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Football is Dangerous, According to Lincoln Call

"It may be a little early to prophesy with confidence the decline of foot ball as it is now played," commented the Sunday Morning Call (Lincoln) on December 3, 1893, "but prophecy after the fact is without honor, not only in the country of the prophet, but everywhere else. The increasing brutality attending the game and the large number of deaths which have resulted from it have awakened much discussion of late and many strong papers and writers have taken a decided stand against it. The Call has always maintained that in the matter of brutality glove contests could not compare with foot ball. It is very seldom that a glove contest between even powerful fighters, results in as great physical injury to the participants as is sustained by several of the players in the average foot ball game; and there have probably not been as many deaths from prize fighting, either with or without gloves, in the last ten years as there have been from foot ball in the last season."

The Call then gave "a partial and incomplete list of the [football] fatalities of the year" from across the country and concluded:

"This is altogether too large a list of young men to offer up as an annual sacrifice to the game of foot ball. As a matter of fact, the development of the game has been such as constantly to increase the advantage of weight, brute strength and brutality, and to so nearly eliminate all other features of the game as to make them the exception and not the rule. That this is not necessarily the only way of playing foot ball is evident to anybody except a member of a college eleven, who would probably insist that anybody who criticizes the game does it because he is not capable of appreciating the refinement of talent and delicacy demanded by it. Walter Camp expresses the opinion that 'the result of the experience of this season will probably be legislation that will do away with mass playing in the future. It is rough in its tendencies and is not conducive to the best interests of the sport.'

"Foot ball as played at present is brutal and demoralizing. If it cannot be so modified as to eliminate its objectionable features the public should blight it by refusing to patronize it."


(November 2002)



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