Our friend, Matt Chaney, continues to document the long history of football (and concussions) with this detailed piece on how the coverup on injuries has been going on since the 1800’s! Some serious reading for the holidays!
‘Safe’ Football Failed in 1880s, Talking Points Lived On
December 21, 2016
Copyright ©2016 for historical arrangement
American football ‘experts’ developed timeless promises for preventing injuries 130 years ago but failed, repeatedly, to solve anything
Brutality of American football was under control and diminishing, game leaders declared by the late 1880s. Problems of injury and “slugging” were basically resolved, winnowed down to isolated incidents through a decade of reform efforts, they said.
Football advocates agreed. “The game is as safe as any outdoor game can well be… in the larger colleges,” wrote Alexander Johnston, Princeton professor and football booster. Johnston’s how-to football article for Century Illustrated Magazine in 1887 was complemented with artist renderings of Foul Tackle and Fair Tackle for instructive contrast. “With good physical condition in the players, the requisite training, and suitable grounds, the game is not only one of the best of outdoor sports, but one of the safest,” Prof. Johnston assured readers.
College football leadership amounted to a few young men, some playing yet. They said problems were resolved after multiple “reform” efforts. Rule-makers for the Intercollegiate Football Association now exercised “almost sole control over the general conduct of the players upon the field,” promised Walter Camp, the IFA committee leader, referee, Yale co-coach and football writer. “We shall see a much more quiet [scrimmage] line and a much steadier style of playing, characterized by clever running but sharper tackling. Captains will train their men to keep their tempers.” Continue reading