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Athletics and the American Way


Basketball, however, was another story. Based on our readings, what seems important to discuss re: women s basketball? From Cahn? From Primary Sources 1900s: ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Athletics and the American Way

Athletics and the American Way
  • Creating Proper Men and Women in the Industrial

History is CentralMay 19,2007
Todays Tentative Agenda
  • Give a quick overview of the period and some ways
    to conceptualize it.
  • Focus discussion on smaller number of issues
    regarding sports, and bring readings into the
  • Set the stage for teaching discussions by
    highlighting primary sources/illustrative quotes.
  • Just FYIyoull get copies of this presentation,
    so dont worry about getting all of the quotes,

Our Big Questions
  • How are todays sports modern, and how did they
    get that way?
  • What are the ideologies behind the creation of
    leisure spaces and organized sports, particularly
    school sports?
  • What were the different lessons sports were
    intended to teach to different groups?

What do your students talk about? What topics
interest them?
How Do You Teach this Era?
  • Does the State give you any direction?

Industrialization and Its Discontents
Scale of It All
New Immigrants
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Gilded Age Contrasts Breakers and Tenement
The New Woman
Jim Crow
The Promise of Progressivism
Two Thoughts
  • 1) Can overwhelm students with narrative of
    Massive Changes
  • 2) This is the creation of the world they
    knowthe massive changes dont seem radical

Our Challenge is to Personalize
  • Three ways to do this (at least)
  • 1) Primary sources related to traditional ways
    of telling the story
  • --images of tenement houses
  • --Hull House Maps
  • --letters
  • 2) Get better grasp of traditional narratives
  • --More anecdotes in your arsenal
  • --Local history Getting beyond textbook
  • --Use fiction to help tell story (Upton
    Sinclairs The Flivver King)

3) Relate the Big Stories to Students
Existing Interests
  • Dating
  • Sports/Leisure
  • The World Around Them

Your Reactions to, and Thoughts About, the
Readings? (What do you want to be sure we
Era of Organized Sport, 1890-1950
  • By looking at sporting development can teach
    about all of the topics weve identified
  • Wiebes Search for Order
  • The New Woman
  • Changing Racial Patterns
  • Bureaucracies and Organizations
  • Regionalism
  • Chandlers Visible Hand
  • Urbanization, Industrialization, Immigration
  • Commercialization and Distribution

Characteristics of Modern Sport (and Society)
  • Examples?
  • Secularism
  • Equality
  • Specialization
  • Rationalism
  • Bureaucratic Organization
  • Quantification
  • Record Keeping

Modern Sports as Urban Games
  • --From Stephen Hardys How Boston Played
  • Simplified, the argument suggests that as
    cities grew in size, population, and density,
    their inhabitants felt a longing for the outdoor
    life and recreational pastimes that were being
    swallowed up by the stultifying regime of the
    machine age.

Hardy Continues . . .
  • Just as things appeared bleakest, however, urban
    economic, technological, and demographic
    conditions formed the foundation for an arena of
    new leisure forms, adapted to the pace and
    lifestyle of American cities.

T. H. Benton, City Activities with Dance Hall
Parks, Amusement Parks, and Playgrounds
  • --How are they different?
  • --What are their purposes?
  • --Why are they located in specific places?

Ideals of Parks in late 1800s
  • Parks were to be the lungs of the city.
  • 1876 Boston proponent claimed that parks were
    reservoirs of oxygen and fresh air. They
    produce atmospheric currents which sweep through
    and purify the streets.
  • AND oxygen promoted virtue, as surely as
    sunlight paints the flowers and ripens the fruits
    of our gardens.

Early Central Park Map
What did designers want people to do in parks?
  • Be inspired and refreshed by nature.
  • --Especially (hopefully) the working class
  • The model was receptive recreation.
  • According to Olmstead, should be no harangues or
    loud outcries, or parades, marching, music, or

If Parks represented an elite ideal,
  • Then Playgrounds represented urban political
  • Workers didnt want to spend day off traveling
    across the city to be inspired by nature
  • Ethnic groups, neighborhood associations, city
    councilmen and others demanded local playgrounds

Ideologies of Architecture and Public Space
  • Kasson writes that the White City was intended to
    be the Embodiment of public order, cultural
    unity, and civic virtue, and animating vision of
    American cultural achievement for an age of
    disorder, strife, and vulgarity. (18)
  • The Midway was something completely different . .
    . It was the inspiration for Coney Island.

Entirely new model of democratic urban
The unofficial capital of the new mass culture
Stella, Battle of Lights, Coney Island Original
Size 6 ft 4 in x 7 ft 1/4 in
Reginald Marsh, George C. Tilyous Steeplechase
Park (1936) Marshmade the eroticism of Coney
Island explicit in a way that the photographer
could not. . . Delighting most in the fleshy
character of the scene (94)
Legacy of Coney Island
  • Kasson suggests the egalitarian spirit it
    fostered paradoxically served to reconcile
    visitors to the inequalities of society at large
  • Beneath the air of liberation, its pressures
    were profoundly conformist. (105)
  • A harbinger of the new mass culture, Coney
    Island lost its distinctiveness by the very
    triumph of its values. (112)
  • Was Kasson right to use this as a case study?
    What might scholars in the future examine to
    learn about us?

Other topics to explore re urban athletics (if
we have the time later)
  • Baseball as an urban game
  • Boxing as an immigrant/ethnic story

Using School Sports to Explore Important Issues
  • Three reasons to focus on school sports
  • Advocates left written records of their thoughts
    and purposes
  • Doing so highlights nicely other tensions in the
    era (esp. gender, race, class)
  • Easier to relate to students lives and

Masculinity and School Sports
  • The basic narrative
  • Based on Oxbridge model
  • --so crew was first real intercollegiate sport
  • --Harvard-Yale, 1852 (Harvard won)

  • By 1859, had a mini-conference
  • --Yale devoted more resources, trying to show
    that was a peer to the more prestigious Harvard
    (this pattern repeated)
  • --as many as 15,000 spectators at races

  • Baseball was next intercollegiate sport
  • --1859first game, connected to a regatta
  • --led to controversies over amateurism
  • --students earning money on the side as pros
  • 1893UVA team

  • Track and Field became an intercollegiate sport
    by 1870s
  • --again, tried to improve schools and national
    reputation by competing against Oxford and

  • First game in 1869
  • Yale was dominant early on, led by Walter Camp as
    player and then alumni/advisor
  • Camp is the father of modern football
  • -- Suggested marking lines on field (gridiron)
  • First downs, scrimmage lines,
  • Allowed blocking
  • Allowed tackling below waist
  • By 1890s, Yale football was seeing annual profits
    of more than 50,000

Maturation/Modernization of the game
  • Faculty committees replaced student control
  • Formalized rules (and committees to write them)
  • Athletic Conferences
  • Professional coaches (with high salaries and

Debates about the value of Football
  • Social Darwinists liked it, especially
    considering the student population at most
  • Univ. of Wisconsin President, football
    develops those characteristics that have made
    the Anglo-Saxon race pre-eminent.
  • Side noteif you want to discuss the intersection
    of race and athleticsyou must talk about the
    Jack Johnson-Jim Jeffries fight on July 4, 1910

Connecting Football and The Strenuous Life
  • Countered effects of a sedentary, bureaucratic
  • Addressed a generations fears that they could
    never match fathers who fought in the Civil War
  • Countered Victorian restrictions and
    feminization of culture

TRs Essays Chicago, 1899
  • I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble
    ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the
    life of toil and effort, of labor and strife to
    preach that highest form of success which comes,
    not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but
    to the man who does not shrink from danger, from
    hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of
    these wins the splendid triumph.

  • The timid man, the lazy man, the man who
    distrusts his country, the over-civilized man,
    who has lost the great fighting, masterful
    virtues, the ignorant man, and the man of dull
    mind . . . All these, of course, shrink from
    seeing the nation undertake its new duties
    shrink from seeing us build a navy and an army
    adequate to our needs . . . These are the men who
    fear the strenuous life, who fear the only
    national life which is really worth living.

TR and College Football
  • What does his essay on professional sports tell
    us about TRs attitudes toward college athletics?

Critics of Football
  • Detracted from educational mission (Frederick
    Jackson Turner made this argument)
  • Too commercialized
  • Too brutal and violent
  • Was unfavorably compared to boxing, because the
    right people were being corrupted by college

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  • 18 players killed in football games (3
  • 88 serious collegiate injuries
  • Several schools dropped football (Columbia,
    Stanford, California)
  • Lots of critical pressincluding photos of
    mangled players

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TR Gets Involved
  • Invited Yale, Harvard, Princeton to White House
    to discuss reform
  • Other meetings ? creation of NCAA
  • Rule changes ? opening up the game
  • Liberalized forward pass rules
  • Needed to get 10 yards, not 5 for first down

Enormous Popularity and Perceived Values Trump
  • 1903-Harvard spent 250,000 to build 38,000 seat
  • 1913Yale Bowl spent 400,000 to seat 67,000
  • 1920s saw seven more stadia seating 70,000
    completed on college campuses

Womens Athletic Options Inside and Outside of
  • Several bicycle crazes in the 1800s, the most
    important was in the 1890s
  • 1880s Safety bicycle had air-filled tires,
    ball bearings, and seat between the tires
    weighed less than 35 pounds
  • Production soared
  • 1890 27 Manufacturers made about 40,000
  • 1896 250 Manufacturers made more than 1,000,000

  • Had special frames for women, and many uses
  • According to 1896 Boston Herald
  • Matrons hoping to lose weight wearing sweater so
    warm that it really makes one hot to see it.
  • Young girl courting, in a divided skirt and
    white waist
  • The serious scorcher who much prefers to wear
    bloomers that resemble as nearly as possible the
    attire of the sterner sex, and who dotes on
    riding a diamond framed safety with the speed of
    a racing man.
  • There were even publicized races for women

With used bicycles still costing at least 15,
working class women were largely excluded from
this athletic endeavor.
  • Basketball, however, was another story.

Based on our readings, what seems important to
discuss re womens basketball?
  • From Cahn?
  • From Primary Sources

1900s Womens Basketball and Varsity Athletics
are Flourishing
Debates over the Merits and Dangers of Womens
  • Dudley Sargents Are Athletics Making Girls
    Masculine? Ladies Home Journal (March 1912).
  • 1900 University of Nebraska

  • --Played a different game in a different
    gymnasium (court below before 1938)
  • --See Womens Basketball Primary Source

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Anti-Competition Movement
  • Early 1920s, a national movement, led by women,
    shut down almost all womens competitive school
    and collegiate athletic programs.
  • --Was a reaction to contemporary developments
    in mens and womens intercollegiate athletics
    AND in womens industrial athletics.
  • --Wanted Controlled Athletics for Women
  • Controlled by Whom?
  • Which women need most protection?

Gertrude Ederle after Crossing English Chanel,
Lets look closely at the Resolutions of the
NAAFs Womens Division
Defining Feminine Characteristics1920s
  • Speaking bluntly, one of the most precious
    qualities of girls characters is endangered. . .
    . Games like basketball and baseball are
    combative sports. They develop ugly
    musclesmuscles ugly in girlsas well as scowling
    faces and the competitive spirit. As an
    inevitable consequence your girls may find it
    more difficult to attract the most worthy fathers
    for their children.

Alice Sefton, early 1930s
  • It is usually when they are exceeding their
    powers that women appear unlovely. When a woman
    sets her jaw in grim determination to win at any
    cost, or plays so long that lines of fatigue draw
    her face into contortions, and she loses control
    of her coordinations, then she sacrifices some of
    her beauty because she is violating principles of
    health. . . That look of ghastly strain, that
    awkwardness and lack of equilibrium and that
    breathlessness should not be chalked against the
    sport itself but must be prevented.

Play Days
  • Intercollegiate participation, but NOT competition

Some ways to earn points for Womens Athletic
letters under anti-competitive systems
  • Maryville College (TN)
  • Sleep from time lights cut out until 6 a.m.,
    during any 23 days out of 30 with the windows
    open top to bottom.
  • Bathe daily in water not too hot or too cold.
  • Dietary restrictions no coco cola is allowed at
    any time.
  • Students should evacuate themselves daily at
    regular time, if possible preferably after
  • Change underwear daily

Outside the Orthodoxy African American Womens
College Programs
The Challenge to the Orthodoxy
  • Context for the Concerning Competition document
  • Gladys Palmer at Ohio State
  • Student pressure and Faculty desires
  • Great political documentthey tread very
  • We agree on same principles
  • Can only make this suggestion because
    organizations have done such a fantastic job
    training people, etc.

Different Versions of Democratic Sport
  • Girl for every game, and a game for every girl
    with no special accommodations for, or attention
    to, better athletes
  • Vs.
  • It is impossible to legislate out of a person
    the instinctive urge to compete.

Elizabeth Halseys (Iowa University) Response
  • It is obvious that intercollegiate athletic
    competition at the present time has the same
    practical objective that it has for years i.e.,
    to determine winners and to make money.

These arent small stakes. . .
  • OSU is promoting an intensification of
    competition at a time when our society is in such
    great need of better techniques of cooperation.
    I believe that democracy can adapt to rapidly
    changing economic and social conditions. It
    must, however, move away from the cutthroat
    competition of unregulated individualism toward
    acceptance of disciplined self-regulation and
    cooperative planning. WOW!!
  • Wants true democratic athletics, and not
    athletic aristocracy.

The Golf Tournament
The Legacy . . . Title IX
Concluding Thoughts?