This book zeroes in on the developments between 1890 and 1915 that caused football’s meteoric rise in popularity.
“Intercollegiate football was still in its infancy, less than a quarter of a century removed from its humble beginnings – an 1869 match between Princeton and Rutgers. The early games were sparsely attended and had a collegial feel. A visiting team might roll into town on game day, stroll around with its hosts – perhaps play some billiards – and then head off to the field for the contest, the result of which was a veritable afterthought. When the game ended, the two teams dined together, sharing toasts and laughter.
“Within a decade, though, the games became a more serious matter. Princeton, Yale, Harvard, and Columbia formed a football association in the mid-1870s and began crowning an annual champion. The tenor changed. The emphasis on camaraderie was replaced by an emphasis on winning. Students rallied around the team as an expression of loyalty to their school. Its fortunes helped determine the university’s reputation.”