Injuries, Brutality and Death
in American Football from
Bloody Monday to the Flying Wedge
– Media Reports from 1827 to 1898 –
The First Crusade Against Football is a fully-indexed 600-page time capsule of articles and images from 1827 to 1898 during the first major crisis in American football based on the dangers and brutality of the sport.
Football has been a violent and sometimes brutal sport since it began in the 19th century. As the game grew and expanded across the country, more and more young men were injured, crippled, and killed. In response to the public outcry against the sport and college authorities who sought to ban it, the founders of football sought to defend and reform the sport.
Today football is again under attack due to a string of serious injuries and damaging medical reports. Headlines decry a drop in football ratings while predicting the possible demise of the sport. But none of this is new.
This authoritative look at football in the 1800s shows the controversy over injuries was roaring even back in the 19th century when players had little if any protective equipment. Modern day rules designed for safety had yet to be created. The sport was for the toughest of young men who had grown up breaking horses and sleeping in uninsulated attics.
But the crush of serious injuries, accidental death, concerned citizen groups, and critical newspaper reports resulted in the much safer modern game we have today.
The First Crusade Against Football serves as a road map for parents, coaches, and football personnel who are struggling to address current injury concerns. The 600-page book features 210 articles, 85 illustrations, and 25 historic photographs. It details many examples of the concussion problem in the 1800s and how the game adapted to become safer, and then grew to become the central sport in America.
The massive Index contains over 750 entries including breakdowns by injury type (bruise, concussion, cripple, disable, dislocate, fracture, sprain) and body part (ankle, arm, brain, collarbone, ear, elbow, eye, face, head, jaw, knee, leg, ligament, limb, mouth, neck, nose, rib, shoulder, skull, spine, tendon, tooth).
An example from the book is the following excerpt from an 1892 article written by Walter Camp about a head injury during a game in 1884:
At a point in the play of the first half, Terry in some way received a severe blow on the head, but such was the force of the bringing up he had enjoyed that he scrambled back into his place after giving up the ball to the centre rush, and only those perfectly familiar with his usual method of play would have noticed, or did notice anything peculiar about his movements. He managed to get through the half, and at intermission a hasty consultation was held in the dressing room by the captain and coaches. Terry was kept away from the rest of the players, for he was manifestly “out of his head.”
Richards said that during the latter part of the half Terry couldn’t get his signals, but that being told what each was when it was given he seemed to carry out the play all right from sheer force of habit. Here was a dilemma indeed. No other half-back was available, and Richards, as well as others, believed that Terry, even in his condition, would mechanically carry out his plays if some one kept telling him when and what his signal was. Finally it was decided to start in with him on the second half and chance it.
He not only played, but played well, desperately well at times, although he actually knew nothing of his actions, and was placed in a physician’s care immediately after the game. It was some 12 hours before he recovered ordinary power of thought, and then he knew nothing whatever of the game or its results after he was hurt. Up to that point he could tell the progress of the game accurately—beyond that his mind was a blank until the following morning.
I have heard of one or two similar instances, but this is the only one that has chanced to come under my own observation.
Published by The Lost Century of Sports Collection
Library of Congress Control Number: 2016954774
Dimension: 7″ x 10″ – 616 pages
Copyright © 2017