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This Week in MIT History

In late November, 1901, MIT held its first field day. “Spurren on by class yells and the large attendance, victors and vanquished made the fights of their lives in order that the class they represented might have the honor of winning the first wreath on the new cup at this first Field Day,” stated the article published that week.

The Tech noted at the time that “the success of our first Field Day instantly stamps that day as a fixture on our calendar, and on which should be looked forward to with an ever-increasing interest as years go by.” Indeed, the tradition persisted for many decades, but was finally abandoned later in the century.

However, the criticism existed then as today, that MIT school spirit was lacking. “It has often been said of Tech men that their college spirit, their interest in Institute affairs, was noticeable only by its absence.”

The Field Day, much like previous years’ Johnson Games, was viewed as a method of uniting the campus. The day included three events, a football game and relay race, won by the freshmen, and a tug-o’-war, won by the sophomores. The football game, valued at four points and the relay race, valued at two pushed the younger class ahead of the older, which had only three points awarded for the tug-o’-war match. Thus, the class of 1905 was the first winner of the MIT Field Day.