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History > Sports History
From Show to Sport
Guts and glory, bulls and barrel racing, spurs and scars are all part of rodeo, a sport of epic legends. Cowboys and cowgirls use brain and brawn to contend for prizes and placement, but more often than not, it is the prestige of honorable competition that spurs them on. College Rodeo covers the history of the sport on college campuses from the first organized contest in 1920 to the national championship of 2003. In the early years of the twentieth century, a growing number of kids from farms and ranches attended college, many choosing the land grant institutions that allowed them to prepare for agricultural careers back home. They brought with them a love for the skills, challenges, and competition they had known—a taste for rodeo. The first-ever college rodeo was held at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. It offered bronco busting, goat roping, saddle racing, polo, a greased pig contest, and country ballads from a quartet. The rodeo was a fund-raising effort that grew enormously popular; by its third year, the rodeo at Texas A&M drew some fifteen hundred people. The idea spread to other campuses, and nineteen years later, the first intercollegiate rodeo with eleven colleges and universities competing was held in 1939 at the ranch arena of an entrepreneur near Victorville, California. Seldom does a college sport exist for eighty years without having a book written about it, but college rodeo has. Sylvia Gann Mahoney has written the first history of the sport, tracing its growth parallel to the development of professional rodeo and the growth of the organizational structure that governs college rodeo. Mahoney draws on personal interviews as well as the archives of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association and newspaper accounts from participating schools and their hometowns. Mahoney chronicles the events, profiles winners, and analyzes the organizational efforts that have contributed to the colorful history of college rodeo. She traces the changing role of women, noting their victories that were ignored by much of the contemporary press in the early days of the sport. College Rodeo highlights outstanding individuals through extensive interviews, giving credit to the pioneers of college rodeo. This book includes rare photographs of rodeo teams, champions, and rodeo queens, blended with the true life details of sweat and tears that make intercollegiate rodeo such a popular sport.
Sportswriters and the Long Campaign to Desegregate Baseball
From Olympic Gold to the Silver Screen
Dean Smith has taken falls from galloping horses, engaged in fistfights with Kirk Douglas and George C. Scott, donned red wig and white tights to double Maureen O’Hara, and taught Goldie Hawn how to talk like a Texan.
He’s dangled from a helicopter over the skyscrapers of Manhattan while clutching a damsel in distress, hung upside down from a fake blimp 200 feet over the Orange Bowl, and replicated one of the most famous scenes in movie history by climbing on a thundering team of horses to stop a runaway stagecoach.
Cowboy Stuntman chronicles the life and achievements of this colorful Texan and Olympic gold medal winner who spent a half century as a Hollywood stuntman and actor, appearing in ten John Wayne movies and doubling for a long list of actors as diverse as Robert Culp, Michael Landon, Steve Martin, Strother Martin, Robert Redford, and Roy Rogers.
Baseball Transforms Itself, 1903-1953
At a time when many baseball fans wish for the game to return to a purer past, G. Edward White shows how seemingly irrational business decisions, inspired in part by the self-interest of the owners but also by their nostalgia for the game, transformed baseball into the national pastime. Not simply a professional sport, baseball has been treated as a focus of childhood rituals and an emblem of American individuality and fair play throughout much of the twentieth century. It started out, however, as a marginal urban sport associated with drinking and gambling. White describes its progression to an almost mythic status as an idyllic game, popular among people of all ages and classes. He then recounts the owner's efforts, often supported by the legal system, to preserve this image.
Baseball grew up in the midst of urban industrialization during the Progressive Era, and the emerging steel and concrete baseball parks encapsulated feelings of neighborliness and associations with the rural leisure of bygone times. According to White, these nostalgic themes, together with personal financial concerns, guided owners toward practices that in retrospect appear unfair to players and detrimental to the progress of the game. Reserve clauses, blacklisting, and limiting franchise territories, for example, were meant to keep a consistent roster of players on a team, build fan loyalty, and maintain the game's local flavor. These practices also violated anti-trust laws and significantly restricted the economic power of the players. Owners vigorously fought against innovations, ranging from the night games and radio broadcasts to the inclusion of African-American players. Nonetheless, the image of baseball as a spirited civic endeavor persisted, even in the face of outright corruption, as witnessed in the courts' leniency toward the participants in the Black Sox scandal of 1919.
White's story of baseball is intertwined with changes in technology and business in America and with changing attitudes toward race and ethnicity. The time is fast approaching, he concludes, when we must consider whether baseball is still regarded as the national pastime and whether protecting its image is worth the effort.
From Antiquity to World War ll
A comprehensive history of skiing from its earliest origins to the outbreak of World War II, this book traces the transformation of what for centuries remained an exclusively utilitarian practice into the exhilarating modern sport we know today. E. John B. Allen places particular emphasis on the impact of culture on the development of skiing, from the influence of Norwegian nationalism to the role of the military in countries as far removed as Austria, India, and Japan. Although the focus is on Europe, Allen's analysis ranges all over the snow-covered world, from Algeria to China to Zakopane. He also discusses the participation of women and children in what for much of its history remained a male-dominated sport. Of all the individuals who contributed to the modernization of skiing before World War II, Allen identifies three who were especially influential: Fridtjof Nansen of Norway, whose explorations on skis paradoxically inspired the idea of skiing as sport; Arnold Lunn of England, whose invention of downhill skiing and the slalom were foundations of the sport's globalization; and Hannes Schneider, whose teachings introduced both speed and safety into the sport. Underscoring the extent to which ancient ways persisted despite modernization, the book ends with the Russo-Finnish War, a conflict in which the Finns, using equipment that would have been familiar a thousand years before, were able to maneuver in snow that had brought the mechanized Soviet army to a halt. More than fifty images not only illustrate this rich history but provide further opportunity for analysis of its cultural significance.
Tackling Life and the NFL
In a quintessentially American game, for an organization often called America's Team, Dat Nguyen stands as the first player of Vietnamese descent ever to play in the NFL. Yet if asked for his job description, he would probably answer simply, "I tackle." He tackled so well at Rockport-Fulton (Texas) High School that he earned a scholarship to Texas A&M University, becoming the first Vietnamese American football player in school history. As part of the storied "Wrecking Crew," Nguyen's tackling earned him All-American honors and led the Aggies to their first Big 12 title. And, even though he was once deemed too small to play middle linebacker in the NFL, he has earned All-Pro recognition with the Dallas Cowboys. For Dat Nguyen, though, tackling the various obstacles of life—not just running backs—gives him the most pride. He learned how to tackle life from his parents, who narrowly escaped from the North Vietnamese Army in 1975. Nguyen offers the story of his faith, his family, and his career, a true story of the American dream lived out, as an inspiration to others. He recounts his father's decision to flee Vietnam; the boat trip that took his family to freedom; and their eventual settling in Rockport, Texas, where a community of Vietnamese shrimpers established an economic livelihood using skills brought from the old country. He describes the racism his family encountered while he was growing up and how the friendship of one young Caucasian boy and his family overcame prejudice through an invitation to participate in sports. Nguyen's insightful look into the life of a big-time football player offers first-hand glimpses of the personalities and playing (or coaching) styles of many celebrated stars of college football and the NFL. His stories offer excitement, romance (as he pursues his college sweetheart, now his wife), faith, fatherhood, and humor. Dat is a lively, engaging story of growing up in a refugee family, of big-time football, and of human struggle and success.
How the General Changed My Life
What happens when a 6' 9" kid from Lobelville, Tennessee is recruited by legendary basketball coach Bob Knight? Kirk Haston’s life was changed forever with just a two-minute phone call. Containing previously unknown Knight stories, anecdotes, and choice quotes, fans will gain an inside look at the notoriously private man and his no-nonsense coaching style. Which past Hoosier basketball greats returned to talk to and practice with current teams? How did Knight mentally challenge his players in practices? How did the players feel when Knight was fired? In this touching and humorous book, Haston shares these answers and more, including his own Hoosier highs—shooting a famous three-point winning shot against number one ranked Michigan State—and lows—losing his mom in a heartbreaking tornado accident. Days of Knight is a book every die-hard IU basketball fan will treasure.
A Postmodern Analysis
This groundbreaking collection challenges the accepted principles and practices of sport history and encourages sport historians to be more adventurous in their representations of the sporting past in the present. Encompassing a wide range of critical approaches, leading international sport historians reflect on theory, practice, and the future of sport history. They survey the field of sport history since its inception, examine the principles that have governed the production of knowledge in sport history, and address the central concerns raised by the postmodern challenge to history. Sharing a common desire to critique contemporary practices in sport history, the contributors raise the level of critical analysis of the production of historical knowledge, provide examples of approaches by those who have struggled with or adapted to the postmodern challenge, and open up new avenues for future sport historians to follow.
Men's and Women's College Athletics during the Great Depression
University leaders used their athletic programs to combat this crisis and to preserve “traditional” American values and institutions, prescribing different models for men and women. Educators emphasized the competitive nature of men’s athletics, seeking to inculcate male college athletes (and their audiences) with individualistic, masculine values in order to reinforce the existing American political and economic systems.
In stark contrast, the prevailing model of women’s college athletics taught a communal form of democracy. Strongly supported by almost all female athletic leaders, this “a girl for every game, and a game for every girl” model had replaced the more competitive model that had been popular until the 1920s. The new programs denied women individual attention and high-level competition, and they promoted the development of what was considered proper femininity.
Whatever larger purposes these programs were intended to serve, they could not have survived without vocal supporters. Democratic Sports tells the important story of how men’s and women’s college athletic programs survived, and even thrived, during the most challenging decade of the twentieth century.