Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
This is an academic history of the establishment of big-time football within the university, covering the period from the 1820s to the 1930s. From the growth of physical culture through the 19th century, Ingrassia (history, visiting, Middle Tennessee State Univ.) traces the evolution of the concept of manliness from one of self-discipline to that of force and victory well exemplified on the gridiron. He observes that football evolved within the academic world at the same time that large American universities were making a push to stress research over teaching, and he writes that the popularity of the game was seen as a way to sell the ivory tower to the general population. However, many other academics saw the emphasis on lowbrow football as corrupting the mission of the university. That debate continues today, but Ingrassia maintains that the permanence of the game within academia, as circus or sideshow, was firmly established with the advance of professional coaches and the construction of concrete stadiums in the early 20th century. He also addresses the progressive era, militarism, sexism, racism, and the effects of the newer disciplines of psychology and social sciences in regard to this topic. VERDICT Although thoroughly researched, this book makes for very dry reading, which will limit its audience to specialists.-John Maxymuk, Rutgers Univ. Lib., Camden, NJ (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Ingrassia (history, Middle Tennessee State Univ.) offers a fresh perspective on the origins of big-time college football. Other scholars have produced works on the same subject, for example, Ronald Smith in Sports and Freedom: The Rise of Big-Time College Athletics (CH, Apr'89, 26-4533) and Robin Lester in Stagg's University: The Rise, Decline, and Fall of Big-Time Football at Chicago (CH, Feb'96, 33-3385). Ingrassia's book stands apart because of its focus on the role of faculty in the development of big-time college football. As he persuasively argues, faculty in the late-19th and early-20th centuries "institutionalized athletics" and played a key role in giving athletics a "permanent place on college campuses." He credits social scientists with providing a theoretical framework used to justify both the existence of intercollegiate football programs and efforts to reform them. Ingrassia links the construction of football stadiums and the proliferation of formal academic departments devoted to athletics to the academic justifications for football programs. His study ends in the post-WW I era, a time when faculty attitudes toward athletics soured, yet faculty largely lacked the power to eliminate big-time programs from their campuses. Ingrassia's intriguing, insightful book makes an important contribution to the literature on intercollegiate athletics. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; professionals; general readers. C. M. Smith Cabrini College