Benching Jim Crow: The Rise and Fall of the Color Line in Southern College Sports, 1890-1980 (Sport and Society)

Martin, Charles

Published by University of Illinois Press
ISBN 10: 0252035518 / ISBN 13: 9780252035517
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Chronicling the uneven rise and slow decline of segregation in American college athletics, Charles H. Martin shows how southern colleges imposed their policies of racial exclusion on surprisingly compliant northern teams and explains the social forces that eventually forced these southern schools to accept integrated competition. Martin emphasizes not just the racism prevalent in football and basketball in the South, but the effects of this discrimination for colleges and universities all over the country. Southern teams such as the University of Alabama, University of Mississippi, and the University of North Carolina were obsessed with national recognition, but their Jim Crow policies prevented them for many years from playing against racially mixed teams from other parts of the country. Devoting special attention to the Southeastern Conference, the Atlantic Coast Conference, and teams in Texas, Martin explores the changing social attitudes and culture of competition that turned the tide and allowed for the recruitment of black players and hiring of black coaches. He takes a close look at the case of Texas Western College (now the University of Texas at El Paso), the first major white university in an ex-Confederate state to recruit African American athletes extensively. Martin skillfully weaves existing arguments and documentation on the integration of college sports with wide-ranging, original research, including previously unpublished papers and correspondence of college administrators and athletic directors uncovered in university archives.

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Since the late nineteenth century, college athletics have mattered enormously to southern white males, whether they were students, alumni, or sports fans who never set foot inside a college classroom. Football especially came to inspire passions and state pride. Colleges and universities in the South sought to prove that they were the equal of teams anywhere in the country, but equality was strictly limited. While Southern football and basketball teams aspired to national fame, the South was enforcing ever stricter segregation. Black players, no matter how talented, could not play. When teams from other parts of the country allowed blacks to play, Southern teams refused to play them or required them to bench their black players for their games, or when confronted by campus resistance after World War II, refused to play them at home.

Examining the history of college football and basketball during the Jim Crow era, this volume shows how racial discrimination was enforced in the South and how teams in the North were long compliant with it. Martin reveals how dozens of northern universities themselves excluded black players from their own teams well into the 1940s. He then traces the long, slow change that led to integrated competition, the recruitment of black players, and the hiring of black coaches. Changes came from several sides and did not come easily. One incentive for change turned out to be athletic competition: when teams from smaller schools with black players began to defeat all-white teams from the South With special attention to the Southeastern Conference, the Atlantic Coast Conference, and teams in Texas, Martin shows the gradual disappearance of Jim Crow segregation in the colleges of the South. More than a study of how segregation affected college football and basketball, it shows how college sports helped bring down Jim Crow.

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Title: Benching Jim Crow: The Rise and Fall of the ...
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Good

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Published by University of Illinois Press (2010)
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Published by University of Illinois Press (2010)
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