Five Things Outsiders Don’t Get About The Hampton-Howard Rivalry

Howard and Hampton are two of the top historically black universities in America. They have fought head to head in academics, sports, campus activities and social life for decades. 

Athletics at HBCUs date back to the 1800’s. Although students at each school understand the deep, rich history of the rivalry, those who do not attend either school may find it hard to understand why there is constant competition between the two.

1. Outsiders don’t understand why there is a HU-HU rivalry in the first place. Being that both schools are nicknamed HU, they are often compared to one another. 

We pride ourselves on originality. So when we say we are the real HU, we are saying that we started it, and that were first, says Amias Callender, a 2nd-year MBA major at Hampton from Boston, MA.

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2. Most outsiders don’t even understand what the schools are fighting for. They may ask, “What are the benefits of being the real HU?” Or “What are the benefits of being better than the other?”

The answer is simple, pride.

As Hamptonians, we want Hampton to be considered the better HU and the only “HU”. We want our sports and recreational teams to be better, our homecoming to be better, and at flagship games such as The AT&T Nations Football Classic we want our bands, cheerleaders and dancers to outperform our rival schools, because we want people to only refer to Hampton as HU. We dont want another school, with the same nickname to be on our level.

3. The third thing outsiders wouldnt understand about the HU-HU rivalry is who is actually the better HU. Hampton and Howard have swapped positions on the HBCU rankings list for years. First Howard was considered the second best HBCU, but then Hampton ended up taking its place. In a recent ranking of Best Colleges by US Education News, Howard ranks second and Hampton third among HBCU’s in 2016 (Spelman is first).

The U.S. News rankings system is based on two fundamental criteria: It relies on quantitative measures that education experts have proposed as reliable indicators of academic quality, and it’s based on our nonpartisan view of what matters in education. 

The truth is, both HBCUs have had their ups and downs, but both remain elite among the 80 schools ranked. There are things Hampton has that Howard doesnt and vice versa. However, students continue to argue over social media about who is the real “HU”.

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We shouldnt compare ourselves to Howard because the only thing we have in common with them is the name. Howard is in more of a city-like environment. Hampton is not. Howard has more students than Hampton as well, says Kamali Lowe, computer science major, nano science minor from Brooklyn, New York.

Howard has a 10,265 students enrolled, while Hampton has less than half of that number with 4,397 total enrollment. 

4. Students from both schools crowd the stadium during the HU-HU football and basketball games. You have students jumping on three-hour bus rides just to see who is going to rise to the top. High profile games and competitions in the major sports just add intensity to the rivalry. Beating Howard gives Hamptonians HBCU bragging rights.

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5. The fifth thing outsiders wouldnt understand about the HU-HU rivalry is that students from both schools are angry at the other. We are angry if the other school has a better artist singing at Homecoming; We are angry if the other school has a better social life; We are angry if the other school has a higher job placement rate after graduation. At the end of the day, comparisons between two schools near the top of the elite HBCU list are inevitable.

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The AT&T Nations Football Classic on September 17th is another vehicle used to create competition between the two HUs, promoting the agendas and athletic superiority of each school and another point of comparison when trying to decide which university is more deserving of the name.  


Tickets for the AT&T Nations Football Classic begin at $25 and are available at For addition information, please visit

The AT&T Nation’s Football Classic is a black college football game held annually at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Now in its sixth year, the 2016 game features Howard University against Hampton University and will be played on Saturday, September 17.

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