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

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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