Sunday, January 4, 2015

Civil War Sunday - Football and War

The past week or so, in the United States, we've experienced the end of the college football season.

One of the bowl games that end the college season, the Rose Bowl, even has its own parade, the Tournament of Roses Parade, which features beautiful floats decorated entirely in organic materials, plus marching bands, horse riding teams, and more. 

Have you ever thought of the link between college football and the United States Civil War?  I was intrigued to read about it in a New York Times blog post.

I remember, from years ago, a college all-star game played on Christmas Day called the Blue-Gray Football Classic. (For much of the war, the Union armies wore blue uniforms.  The Confederates wore various colors, but their uniforms are most associated today with the color grey.)  Not surprisingly, the Grey players attended college in former Confederates states, while the Blue players came from states that stayed in the Union during the Civil War.

Another blog talks about the Civil War origins of various college mascot names.

I was surprised by something I learned about the University of Pennsylvania football team.  When that team scores, the band plays a song that begins "Hang Jeff Davis [the President of the Confederate States of America] on a sour apple tree".  The lyrics are even on the band website.  The melody of the fight song was used for at least two Civil War era songs, John Brown's Body and The Battle Hymm of the Republic.

Many sources say football dates from around 1869, when the Civil War (which ended in 1865) was fresh in the minds of all Americans.  But then I found this, dating from 1861, the year the Civil War began.  What is not disputed is that many college team sports grew in popularity after the war, and a lot of war imagery was incorporated.  Football still means war today, according to the late American comedian George Carlin.

This is day four of the three blogging challenges I am involved in.  I normally have a Civil War related post on Sundays.  

12 comments:

  1. Hi!
    As I explained in previous comments, I teach World History. I love history but don't know anything about sports. Interesting that you made the connections. #ultrablog

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    1. I didn't make the initial connection. I read about it in a NY Times blog post. Reading about the University of Pennsylvania scoring song amazed me, though. I love history, too.

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  2. I've thought of this and I'm so glad I'm not the only one!

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    1. The George Carlin football as war vs. baseball monologue is one of my favorites, from years ago.

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  3. This was quite interesting. I'm not from the US and don't follow much American Football, but it's quite interesting to see the roots or sport seated in your country's history. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. It's funny, I'm watching football now with hubby - and had no idea about its origins!

    Oh, and three different blog challenges, huh? Good for you - how's it going?

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    1. The challenges overlap - so it isn't as much work as you might think. I am doing it because it is fun - and I get to read blogs both new and familiar to me.

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  5. Hi,
    I found this to be very interesting! I had never made the connection but will now be thinking of it as I see grey football uniforms. Also, the University of Pennsylvania's fight song is intriguing and I will be reading the lyrics to it. How neat.
    Thank you so much for sharing!
    Rebekah

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    1. It's fascinating to me to find out the origins and history of some things so familiar to us. Glad you enjoyed.

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  6. This is fascinating. I seem to vaguely remember the Blue-Gray game as well...and it has been a long time since I have given a thought to the "Tournament of Roses" parade, but I remember enjoying it on TV when I was a kid. There were so fewer Bowl Games that the Rose Bowl was a big, big deal.

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  7. Alana,
    Wow! I loved this trivia ??? Maybe it's not trivia to football players but now I have a topic to discuss with my football friends. Well-written, and thanks!
    Amy

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