American football at the 1932 Summer Olympics

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American football (demonstration)
at the Games of the X Olympiad
American football pictogram.svg
Venue Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Dates August 8, 1932

American football was a demonstration sport at the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. On the evening of August 8, 1932, seniors from three Western universities (Cal, Stanford, and USC) were matched against those from the East Coast's "Big Three" (Harvard, Yale, and Princeton).[1] In front of 60,000 spectators at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the West team won by a score of 7-6. All-American Gaius "Gus" Shaver from USC was the captain of the West team and the game's leading rusher with 145 yards on 16 attempts.[2][3] The football game at the 1932 Summer Olympics, combined with a similar demonstration game at 1933 World's Fair, led to the College All-Star Game which was an important factor in the growth of professional football in the United States.[3]

Origins[edit]

The game was originally proposed by organizers as an "intersectional" match-up between the defending national champions, University of Southern California, on the West Coast and East Coast stalwarts, Yale University.[3] USC coach/former Yale coach Howard Jones delivered a confidential proposal from the President of the Organizing Committee for the 1932 Summer Olympics, William M. Garland, to the President of Yale University, James Rowland Angell, inviting Yale to play in the game.[3] On the heels of the 1929 Carnegie Report which decried various aspects of professionalism within college football, Angell reluctantly turned down the invitation.[3][4] Although unable to secure a USC/Yale match-up and determined that football be a demonstration sport, the organizers "settled" on a game consisting of all-stars who would have graduated by the Olympic games.[3]

Game summary[edit]

1932 Summer Olympics demonstration game – West 7, East 6
1 2 3 4 Total
West 0 0 0 7 7
East 0 0 0 6 6

at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

  • Date: August 8, 1932
  • Game attendance: 41,643
  • Reference:[3]

The game was scoreless until early in the fourth quarter. When a field goal attempt by the East fell short[nb 1], Shaver and another player from the West muffed the ball in an attempt to pick it up.[1][3] According to various reports, Burton Strange from the East either carried the loose ball across the goal line[1] or simply fell on it in the end zone[3] to give his team a 6 - 0 lead. Eddie Mays' extra point kick was blocked.[3] With three minutes left in the game, Shaver scored over the right tackle to tie the game at 6 - 6, and Ed Kirwan's conversion put the West in the lead for good.[1][3]

Participants[edit]

As that year's Olympic Stadium, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum hosted an all-star match-up of college football players at the 1932 Summer Olympics.

Like the other Olympic athletes, players for both teams lived in the Olympic Village.[1] The starters for the West team consisted of six USC players, three from Stanford, and two from California.[3] The starting line-up for the East team was four players from Harvard and seven from Yale.[3] A number of College Football Hall of Famers elected not to play in the game. All-American Albie Booth of Yale as well as Erny Pinckert and All-American Johnny Baker of USC decided not to play when offered paying jobs in Hollywood.[3] Barry Wood of Harvard, another All-American, was also selected to play in the demonstration, however, he reportedly declined in order to concentrate on his studies.[5]

Aftermath[edit]

After the game, the Los Angeles Times wrote:

It remained for a spectacle listed on the program as 'American Football' to provide the Tenth Olympiad with its greatest thrill to date. Chances are the game will become an international pastime before the memory of this night game dies away.[3]

However, this prediction has yet to be fully fulfilled. The sport did in fact accelerate in popularity after World War II, especially in countries with large numbers of U.S. military personnel, who often formed a substantial proportion of the players and spectators. And by 1998, the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), was formed to coordinate international amateur competition. At present, 45 associations from the Americas, Europe, Asia and Oceania are organized within the IFAF, which claims to represent 23 million amateur athletes.[6]

However, American football has yet to be accepted by the International Olympic Committee as an official Olympic sport.[7] Among the various problems the IFAF has to solve in order to be accepted by the IOC are building a competitive women's division, expanding the sport into Africa, and overcoming the current worldwide competitive imbalance that is in favor of American teams.[8]

Rosters[edit]

West[edit]

West players and staff

Starters

  • J. Ralph Stone, LE
  • Robert H. Hall, LT
  • Peter Heiser, LG
  • Stanley Williamson, C
  • Ray Hulen, RG
  • Charles S. Ehrhorn, RT
  • Garret Arbelbide, RE
  • George Watkins, Q
  • Thomas O. Mallory, LH
  • Eugene C. Clark, RH
  • Gaius Shaver, F
 

Reserves

  • Robert B. Bartlett
  • Raymond E. Dawson
  • Louis F. DiResta
  • Raymond East
  • Edwin Harry Griffiths
  • Harold E. Hammack
  • Milton N. Hand
  • Edward J. Kirwan
  • William Marks
  • Frank W. Medanich
  • Philip Neill
  • Kenneth M. Reynolds
  • Rudolph Rintala
  • Philip Wilson
 

Chairman of Coaching Committee

Advisory Coaches

Medical Supervisor

  • Dr. Walter R. Fieseler

Manager of Football Demonstration and West Team

  • J. Phil Ellsworth

East[edit]

East players and staff

Starters

  • Thomas P. Hawley, LE
  • Pierre Bouscaren, LT
  • Jr. Henry Meyerson, LG
  • Benjamin C. Betner, Jr., C
  • Edward Rotan, RG
  • Arthur S. Hall, RT
  • Herster Barres, RE
  • Bernard D. White, Q
  • Edmund A. Mays, LH
  • Albert Thomas Taylor, RH
  • John F. Schereschewsky, F
 

Reserves

  • John W. Crickard
  • Hans Ivar Flygare
  • Walter H. Gahagan Jr.
  • Francis H. Kales
  • Lea Langdon, Jr.
  • John C. Madden
  • John Muhlfeld
  • Harold Carl Sandburg
  • Albert Burton Strange
  • Kay Todd, Jr.
  • Casper Wister
  • William H. Yeckley
  • Frederick Robert Zundel
 

Chairman of Coaching Committee

Advisory Coaches

Line Coach

  • Adam Walsh (Yale)

Trainer

  • George Connors (Yale)

Manager

  • Harold F. Woodcock (Yale)

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Ray Schmidt's recap states that the missed field goal was attempted by Ed Rotan,[3] however, the official Olympic report states that it was attempted by Eddie Mays.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f The Games of the Xth Olympiad Los Angeles 1932 (PDF). Xth Olympiade Committee of the Games of Los Angeles, U.S.A. 1932. 1933. pp. 739–743. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  2. ^ Mark L. Ford (2004). "OLYMPIC GOLD, NFL LEAD". THE COFFIN CORNER: Vol. 26, No. 2. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Ray Schmidt (May 2004). "THE OLYMPICS GAME". College Football Historical Society Newsletter. 
  4. ^ Chandler, Joan Mary (1988). Television and national sport: the United States and Britain. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. p. 53. ISBN 978-0-252-01516-8. Retrieved September 16, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Why Should ESPN College GameDay Consider Harvard-Yale?". IvyLeagueSports.com. October 20, 2007. Retrieved September 14, 2009. [dead link]
  6. ^ International Federation of American Football, 2004, "IFAF" Access date: October 12, 2007.
  7. ^ Mike Florio (2010-02-24). "Football not truly global until it’s in Olympics". MSNBC.com. Archived from the original on 27 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  8. ^ Vacchiano, Ralph (2010-03-02). "Olympic organizers huddle over football's future at Games". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2010-03-13.