Now you know
An enterprising grad student's animal-behavior experiment was the subject of a story told by a student tour guide at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology a story that is now widely repeated on the Internet. Throughout the summer, the story goes, an MIT student traveled to nearby Harvard Stadium with a bag of birdseed, a small yellow cloth, and a whistle. He'd stand on the field, blow the whistle, throw the cloth in the air, and scatter the seed on the field. The many birds living in and around the stadium soon got the idea. They flocked onto the field when they saw the cloth and heard the whistle. Fall arrived, and with it Harvard University's first home football game. And when a referee spotted the first rules infraction, he blew his whistle, threw his yellow penalty flag in the air, and.... According to MIT officials, however, the story is a total fabrication.
Source: Tour of MIT, summer 1988; discounted by officials at the MIT Museum in Cambridge, Mass.