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No Game for Boys to PlayThe History of Youth Football and the Origins of a Public Health Crisis$
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Kathleen Bachynski

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469653709

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469653709.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

We Are Not a Nation of Softies

We Are Not a Nation of Softies

Youth Football from the Great Depression to the Cold War

Chapter:
(p.28) Chapter Two We Are Not a Nation of Softies
Source:
No Game for Boys to Play
Author(s):

Kathleen Bachynski

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469653709.003.0003

Although the Great Depression limited funding for athletics, New Deal programs helped build infrastructure that contributed to making football a ubiquitous sport in high schools across the United States. With the end of World War II, high school football surged in the context of increasing prosperity, high school attendance, and suburbanization. Football’s expansion to increasingly include pre-pubescent children renewed critiques of the “big business” aspects of the sport. The participation of younger children also fostered a new range of concerns about physical injuries, as well as the emotional pressures of competitive collision sports for elementary and middle school children. Yet calls for limits on tackle football were ultimately obscured by the political and social culture of the Cold War. Football safety concerns were discounted as the anxieties of overly protective mothers. From the claims of coaches to the promotion of competitive sports by American presidents, tackle football was widely celebrated as a physically and morally beneficial sport for boys.

Keywords:   Children, Cold War, Football, Great Depression, New Deal, World War II, High school, Suburbanization, Physical injury, Emotional pressure

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