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How the Progressives Almost Killed Football

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A century ago, Teddy Roosevelt rescued football from a movement of Progressive intellectuals and activists who sought to banish the sport from the land.

In his new book The Big Scrum, writer John J. Miller uncovers an extraordinary bit of American history. In the early 20th century, Progressive reformers aimed to ban the game that would one day become the nation’s most popular sport—football. The Progressives disliked the sport’s violence. But the sport had an important fan in President Theodore Roosevelt. In an episode inexplicably ignored by most of his biographers, Roosevelt intervened to help save the sport from the Progressive crusaders. Miller recently sat with American.com to discuss this fascinating chapter of American political, academic, and athletic history.

Nick Schulz is the editor of THE AMERICAN.

FURTHER READING: Schulz and Steve Hayward discuss “'Reagan’s Final Triumph Over His Enemies,’” and Schulz and Representative Fred Upton consider “Revolution in the Rust Belt.” Schulz has written “Why Putting the ‘T’ In T-Mobile Is Good for Consumers,” “Keeping the Government's Foot Off the Natural Gas,” and “It's Time to End the Rigged System.”

Image by Rob Green/Bergman Group.

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