“Highly Recommended”

by John J. Miller on February 18, 2011

in Blog Posts

  • Sumo

Here’s a pre-pub review of my next book, in Library Journal:

Miller, John J. The Big Scrum: How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football. Harper: HarperCollins. Apr. 2011. c.272p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780061744501. $25.99. SPORTS

This focused study of Teddy Roosevelt’s effect on the growth of football could be called Mornings on the Gridiron, reminiscent as it is of David McCullough’s Mornings on Horseback about TR’s youth. Although TR was too small to play college football, he was a fan of the sport. Miller (national correspondent, National Review) draws from published sources to colorfully detail the future President’s interest in a vigorous sporting life, while also depicting the early development of football, particularly at the Ivy League schools, with a special spotlight on innovators. As football rules developed in the 19th century, though, the brutality of the game did not subside, and many prominent leaders called for the outlawing of the sport in the early years of the 20th century. TR, then President, intervened by bringing together leaders from several elite schools to form the governing organization that enacted radical rule changes to open up the game. The distance for a first down was increased from five to 10 yards, a neutral zone was established at the line of scrimmage, and, most important, the forward pass was legalized. VERDICT There is a timely connection here with today’s concerns over football violence. Highly recommended for general readers who love football and/or TR.—John Maxymuk, Rutgers Univ. Lib., Camden, NJ

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