Reading Football: How the Popular Press Created an American Spectacle (Cultural Studies of the United States)

Oriard, Michael

Published by The University of North Carolina Press, 1993
ISBN 10: 0807820830 / ISBN 13: 9780807820834
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Synopsis: Is football an athletic contest or a social event? Is it a game of skill, a test of manhood, or merely an organized brawl? Michael Oriard, a former professional player, asks these and other intriguing questions in Reading Football, the first contemporary book about football's formative years.

American football began in the 1870s as a game to be played, not watched. Within a brief ten years, it had become a great public spectacle with an immense following, a phenomenon caused primarily by the voluminous commentary about the game conducted in popular newspapers and magazines.

Oriard shows how this constant narrative in football's early years developed many different stories about what the game meant: football as pastime, as the sport of gentlemen, as a science, as a game of rules and their infringements. He shows how football became a series of cultural stories about power, luck, strategy, and deception. These different interpretations have been magnified by football's current omnipresence on television. According to Oriard, televised football now plays a cultural role of enormous importance for men, yet within the field of cultural studies the influence of football has been ignored until now.

From the book:
"A receiver sprints down the sideline, fast and graceful, then breaks toward the middle of the field where a safety waits for him. From forty yards upfield the quarterback releases the ball; it spirals in an elegant arc toward the goalposts as the receiver now for the first time looks back to pick up its flight. The pass is a little high; the receiver leaps, stretches, grasps the ball--barely, fingers clutching--at the very moment that the safety drives a helmet into his unprotected ribs. The force of the collision flings the receiver backward, slamming him to the turf. . . . This familiar tableau, this exemplary moment in a football game, epitomizes the appeal of the sport: the dramatic confrontation of artistry with violence, both equally necessary."

Book Description: "[An] admirable book. . . . Oriard's thesis is refreshingly original."-- Nation

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Reading Football: How the Popular Press ...
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication Date: 1993
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Fine

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Oriard, Michael
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Book Description The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC, 1993. Hardcover. First edition. First printing [stated]. xxv, 319 p. Illustrations. Notes. Bibliography. Index. This is one of the Cultural Studies of the United States series. Foreword by Alan Trachtenberg. Is football an athletic contest or a social event? Is it a game of skill, a test of manhood, or merely an organized brawl? Michael Oriard asks these and other intriguing questions in Reading Football, the first contemporary book-length study of football's formative years. American football began in 1870s as a game to be played, not watched. Within a brief ten years, it had become a great public spectacle with an immense following. Not coincidentally, Oriard argues, football's formative years were also the golden age of print, an era when newspapers and periodicals reached a larger and more varied audience than ever before. These publications carried vast amounts of commentary about football conducted by journalists, coaches, ministers, college presidents and faculty, and various others. The daily newspaper in particular, Oriard argues, virtually created football as a popular spectacle. Oriard shows how this constant narrative developed many different stories about what the game meant: football as pastime, as the sport of gentlemen, as a science, as a game of rules and their infringements, as Darwinian struggle. He shows how football, in its early years, became a series of cultural stories about power, luck, strategy, and deception. These narratives, or interpretations, Oriard contends, often contradicted one another: they were read differently by different groups and individuals, and the various interpretations of the game changed through time. One question played out in the early years of football was this: Is football a game of brutality or a game that calls on the "manly" virtues of self-discipline, patience, bravery, and teamwork? Walter Camp, the Yale coach who is known as thefather of American football, wanted it to be seen as a game of discipline, obedience, pluck, and tactical genius-a mirror of corporate America. But the public cared more for "individual brillian. Good in very good dust jacket. Highlighting/underlining. Pencil erasure residue on pages xiv, xv, 23, 26 and 43. There may be light pencil underlining remaining. Seller Inventory # 60912

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