Goddamn Hippies! The History of Football at Sarah Lawrence College

Sampson bowl circa 1986. Courtesy of Sarah lawrence archives. 

Sampson bowl circa 1986. Courtesy of Sarah lawrence archives. 

It’s no surprise to anyone that there isn’t an active football team at Sarah Lawrence. There never really was a real football team, but there was flag football that began in the year 1969 with an 18-6 loss against Vassar College. The team consisted of roughly six men. Certainly no Giants, the SLC “Green Machine” (as it became known) was less competitive than it was entertaining. The only real rivalry was with Vassar College -- another predominantly female school.

“We’re number one! Go Vassar!” shouted the Vassar cheerleaders after the “Big Pink” (Vassar’s team) took home the victory in 1969. That was, disappointingly, touch football. The surprising thing is that both SLC and Vassar actually had cheerleaders. It’s not that cheerleaders really make a difference for a six-man team, but the entertainment factor for the over 300 spectators present at the 1970 flag-football match with Vassar, I can only assume, was much higher. Flag-football, at least, has the potential to get aggressive, whereas two-hand touch will leave all players without concussions.

That year, 1970, Bronxville, New York –– the Green Machine got its revenge on the Big Pink. The match clearly was a failure defensively for both sides, the ending score being 59 - 52, but that didn’t stop the Green Machine from suffering a humbling loss against Iona College’s second string varsity team later that year.

Students playing football, undated. courtesy of sarah lawrence college archives. 

Students playing football, undated. courtesy of sarah lawrence college archives. 

The Vassar Big Pink won again in 1971. “That was not due to their expert playing, but to the fact that those beastly Vassar players didn’t have any manners at all, and the SLC boys were too polite to break the rules of fair play,” says, Annie Roddick.  “Those Goddamn Hippies,” she might have added. That particular game was clearly a highlight for fans. It was covered in the November 1971 issue of Sports Illustrated; the article was called “The Best of the Powder Puffs.” Almost flattering, it inspired a nine-year dry spell from 1972 to 1981 when the team was inactive.

Back again, 1981, SLC boys beat Vassar in an all-out defeat of 7-0. The girls took home the real trophy, having started a more competitive football team than the boys, by beating Vassar College 19-0 and winning again in 1982 against the same team.

The last game was played by the Green Machine against Vassar on November 6, 1982. Vassar won, which, one might assume, might inspire the revival of the team if for nothing else than common decency. That, however, is yet to be seen. Look no further than 2017 for the “Goddamn Hippies” to perform a full-blown massacre of the Vassar College football team in a riveting game with an ultimate score of 33-0, and 12, well-deserved, concussions.

Thomas Nicklin ‘19

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