Posts Tagged ‘Mitchell Archette’

Amateur Runners Competed for Prizes

July 16, 2010

The photo in the previous post turns out to be from the 12-mile “Modified Marathon” held in New York City on May 6, 1911. Lewis Tewanima (#375) finished first and  teammate Mitchell Arquette (#376) came in fifth out of a field of over 1,000 runners. Both received solid silver gold-lined loving cups as prizes from The Evening Mail, sponsor of the big race that was covered by all the New York City newspapers. The New York Times article titled, “Little Tewanima Wins Marathon,” began “Tewanina, a ward of the Nation and a student at the Carlisle Indian School, yesterday demonstrated the superiority of the red man as a foot runner over a cosmopolitan field which numbered nearly 1,000 athletes of all sorts and conditions in the so-called modified Marathon — the distance being twelve miles — under the auspices of The Evening Mail.” The crowd viewing the race was estimated at over 1,000,000 people.

Tewanima, along with the rest of the stronger runners, started at the back of the pack but soon worked his way to the front. He pulled away down the homestretch along Broadway, “…drawing away with each hundred yards covered. His teammate, Arquette, began to feel the ill-advised efforts to keep up with the lead man, and he slowly but surely fell back from the first bunch….When he [Tewanima] showed on the Mall, the City Hall plaza re-echoed with the plaudits in his favor. Seldom has an athlete received such a public ovation. He took the whole scene as a matter of course, and upon learning his time, grunted, shrugged his shoulders, and walked to the dressing rooms, weighed down somewhat by a massive cup, which was his winning portion.”

The New York Herald coverage featured a cartoon of Tewanima that was reproduced in the Carlisle Indian School newspaper. Shown in profile, Tewanima sports a diamond stickpin in his necktie, something he probably couldn’t afford from his earnings as a student. It isn’t clear yet if it was a prize for winning this race or a previous one. Regardless, he and the others clearly competed for prizes.


Amateurism in the 1912 Olympics

July 13, 2010

As part of the run up for her book, Kate Buford wrote an article for The Gilder Kehrman Institute of American History that is posted on its History Now web site. “Amateurism and Jim Thorpe at the Fifth Olympiad” includes the following statements:

A French baron, Pierre Frédy de Coubertin, founded the modern Olympic movement in part as a way to inject the authentic ancient Greek ideal of a sound mind in a sound body into modern nations in danger, he believed, of becoming physically unfit and thus morally soft. By 1912, for the Fifth modern Olympiad in Stockholm, each competitor had to sign an entry form affirming that he or she was an amateur—“one who has never” competed for money or prize, competed against a professional, taught in any branch of athletics for payment (i.e., been a coach) or “sold, pawned, hired out, or exhibited for payment” any prize.

After reading this, I conclude that very few American athletes would have been considered to be amateurs by these standards. Never having competed for money or prize would have eliminated most of them. Winners of events at major track meets were often awarded prizes in those days. Gold watches were one of the more common prizes. Silver loving cups were probably more common, and medals were likely the most common prize. Gold watches, silver cups and medals sound like things of value to me.

If memory serves (my research sources aren’t available to me right now), the Penn Relay Carnival awarded prizes to winning relay teams. Also, I think there is a famous photograph of the great distance runner from Carlisle Indian School, Lewis Tewanima, standing next to a table loaded with prizes he won in races. No complaints were filed about his, or other athletes’, having competed for such prizes.