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Football Spirit in Nebraska

The University of Nebraska football team was on a winning streak in 1902. Coach W. C. "Bummy" Booth's team went 9-0 that season and was unscored upon. The Lincoln Trade Review on October 25, 1902, said: "The college spirit has been in evidence in Lincoln the past week. With the football season in full blast, and with the great victory over Minnesota last Saturday [a 6-0 win for Nebraska], the thousands of students in Lincoln have been keyed to a high pitch and their vigorous enthusiasm has been boundless in expression.

"The college spirit is contagious, and it has invaded other walks of life. The professional and business public have felt it. Hundreds of men who have almost forgotten college days and the time when they were boys in their strenuous application to business, have had a reawakening to old times, and they have joined in and enjoyed the rampant enthusiasm. A man who is not touched by student enthusiasm, by the vigor and life to which they give expression, is pretty well over the line into the stage of sans everything.

"This college spirit and enthusiasm, which fills the streets with marching thousands, which rings bells, fires the old cannons, builds bonfires, incidentally runs street cars in the wrong direction, and occasionally drowns the voice of a barnstormer in the theatre when temporary possession is taken, is worth something to Lincoln. It stirs up the steady going and makes the plodding forget for awhile that they are growing old and getting a long way from the days when they had unlimited ambition and a ready stock of ginger.

"When these thousand students turn out and let loose their enthusiasm over a college victory it reaches to the remote corners of every business house and office, stirs up the dust and sets the accumulated cobwebs to swinging, and men move about with something of the old time swing and engage in their business affairs. The college spirit, backed by a football victory, is a great stimulant to a community; a man goes to his business some morning in the same plodding spirit he has been following for weeks and months; he runs into an edition of Mont Pelee [the site in Martinique of a spectacular volcanic eruption in 1902] college enthusiasm and he is touched up with an energy which remains with him a good many days.

"There is no danger of too much of this university enthusiasm, either for the students who create it or for the public upon which it reflects. There is no danger of too much life and exercise in a student body, and there is no danger of too much stirring up of people who too soon forget their old school days, or the life and vigor they had when they first entered business and bucked the line up of resistance which every successful business man has to meet. The college spirit is an asset of Lincoln, and Lincoln life which no figures in dollars and cents can properly measure."

(September 2008)



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