year olds playing football were in their 50's and 60's by World War II. Thanks to Edison, we get to see these ghosts play this match over and over again. Carpe diem, indeed.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:48 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure which is more amazing, that there is footage of a more than hundred year old football game or that the New York Times found a Princeton-Yale game worthy of that amount of coverage.

More seriously, I would love to see what you could do to that footage with modern denoising algorithms.
posted by pombe at 3:59 PM on February 22, 2012


At Yale, they teach us to wash our hands after we go to the bathroom
posted by thelonius at 4:14 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


At Yale, they teach us to wash our hands after we go to the bathroom

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that Yale students haven't learned that until they get to college.
posted by The World Famous at 4:21 PM on February 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


Halftime show: Cher.

- David Letterman
posted by davebush at 4:24 PM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not to be a stickler but Edison tended to take credit for a lot of things... curious as to who really filmed it.
posted by starman at 4:32 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


More like Edison Labs film - not Edison.
Edison did not film this game, nor any of the early films associated with him.

And while he gets most of the credit for inventing motion pictures, really it was workers at his lab building on existing ideas. Edison himself only had very limited involvement in film.
posted by Flood at 4:33 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, at least one thing hasn't changed about football. For 3:47 of video, the ball is in play for about 12 seconds.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:44 PM on February 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


For a fictional description of a Yale-Princeton game of this era, check out the generally-entertaining Stover at Yale. Relive the days when not only were there no Jews or blacks in the Ivy League, and "Yankee trader" was a derogatory ethnic stereotype!
posted by sy at 4:47 PM on February 22, 2012


College gridiron football was the sport in the 19th century. It was covered extensively by all newspapers, not just the New York Times.

Rutgers and Princeton first played a game somewhat recognizable as football in 1869. Harvard and Tufts played something not unlike this film in 1875.

On the west coast, Stanford and Berkeley first played in 1892.

The University of Michigan claims that the 1904 football game between Michigan and Chicago was the first filmed football game. That isn't true, according to CiniWiki

By the way, the cameraman for this game was apparently A.C. Abadie.
posted by blob at 4:50 PM on February 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Flood: Excellent point, I agree.

In fact, when I actually get to Edison in class, I tend to focus on the fact he only ever invented one thing. Of course, that one thing was the Research and Development Lab. Which, is still kind of a big deal.

But, yeah, Edison was a Grade-A, self-aggrandizing douchebag of the sort we'd all be intimately familiar with today. His battles with Tesla/Westinghouse and his old school patent trolling* are just a couple of examples. I mean, he advocated the torturous murder of criminals by electricity just so he could name the practice for his rival (Westinghoused him!) and fried an elephant to death on Coney Island for the same reason. Except, hey, bigger and more desperate.


*"Trolling" in the 19th century involved getting some giant guys with clubs (trolls) to smash places up that didn't respect your patents (trolling).**

** This is not true in FACT, but it is true in SPIRIT.
posted by absalom at 6:33 PM on February 22, 2012


Nice to see some vintage single wing offense here, but it's amazing to watch the play and know what the simple addition of the pulling right guard did on the power play to vault the offense into another stratosphere beyond the line buck/plunge. Also, with a misdirection 31 trap, this game score goes into the 30's. My kingdom for a time machine!!
posted by Senator at 8:28 PM on February 22, 2012


30,000 people in attendance.
That's 20,000 more than attended the last Princeton/Yale game.
posted by madajb at 8:32 PM on February 22, 2012


30,000 people in attendance.
That's 20,000 more than attended the last Princeton/Yale game.


True, but in those days everyone brought their valet to the game with them.
posted by The World Famous at 8:50 PM on February 22, 2012


I'm so embarrassed. I assumed my speakers were muted and turned them up all the way.
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:25 PM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Relive the days when not only were there no Jews or blacks in the Ivy League, and "Yankee trader" --sy
A quick Google fact check: quotas on Jews were implemented at Ivy Leagues in the 1920s (which tends to indicate that there were no such quotas before that time).

For African Americans, my quick checking didn't find much, except for Theadore Wright, who went to Princeton Theological Seminary in the 1800s.

Probably few, but it is incorrect to sat that there were none.
posted by eye of newt at 9:29 PM on February 22, 2012


Did anybody notice around the 2:20 mark, how quickly several of the downs were played? I know there are some cuts later on, but there are two running plays where the teams pick them selves right up and run the next play within ~10 seconds.

Contrast that to today's lackadaisical play and I can at once understand how football caught on initially, and why I loathe the modern-day game so much.
posted by DavidandConquer at 5:49 AM on February 23, 2012


Wow, the ref totally missed that false start!
posted by Doohickie at 11:18 AM on February 23, 2012


For African Americans, my quick checking didn't find much, except for Theadore Wright, who went to Princeton Theological Seminary in the 1800s.

Princeton Theological Seminary is not part of Princeton University.

The first African-American to earn a degree from Princeton was John Leroy Howard, in 1947. (source)
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:44 PM on February 23, 2012


The British Film Institute has a few examples on Youtube from around the same time, if you want to see how Association Football was doing...

Sheffield Utd v Bury (1902)
Newcastle Utd v Liverpool (1901)
and from someone else, 15 seconds from 1897.
posted by Auz at 2:22 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some Rugby as well: Hunslet v Leeds (1901).
posted by Auz at 2:25 PM on February 23, 2012


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