Posts Tagged ‘University of Chicago’

Time Out for Photos

August 8, 2012

Tex Noel just sent me a link to a Library of Congress website that contains digital images, some of which are of Indian football teams. The link he sent was

Tex suggested that I click on football, which I did. The problem is that I’m easily distracted. Before I could see anything related to Indian football teams, the term “Early films” jumped out at me. The first one, listed just below the sheet music for On Wisconsin!, is moving picture footage (silent of course) from the 1903 Chicago-Michigan game shot by the Edison studio. I doubt seriously if Thomas Edison himself was directly involved in making these films; employees of his probably shot them but were likely among the best in the industry, such as it was, at the time.

Four items down the list is footage of the 1903 Princeton-Yale game, also shot by Edison. A. C. Abadie is credited as being the cameraman. The footage of these old games featuring prominent teams gives one an idea what the state-of-the-art was in football uniforms and equipment at the time. The action is hard to make out at times but some things can be gleaned from replaying the clips.

Eventually, I looked at still photos. The first one I noticed, the one at the bottom of the page, is of an Alaskan Indian football team. It was also taken in 1903. Unfortunately, little in the way of detail is supplied. It would be interesting to know which team this is. Someone knowledgeable about reservations, agencies and schools around the turn of the last century might be able to shed a little light on this.

My person favorite, found on page 6 of the list, is of the 1903 University of Chicago-Haskell Institute game titled “players arguing.” From what I can tell, it looks like they’re doing a bit more than arguing. A higher resolution version might even reveal some players who later transferred to Carlisle.

Chicago & Haskell Players “arguing”

1903 Carlisle-Utah Game

April 16, 2011

Not too long ago, I was asked why Carlisle chose to play Utah on its post-season trip to California. After all, the teams had no history of playing each other and the University of Utah didn’t have the reputation of being a big-time football power. So, why did Pop Warner arrange to play its only game ever with Utah on December 19, 1903?

The first hint that Carlisle was planning post-season play that year was a piece in the November 13 edition of The Red Man and Helper ironically titled “Haskell’s Well Wishes” in which Haskell Superintendent H. B. Peairs was quoted as saying, “We hope now to see Northwestern [Carlisle’s last regular season opponent] beat Carlisle, as Carlisle has refused for three years to give us a game, saying that we were not in their class. If Northwestern beats them, they may come down a peg or two.”

Carlisle’s unattributed response probably came from Warner: “Haskell has never asked Carlisle for a game of football until after our schedule has been completed. We have never asserted that Haskell was not in Carlisle’s class. A comparison of the records of the two teams makes that unnecessary. We congratulate Haskell upon her good showing in the game against Chicago.” This response implies that, if Carlisle was considering post-season games, the schedule had been set already and Haskell had asked too late to get on the schedule. These words could be interpreted two different ways:

1) The comments were meant to be complimentary to Haskell as their win-loss records were comparable to Carlisle’s at that time.

2) It was a bit of a shot because, even though Haskell had a good record, its competition wasn’t at the same level as Carlisle’s. Also, Haskell had just lost to Chicago 17-11 where Carlisle had a winning record against contenders for being the Champions of the West.

Carlisle and Haskell would finally meet the next year, in 1904, but that is another story.

To be continued…

Professionalism of Athletics Not Allowed at Chicago

October 7, 2010

Further research is needed to determine if the Universities of Chicago, Wisconsin and Michigan actually stopped charging people to see their athletic contests. One thing that is sure is that Michigan and Wisconsin charge for theirs now and in a big way. What was formerly called Division IA football is big business today with correspondingly high ticket prices. And professionalism among college athletes was almost as big an issue then as it is now. The University of Chicago’s often-taken stance against professionalism was largely something for public consumption rather than an indication of the school’s conduct of its athletic program, so the pronouncement that they wished to stop charging for admission to football games and other contests should be taken with a measure of salt.

Perhaps they had a benefactor waiting in the wings to fund the endowment proposed to support the Maroon athletic department. If they did, it would have had to be a hefty one because the athletic department had gotten used to having money at its disposal to spend as it pleased. For example, as early as 1895, gate receipts were used to pay for a meal for the team at a French restaurant on Clark Street after each game. Gate receipts were also used to buy Thanksgiving dinner for the players and their dates after the annual game with Michigan.

Athletes received other benefits from the University as well, but it isn’t clear where the money came from to pay for them. Gate receipts are the usual suspects. Beginning in 1896, Chicago’s football players ate together at a special training table and live together in two flats in a private apartment building paid for, one concludes, from the proceeds of paid admissions to football games. That living arrangement was not renewed the following year because the landlord claimed the players had “played such havoc” that they were no longer welcome as tenants. So, the University moved them into Hitchcock Hall, the newest and most luxurious residence hall on campus. No, Amos Alonzo Stagg and the University of Chicago did not support professionalism of their athletes.

No More Admission Fees

October 5, 2010

The October 30, 1903 weekly edition of the Narka Kansas News included an article title, “The Plan a Good One.” The plan being referred to was on concocted by the faculty of the University of Chicago which would have eliminated paid admissions to contests in which the school’s athletes participated. The plan wasn’t as simple as it sounds at first glance because not all of Chicago’s games, meets, matches and tournaments were played at facilities controlled by the University. Many of them were played at facilities located on the campuses, mostly those of members of the same athletic conference as Chicago. So, meetings were set up with faculty representatives of the Universities of Wisconsin and Michigan to discuss dropping admission fees for athletic contests held at those schools.

Dropping admission fees is not something that can be done easily because athletic programs cost money to operate, even a century ago. Ticket sales help cover those costs and, in some places like Yale and Carlisle Indian School, generated a tidy profit. So, the trustees of the University of Chicago were going to create an endowment from which the earnings were to pay for the operation of the University’s athletic program and had taken preliminary steps to create an endowment for physical culture and athletics.

It is highly unlikely that this plan ever got off the ground because Michigan and Wisconsin were probably making so much money off their respective football programs that it couldn’t be replaced easily with earnings from an endowment unless the endowment was very large.

Also, this move was in sharp contrast with the announcement made by the Athletic Association of the University of Pennsylvania ten days earlier when it announced that approximately 6,000 tickets were to be sold at $2 each. Previously, 21,000 tickets were to be divided equally among the academies and Penn. This year, the tickets allocated to Penn were to be put up for sale. In earlier years, no admission was charged.

Carlisle’s Most Important Game

October 30, 2009

The following question was posed to me this week:

I have to do a college speech on an event in the 20th century. I decided to do it on a Carlisle Indian School football game and how that particular game brought attention to the school, the players, and the whole story behind it. If you had to pick ONE game that, in your opinion, put the Carlisle Indian School and their football team on the map what game would you pick.

This is a very difficult question to answer because there are several possibilities:

1. In just their third full season of football, the Indians played The Big Four (Princeton, Yale, Harvard and Penn) in successive weeks and were competitive in all four games. A bad call cost them the Yale game and they held Harvard to just four points. National Champions 10-0-1 Princeton beat all of their opponents except Lehigh, Army and Harvard worse than they beat the 5-5 Indians. The Tigers were held to a scoreless tie by Lafayette. Carlisle smashed Penn State 48-5 and beat the previously unbeaten Champions of the West Wisconsin 18-8.

2. In Pop Warner’s first year at Carlisle, the Indians notched their first win over a BIG FOUR team, Penn, 16-5. They also beat California 2-0 in a game played on Christmas Day in San Francisco. Halfback Isaac Seneca was named to Walter Camp’s All America First Team, the first Carlisle player to be so honored.

3. The 10-1 1907 Indians beat a BIG THREE team for the first time when they took Harvard 23-15. They also beat Penn 26-6, Minnesota and Chicago. Their only loss was to Princeton. Warner considered the set of players on this team to be Carlisle’s best and Jim Thorpe was on the bench! The win over Amos Alonzo Stagg gave him much personal satisfaction.

4. The 11-1 1911 team also beat both Harvard and Penn. Warner considered this team to be Carlisle’s best but it lost to Syracuse by one point due to overconfidence and listless play. Clark Shaugnessy ranked the 1911 Carlisle-Harvard game as one of the twelve best games of all time. Jim Thorpe described it as his most favorite game of his long career.

5. The importance of the 1912 Carlisle-Army was debunked in “Jude and the Prince,” an article written by James G. Sweeney and published in the May 2009 journal of the College Football Historical Society.

I’d appreciate reading your opinions regarding Carlisle’s most important game.