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It’s All About Football

It is that time of the year when the nation goes “Football Crazy” with an estimation that over 110 million will watch the Super Bowl.  With so much interest about the game, leagues, players, and recently the football itself, it is this writer’s thought that maybe there would be some interest also by our readers of a bit of local early history of the sport.  From the Society’s newspapers, photographic and yearbook collections and this writer’s research papers the following is offered.

From the late 1800s the local newspapers routinely provided their readers with national and college reports of the game.  College football was followed closely.  Scores and reports of the intensity of the game with numerous articles of player’s serious injuries and many deaths showed up in the headlines and reported in depth.  In a time-line format some of our gleaming’s:

  1. “Football by Electric Lights” – Chicago, Sept 19, 1893 – The Chicago Athletic football team met the New York Athletic eleven in the Stock pavilion last night, playing by electric light.

  2. The students of Brown University have raised $600 for the support of the football team during the present season.  (Oct, 1895)

  3. People generally are now putting football on the same plane as prizefighting.  In a prizefight it is hardly possible for more than two people to be killed during the game, while in a football scrap half a dozen or more may perish.  We may all live to see it prohibited.  (Dec. 1896)

  4. It is by no means certain that the legislature of Georgia was so very far out of the way in prohibiting match games of football.  Look at the picture of a football champion.  That seems enough to justify the Georgia law.  He wears earmuffs, leg protectors, a face mask, extra boxing to prevent his nose from being broken and heavy padding all over him to keep himself from being killed or maimed for life in the savage game.   No Indian torture test of physical endurance was ever more brutal or merciless than an exhibition match game of football today.  If it cannot be made less dangerous and savage, it ought to be abandoned.  (Dec, 1897)

1928 Proposed New High School

1928 Proposed New High School

“Objection to Football” – Our football rules, or those to which objection is specially made, are ingenious and cunning, but they lack common sense and intelligence.  They tend more and more to eliminate individual effort and to depend upon combinations whose effect shall be irresistible.  But what sport is there in being irresistible?  What sport demands is open competition of man against man, or, if you please, or equal numbers against each other.  Nothing could be more stupid and objectless than the heaped up rushes and collisions of our football matches.  The true game is to get the ball through the enemy’s goal, and any rule which tends to take the accomplishment of that aim from individuals and give it to masses is a rule in the wrong direction.   …as now played more brutal and dangerous game than prizefighting.  (Collier’s Weekly, Feb, 1898)

  1. “Female Football Club” – A football team composed entirely of girl’s has been organized in Dunellen, NJ.  (Nov, 1898)

  2. About a Westport, NY native – John Carver, Captain of the Union College football team.  “Umpired two exciting football games at the Essex County Fair.  During the season the Union College team played eleven games, losing two games, to Cornell and Williams.  (Dec. 1900)

  3. Kaiser Wilhelm has decided to put a stop to dueling in Germany, which is said to have become almost as dangerous over there as football in this country.  (Jan, 1902)

  4. “Harvard Bans Football” – Football has been abolished at Harvard, pending a reform in the game that will be acceptable to the board of overseers…..President Charles W. Eliot said that he would never consent to intercollegiate football being resumed at the university until it had been demonstrated in actual play that the objection