King Football: Sport and Spectacle in the Golden Age of Radio and Newsreels, Movies and Magazines, the Weekly & the Daily Press

By Michael Oriard | Go to book overview

6
Sanctioning
Savagery

In 1939, two articles in the New York Times Magazine heralded the beginning of a new football season. The first, by L. H. Robbins on 8 October, welcomed the college game as the annual renewal of a particularly American form of ritual and mass excitement. Barely acknowledging the teams on the field, Robbins recreated the sport’s more important elements: the atmosphere and spectacle experienced even by fans “who miss the fine points of the game”:

The cheer leaders turning cartwheels on the turf. The mascot mules, lion
cubs, bulldogs and what not. The sideline benches with their coaches,
blanketed reserves and team captains of bygone days. The water-wagon
squads, the bands and the banners. The scoreboard scouts flashing their
signal cards. The mysterious hut atop the west stand where the fourth
estate writes and broadcasts. The brewery-sponsored plane circling over-
head.

Then the spectator throng. Beauty in fox and mink, and chivalry in
coonskin. Whiskered old grads and whiskied young grads. Sub-freshman
and sub-debs. People eating sandwiches. People in other people’s seats.
People imploring other people, “Please sit down!” … And below, on the
white-striped green, the half-dozen officials who risk their middle-aged
lives and limbs to run the game, and the twenty-two lusty lads who play

-199-

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King Football: Sport and Spectacle in the Golden Age of Radio and Newsreels, Movies and Magazines, the Weekly & the Daily Press
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction 1
  • I - In the Kingdom of Football 21
  • 1 - Reading, Watching, & Listening to Football 23
  • 2 - Local Football 65
  • 3 - Who Cares about Reform? 101
  • 4 - Players’ or Coaches’ Whose Game Is It? 126
  • 5 - Gridiron, U.S.a 162
  • 6 - Sanctioning Savagery 199
  • II - What We Think about When We Think about Football 223
  • 7 - Class? 225
  • 8 - Ethnicity 255
  • 9 - Race 283
  • 10 - Masculinity 328
  • Epilogue- Into the Age of Television 364
  • Appendix A - Football Films, 1920–1960 371
  • Appendix B - Football Covers on the Saturday Evening Post and Collier’s, 1920–1960 374
  • Appendix C - Football Fiction in the Saturday Evening Post and Collier’s, 1920–1960 378
  • Notes 383
  • Bibliography 435
  • Index 471
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