Princeton’s Oct. 6 football game against Hampton University marked the first time the Tigers have played a historically black college or university in football. Though Princeton lost, 48–27, students and faculty said the schools’ meeting was an important one.
“The game marked the beginning of a wonderful new chapter in Princeton’s relationship with historically black colleges,” said Daphne Brooks, associate professor of English and African American studies. “Given the rich cultural history of these institutions, it’s exciting to see Princeton developing interactive ties with Hampton and other institutions that might continue to open the doors to continuing cross-cultural exchanges” between the Ivies and other historically black colleges, Brooks said.
Hundreds of Hampton fans showed up to cheer, boosting total attendance to 15,329, a high number for a non-Ivy game. Students said that the energy level was higher than at many games at Princeton Stadium, noting “The Force,” Hampton’s marching band of about 200 students, and the large number of fans. “Seeing what black colleges put into football, especially the halftime show, was a good cultural experience for a lot of people,” said Daniel Dickerson ’10, a Virginia native who had seen Hampton play in high school.
“It was different and really exciting,” said Princeton wide receiver Austin Gill ’10. “Hampton is ranked nationally, and we knew they were going to be a really good team,” he said.
Fans felt positively about the new matchup. “It should definitely be a continued trend,” Dickerson said. “It’s helpful to have some samples of what other lifestyles are like outside of the Princeton bubble.” The Tigers will face Hampton again in 2011.
Brooks delivered a fall football lecture the morning of the game, and the Association of Black Princeton Alumni held several events, including a tailgate gathering and an open house at Stanhope Hall, the new home of the Center for African American Studies.