“Football of Today” 119 Years Ago, Nov. 7, 1892

November 7, 1892, MondayThe Herald: Syracuse, New York

FOOTBALL OF TODAY

Development of the Game Into a Strategic Battle

BRAINS BACKED BY MUSCLE

Mind of More Account Than Matter, but Both Play Their Part in Modern Football

If the weather is at all pleasant next Wednesday it is quite probable that a large majority of the 5,000 people who have been sent invitations will go down to Star park to witness the game of foot ball between the Syracuse Athletic Association and the Syracuse University teams.

Although foot ball as it is played to-day is after a careful comparison with other out door sports conceded to be the brainiest and manliest of them all comparatively few people have been able to master the mysteries of the game for the simple reason that if one is unfamiliar with the rules and reasons of play and the scientific variations which a crafty captain will signal to his team under varying conditions, it all looks like a shoving match between eleven men with an occasional run or kick to relieve the monotony.

But when once the spectator is able to put himself mentally in the place of the captain and reason why this or that play is feasible, whether one man or another should at such a time choose to hurl himself through the opposing eleven or try to run around them, the game becomes as interesting as a strategic battle between two armies. It becomes not an individual “scrapping” match between eleven men to advance the ball to one goal or the other, but a battle of brains between two captains, backed by the brawn and instant obedience of the team as a whole.

There was a day when individual playing was much thought of. Now-a-days team work is what wins, unless the disparity in weight is so great as to utterly demolish an opposing line.

The game of to-day as it is played in Syracuse is by no means the game that was played last year or the year before. Fastidious folk who were shocked by accounts of fistic encounters that went by the name of foot ball games will see nothing of the sort in the games that are played at Star park this season.

So far there has not been a single “slugging” match and games are conducted in scientific and gentlemanly fashion.

To be sure, the game is rough, but then it must be remembered that the players are all in the finest muscular trim by long and severe training and by the most exemplary habits of living, and that they are protected from injury by heavily padded jackets and pants, and by nose and shin guards and rubber bands.

From “The Lost Century of American Football

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Sports on Sunday a Sin in 1874 — Oops, We Changed Our Mind!

October 23, 1874, Friday – The Bulletin, Cairo, Illinois

The weather permitting there will be another game of base ball played in the Fifth ward on next Sunday; and also a game of foot ball. The whole to be concluded by a rousing fight. These kind of amusements are becoming very fashionable; and yet our good Christian people do nothing to prevent them. They ought to pray for a change. This is not, we are sure, asking too much of them. We do not wish to trouble them, but really this matter ought to be attended to, and it seems to us they are the people to attend to it.

October 24, 1874, Saturday – The Bulletin, Cairo, Illinois

It seems that we have been misunderstood. Several sinners have called upon us and remarked that base ball is not a sin and that foot ball is a virtue; that therefore it is not a sin to play these games on Sunday. This we admit. In our belief Sunday is a day of recreation, and if recreation can be had at base ball or foot ball or any other kind of ball, we have no objections to urge. We do however maintain that pugilistic encounters should not be put down upon the list of recreations.

Several Christians also called upon us to say that they had prayed for the reformation of base ball men, but to little effect. They seem to be of the opinion that neither prayer nor salt will save these men; that they are all on the highway to the bad place, and like the journey. Our Christian friends, however, do not intend to weary of well doing and will go on praying.

From ebook: “The First Decade of College Football: 300 Published Reports of American Football from 1869 to 1879

Football 159 Years Ago Today

October 18, 1852, Monday – The New-York Times

YALE FOOT BALL GAME

In almost every University in America there is some contest to decide the strength and agility of the Freshman and Sophomore classes. In Yale, it is the Foot-ball Game.

On Wednesday, 13th inst., at 4 o’clock, P.M., the rival classes met for the purpose of contesting five games. Each class numbers 114 youths; and this year, their apparent strength was so nearly equal, that it was generally conceded that if the Sophomores conquered, as is usually the result, it would be through artifice.

The Freshmen gave the first kick, and then a general rush was made for the ball, around which they formed a dense crowd for 15 minutes, each class striving to their utmost ability without gaining a single rod. At this crisis the ball was kicked from the crowd, over the side bounds, where any one who could get it has the right to one kick. A Sophomore obtained this right, but, not being expert himself, he communicated the ball to the leader of his class, a powerful fellow, who ran several rods with it, when he was overtaken by a more athletic Freshman, but succeeded in throwing the ball nearly over the goal. One or two more kicks, and the umpires decided that the Sophomores had won the first game.

After contesting the second game for nearly an hour, the umpires finally decided that one of the Freshmen, having caught the ball, was entitled to a kick at it. This the Sophomores were unwilling to allow, but claimed a victory, and challenged the Freshmen to commence the third game. The Freshmen determined to abide by the decision of the umpires, and refused to commence the third game until their second was fairly (as they claimed) ended.

It is but justice to the Sophomores to say that one of the umpires decided the second game in their favor. Darkness here ended the fierce conflict.

The Freshmen have since challenged their rivals to play the remaining four games. But the Sophomores are determined not to play again unless the Freshmen will commence at the third. Here the matter will probably rest, as neither party is disposed to compromise.

Hundreds of spectators witnessed this trial of strength, in which the combatants manifested as much interest and invincible courage as was ever exercised upon the plains of Mexico by the American soldiers; and it is also worthy of note that in this contest also, one brave hero fainted, and was borne bleeding from the field.

From: “The Lost Century of American Football