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Football and the American Character
IMPRIMUS - Hillsdale College ^ | September 2013 | John J. Miller Director, Herbert H. Dow II Program in American Journalism Hillsdale College

Posted on 10/24/2013 6:24:33 AM PDT by knarf

I do not give a snap for a good man who can’t fight and hold his own in the world. A citizen has got to be decent of course. That is the first requisite; but the second, and just as important, is that he shall be efficient, and he can’t be efficient unless he is manly. Nothing has impressed me more in meeting college graduates during the fifteen years I have been out of college than the fact that on the average the men who have counted most have been those who had sound bodies.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: football; sports; teddyroosevelt
Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the following credit line is used: “Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.”


The article is excellent, but what caught my eye was Teddy's comment about being a man and and an American

It is the missing element in America these days

1 posted on 10/24/2013 6:24:33 AM PDT by knarf
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To: knarf

Wow ... how opportune is THAT ... sitting on top of an NFL thread ... ?


2 posted on 10/24/2013 6:26:00 AM PDT by knarf (`)
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To: knarf; big'ol_freeper; shove_it; TrueKnightGalahad; Larry Lucido; Diplomat; RockinRight; ...
Re: Wow ... how opportune is THAT ... sitting on top of an NFL thread ... ?

Gadzooks! It is called... perfect timing--

3 posted on 10/24/2013 6:29:38 AM PDT by Bender2 ("I've got a twisted sense of humor, and everything amuses me." RAH Beyond this Horizon)
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To: Bender2

Thanx, Bender2


4 posted on 10/24/2013 6:35:13 AM PDT by knarf (`)
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To: knarf

Attributed to General George C. Marshall during WW II: “I want an officer
for a secret and dangerous mission. I want a West Point football player.”


5 posted on 10/24/2013 6:38:29 AM PDT by Dr. Pritchett
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To: Dr. Pritchett
Attributed to General George C. Marshall during WW II: “I want an officer for a secret and dangerous mission. I want a West Point football player.”

Commemorated on a plaque at the Cadets' field, Michie stadium.

6 posted on 10/24/2013 6:43:04 AM PDT by Rummyfan (Iraq: it's not about Iraq anymore, it's about the USA!)
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To: Bender2

MacArthur on athletics:

“Upon fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that upon other fields, on other days, will bear the fruits of victory.”

Why does it not surprise me that the current CinC has a differing view?


7 posted on 10/24/2013 6:45:24 AM PDT by Dr. Pritchett
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To: Dr. Pritchett
Teddy Roosevelt ...


In 1895, shortly before he became president of the New York City police commission, he wrote a letter to Walter Camp that read as follows:

I am very glad to have a chance of expressing to you the obligation which I feel all Americans are under to you for your championship of athletics. The man on the farm and in the workshop here, as in other countries, is apt to get enough physical work; but we were tending steadily in America to produce . . . sedentary classes . . . and from this the athletic spirit has saved us. Of all games I personally like foot ball the best, and I would rather see my boys play it than see them play any other. I have no patience with the people who declaim against it because it necessitates rough play and occasional injuries. The rough play, if confined within manly and honorable limits, is an advantage. It is a good thing to have the personal contact about which the New York Evening Post snarls so much, and no fellow is worth his salt if he minds an occasional bruise or cut. Being near-sighted I was not able to play foot ball in college, and I never cared for rowing or base ball, so that I did all my work in boxing and wrestling. They are both good exercises, but they are not up to foot ball . . . .

I am utterly disgusted with the attitude of President Eliot and the Harvard faculty about foot ball . . . .

I do not give a snap for a good man who can’t fight and hold his own in the world. A citizen has got to be decent of course. That is the first requisite; but the second, and just as important, is that he shall be efficient, and he can’t be efficient unless he is manly. Nothing has impressed me more in meeting college graduates during the fifteen years I have been out of college than the fact that on the average the men who have counted most have been those who had sound bodies.

8 posted on 10/24/2013 6:58:01 AM PDT by knarf (`)
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To: Bender2

9 posted on 10/24/2013 7:12:09 AM PDT by shove_it (long ago Orwell and Rand warned us of 0bama’s America)
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To: knarf

Interesting perspective, but I’d make the case that there is a huge difference between football as an athletic competition in days gone by and football (professional and college football, but then I repeat myself) as the center of an enormous industry built around the vicarious entertainment of people.


10 posted on 10/24/2013 7:46:54 AM PDT by Alberta's Child ("I've never seen such a conclave of minstrels in my life.")
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To: Alberta's Child
Oh, I agree.

Imprimus is a free publication from Hillsdale and well worth having it in the bathroom ... I mean, library.

I'm somewhat stuck in the past anyway. Much of what I read here, I react/respond with my Norman Rockwell mentality.

And football is, for all practical purposes .. the modern day gladiatorial ring.

11 posted on 10/24/2013 7:57:16 AM PDT by knarf (`)
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To: shove_it
Re:

Gadzooks-- isn't it a shame that Teddy has to looking on... as The Obamanation craps all over the Constitution?

Yeah, Bendy, it is enough to drive a good man... to drink!

Right on, Ulysses! And his Obamacare website... is screwing up MY internet!

12 posted on 10/24/2013 8:37:33 AM PDT by Bender2 ("I've got a twisted sense of humor, and everything amuses me." RAH Beyond this Horizon)
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To: knarf
I've always wondered why football? Why is football America's most popular game? I'm not even much of a football fan anymore, although I played it when younger and used to watch games back to back like everyone else. American football is totally different from the football played around the world called soccer. Much of the game of American football consists of players crashing into other players many times causing considerable physical harm to one or the other players.

My answer is that Americans love that kind of direct action a lot more than other people. The only other people who love American-style football about as much as Americans are Canadians who have their own rules. And the national sport of Canada is hockey which is another rough game where players are allowed to smash into other players. Canadians (although many will hate the comparison) are the foreign people most similar to Americans in temperament. Is our love of football one big difference between Americans and foreigners? Maybe. Direct action, with a bit of occasional skill and trickery, as compared to games with more evasive action mixed with subtlety and skill?

13 posted on 10/24/2013 8:45:30 AM PDT by driftless2
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To: knarf

Athletic competition in HS and college is the left’s worst enemy. Look for a lot more of this to come.


14 posted on 10/24/2013 8:46:32 AM PDT by onedoug
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To: driftless2; onedoug
Americans like a good fight.

I don't know about other nations, but our technology allowed television to the country long before other nations .. and I had the Friday Night Fights with my dad and of course .. wrestling (with Killer Kowalsky, the Claw Hold and Haystack Calhoun and ... )

Football IS legal Gladiator matches.


I didn't post this IMPRIMUS article to compare/contrast football and ... rather .. the mindset of a man that at least had a healthy sense of what a man is.

Wasn't it under or because of .. TR that we got The Boy Scouts ?

15 posted on 10/24/2013 8:59:17 AM PDT by knarf (`)
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To: driftless2

Part of it is that football is perfectly structured for TV. One of the basic rules for writing TV drama is “tell them what they’re about to see, show them, tell them what they just saw”. Owing to the defined play nature of football that’s exactly what happens, the commentators tell you what they think the next play will be (”look for a down field play on this on”, “this is the field position where a lot of coaches like trick plays” etc), then the play happens, then they dissect the play until teams break the huddle. Thanks to the one game a week structure it even works that way in the macro sense, Thursday through Sunday morning they talk about what’s going to happen in the games, then the games happen, then Monday through Wednesday the discussion is what happened in the games. That structure makes football instantly familiar to us even if we haven’t seen the game before, we’ve been entertained by that structure most of our lives, it’s comfortable.

On a side note soccer isn’t always football, in countries where it’s not the most popular sport it’s soccer. A friend of mine from England pointed this out, in most countries the most popular game is called football, in Australia “football” is Ausie rules, in New Zealand “football” is rugby, even in Canada where hockey is king “football” is CFL and the game with the black and white ball is soccer. Which brings up an interesting question on why the human mind likes the word “football” (translated to the appropriate language) so much.


16 posted on 10/24/2013 9:00:51 AM PDT by discostu (This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.)
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To: onedoug

Athletic competition in HS and college is the left’s worst enemy. Look for a lot more of this to come.

...I would stipulate, as I have often done on this forum, that the progressive elites, who run American education, are steeped in a vituperative feminist worldview...though these elites might attempt not to hate boys, they can’t help themselves...they do hate them...

...such being the case, athletic competition is not their worst enemy...boys only competition is...if we were to allow girls to play football, and sanitize the game so as not to maim them, our progressive scholars would have no problem whatsoever with football...


17 posted on 10/24/2013 10:34:54 AM PDT by IrishBrigade
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To: discostu
Soccer is a term invented by the Brits as a short form of "Association Football."
18 posted on 10/24/2013 10:37:28 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: driftless2
Many of the English-speaking or former British empire countries rejected soccer for one reason or another. We have American football.

There's also Canadian Football, Gaelic Football, Australian Football, two different kinds of Rugby (popular in New Zealand and at one time in South Africa). Cricket is more popular in the West Indies and on the Indian Subcontinent.

I don't know why American football is so popular in the US, but it looks like the English had great skill developing games that were more interesting than soccer -- which most of the rest of the world adopted as their favorite sport.

19 posted on 10/24/2013 11:04:59 AM PDT by x
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To: knarf; driftless2
Two things:

1. Whatever he said in 1895, I think TR once threatened to work to ban college football because of the high mortality rate among players.

2. When you talk about Canadians and Americans and rough sports, don't forget that the Brits invented and the other Anglo-Saxon nations play rugby. (Of course, so do the French.)

20 posted on 10/24/2013 11:10:12 AM PDT by untenured
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To: x
I don't know why American football is so popular in the US, but it looks like the English had great skill developing games that were more interesting than soccer -- which most of the rest of the world adopted as their favorite sport.

The English also invented most of the racquet sports (there is a bit of dispute about tennis, but not squash or badminton), and the Scots invented golf. The peoples of the island of Britain have been the greatest inventors of sports in history.

21 posted on 10/24/2013 11:12:44 AM PDT by untenured
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To: untenured

If you read the article ... it was the other way around ... he defended the sport against a Yale guy (who wanted it banned ... or at least pansified)


22 posted on 10/24/2013 11:17:29 AM PDT by knarf (`)
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To: untenured

They invent them, then they stink at them.


23 posted on 10/24/2013 11:18:43 AM PDT by discostu (This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.)
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To: knarf
Thanks for scolding me to read the article, I appear to have been telling my students in one of my classes something false for several years. Here is a link to an WSJ review of a book that tells the whole story.
24 posted on 10/24/2013 11:31:02 AM PDT by untenured
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To: untenured
I wasn't scolding ... but that is a good point.

An American with traditional American values has a sense of right and wrong that we accept and have no problem with identifying ... even publically.

It's one of those things I always try to explain, but I can never find the words, nor draw a scene.

Thanx, untenured.

25 posted on 10/24/2013 11:35:17 AM PDT by knarf (`)
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To: untenured

True to some extent, but the Brits still like sports that are less collision-oriented than American football and ice hockey. Rugby is similar to American football, but you still don’t have the kind of injuries associated with American football. Maybe someone can correct me, but I’ve never heard of the kind of brain injuries from rugby that American football produces. I’m sure rugby players have their share of injuries, and it would be interesting to compare their types of injuries with American football players.


26 posted on 10/24/2013 12:27:54 PM PDT by driftless2
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To: knarf

There is something strange about the author’s information.

In my copy of Imprimis the luncheon speech delivered at Hillsdale College on 9/9/2013 was given by John J. Miller, Director, Herbert H. Dow II Program in American Journalism.


27 posted on 11/06/2013 3:00:12 AM PST by IbJensen (Liberals are like Slinkies, good for nothing, but you smile as you push them down the stairs.)
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