Mizzou: The Birthplace of Homecoming, An American Tradition
By Dale Wright
The rivalry between Missouri and Kansas dates back to pre-civil war days, during the “Border Wars,” and so how appropriate for the next “wars” to take place on the college football gridiron. In 1891, the next installment of the border battle began, as the Tigers would face the kU Jayhawks on a different field, the college football gridiron. This rivalry would also become the oldest college football rivalry west of the Mississippi River.
Perhaps because of this intense war between the states, the battle always took place at a neutral site. Most of the games took place in Kansas City, with one game moved to St. Joseph, MO. Due to legislation handed down by the NCAA, the game had to be moved to a new battlefield, the campus football fields. At this time, Missouri trailed in the series by a count of 12-3-5 so there was a need to renew some excitement to this series.
Chester L. Brewer, MU’s Director of Athletics, had a vision. His vision, to add some excitement to the rivalry, was to invite alumni to “come home” for the game. As part of this celebration of “coming home,” there was a parade and spirit rally to coincide with the actual game. In 1911, with a spirit rally, parade and more than 9,000 fans packed into Rollins Field (current site of Stankowski Field), the tradition of “Homecoming” was born at the University of Missouri and has served as a model for the various Homecoming celebrations that take place across the nation.
The Homecoming celebration at Mizzou has become a grand tradition and one of MU’s largest events, as well as in the nation. Recently, the University of Missouri’s Homecoming celebration was named the best Homecoming in the nation–the only school to hold such an honor–and has been named a model Homecoming program, by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
Carrying on the spirit of the event it started, Mizzou still has its annual parade and spirit rally. Homecoming at Mizzou has broken the world’s record for the largest peacetime blood drive on a college campus, and has included large emphasis on community service, campus decorations, talent competition, Homecoming hall of fame and many other activities.
Each year, thousands of students, alumni and friends “come home” to celebrate the tradition of Homecoming. We hope to see you all in the fall.