When you think of homecoming, what do you think of? The game? The parties? Alumni converging on their alma mater?
Homecomings are all those things, and have been dating back to the early 19th century. While oft disputed, many scholars acknowledge the University of Missouri’s 1911 football game as the first official homecoming in the nation.
How Did it Start?
After a 20 years of battling on neutral sites, the “Border War” (the rivalry between the Kansas Jayhawks and the Missouri Tigers—the oldest college football rivalry west of the Mississippi River) was to be played for the first time on a college campus due to new conference regulations. The two teams would meet on Missouri’s campus. To ensure good attendance, coach and Director of Athletics, Chester Brewer, invited alumni to “come home” for the game.
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The game ended in a 3-3 tie, but was celebrated by 10,000 alumni, with a parade, a spirit rally and a bonfire. It was a huge success that eventually spawned homecoming celebrations at colleges across the country.
But Others Also Claim to be #1
Both Baylor University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign both held what they describe as homecoming events in 1909 and 1910, respectively.
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According to Wikipedia, In 1909, Baylor University held an organized alumni event described as a "Home-Coming" whose focus point was a varsity sports match, as well as a concert, pep rally, parade, and bonfire; however, the extensively planned event was isolated and wasn't replicated again at Baylor until 1915. Illinois says its first homecoming event was held on October 15, 1910.
The Idea Spread
By the 1920’s homecoming events had become common place and spread across the country. Today, homecoming events often crown a “king” and “queen”, feature a football game, parades, tailgate parties, dances, and more.
Information compiled from the University of Missouri and Wikipedia.
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