History Buzz December 6, 2011: Randy Roberts: American Historian Tackles Football, Patriotism and Current Events


History Buzz



Randy Roberts: American Historian Tackles Football, Patriotism and Current Events

Source: Purdue University, 12-6-11


Sixty years ago football provided the nation an escape from a world war, but today, football, and other popular American sports, are often the source of conflict.

“Sports, especially American football, has become a world in itself,” says Randy Roberts, distinguished professor of history at Purdue University and author of the new book “A Team for America: The Army-Navy Game That Rallied a Nation.” “At one time sports were mainly talked about in the sports section of a newspaper. Today it’s frequently on the front page as well as business and crime sections, and it defines the universities and the cities the teams represent. To understand the status of these games today, it’s important to look at history such as college football during World War II.”

In “A Team for America,” which was published Tuesday (Nov. 29) by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Roberts looks at the 1944 undefeated Army football team and its rival Navy, and the relationship between a violent game and a deadly war that had many personal ties between the players and the troops. He spent nearly a decade interviewing surviving players and coaches.

“Football was truly the last chance for these boys to be boys before they were called on to be men,” Roberts says. “The war was never far from their thoughts. They studied how to lead troops during classes and attended camps to train for war. Football was truly a different game before World War II, and it’s continued to change since then.”…READ MORE

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