Walter Camp: Football and the Modern Man

By Julie Des Jardins | Go to book overview

11
Changing of the Guard, 1910–1916

AT FIFTY, WALTER CAMP STILL felt spry, yet while watching him on the sidelines of a Michigan game, one reporter decided that he looked more like a mature English gentleman than an athlete. He showed up at football contests with a fuzzy slouch hat over his balding head, and he carried a cane; he did not need it, but the accouterment completed his distinguished look. His mustache, though pronounced, no longer obscured the wrinkles forming around his mouth. He played golf to relieve the tensions of rule- and watchmaking, all the while thinking about the long-term effects of gridiron play. Were motorcars, rich diets, and sedentary, stressful jobs causing his generation to degenerate? While he pondered this question more than most, he refused to abandon his cigarettes. When he was in college, only “dudes” and “fops” smoked cigarettes rather than cigars, but he had since taken on the habits of the younger crowd, as had most men of his college days.1

Between 1872 and 1909, the record of Yale football was a staggering 324 wins, 17 losses, and 18 ties. The last team of this run went undefeated and was captained by the Bonesman and fullback Ted Coy, a specimen of physical culture loved by the camera. With his light, wavy hair and beautifully proportioned 190-pound frame, his signature running style resembled piston rods shooting forward; he was presumably Camp’s inspiration for the novel The Substitute. Five of his teammates joined

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