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Bixby on Football

Nebraska journalist A. L. Bixby (1856-1934), who authored the Daily Drift column for the Nebraska State Journal for more than forty years, enjoyed football as a spectator sport. His reply to a newspaper reader's letter critical of the new sport as uncivilized and dangerous appeared in the Journal of October 13, 1901 (on microfilm at the Nebraska State Historical Society):

"It is true that once in a while a person is badly injured and even death results from the game, but when you take into account the army of boys who yearly engage in the game, the percentage of accidents and fatalities is trivial which shows that a mix-up on the gridiron is usually all right so long as the boys can be persuaded not to swat one another with clubs or swear when an opponent steps on their feet.

"When you come to think of it all occupations and all recreations are hazardous. Only last summer we read of a hack full of little folks on their way to a Sunday school picnic who were run into by a passenger engine with deadly results. Steamboats blow up, and ships go down in the night, and horses run away and pumpkin-show grandstands collapse and little children break their legs playing pom pom pull-away, and things seem bound to happen whether or no . . . . "

"Football is not a cruel sport because it is most thoroughly enjoyed by those who do the active work; and if they enjoy it surely the rest of us ought not to complain."

(September 1997)



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