The Rise of Intercollegiate Football and Its Portrayal in American Popular Literature

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The Rise of Intercollegiate Football and Its Portrayal in American Popular Literature

With the success of the Merriwell literature, juvenile sport fiction became abundant. In all subsequent stories, the model for traditional juvenile sport fiction, even continuing today, is the illustrious Frank Merriwell (Oriard, 1982). As the Merriwell series dwindled to a halt in the 1910’s, books began to dominate the world of children’s sport fiction. Oriard (1982) suggested the popularity of these books rose because “the juvenile sports novel combined the action of the dime novels with the middle-class morality of the Alger (rags-to-riches) novel” (p. 47). In 1912, the year Gilbert Patten retired as the author of the Merriwell stories, Owen
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By the end of the novel, Stover resolves all the conflicts with the university and its social structure, and returns for his senior year “as a genuine leader and champion of democratic value” (p. 40). In the context of a fictitious football novel, Stover at Yale, reveals the same inconsistencies between the portrayal of college football compared to the realities of the sport at the time.

By the time that, Stover at Yale, was published, football had purged itself of all mass formation plays and the restrictions on the forward pass were removed, but only after several deaths on the gridiron. President Roosevelt met with the presidents of the Big Three - Yale, Harvard, and Princeton - at the start of the 1905 during which he discussed the importance of playing the game “within the spirit of the rules” (Lewis, 1969, p. 720). However, the public concern over football soared as a rash of casualties left twenty-three young men dead as a result of injuries acquired on the gridiron (Watterson, 1988). After NYU Chancellor MacCracken witnessed the death of a Union College player during a game against NYU, the impetus was provided to call another meeting for football leaders, but this one was not limited to the presidents and coaches from Yale, Princeton, and Harvard. Out of this meeting rose the Intercollegiate

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