Ancient History

Another feature of iGoBears is Ancient History where The Roman digs through the archives of Cal Bears yore and presents priceless snapshots of the way things were. This week, the coda of the Foreword of “66 Years on the California Gridiron, 1882-1948, The History of Football at the University of California” by S. Dan Brodie. This book was only recently supplanted by Ron Fimrite’s excellent “Golden Bears” which I can heartily recommend as Mr. Fimrite was an esteemed friend and colleague of my journalist in-laws. In any case, Mr. Brodie opens his book with something that feels like a cross between a convocation and a roast.

“Several exchanges strongly advocate the idea of an intercollegiate athletic contest. Let us have one by all means. Let a few men in each college neglect their proper work, become skillful acrobats and tumblers, and then at the expense of the mass of students who have improved themselves by applauding the feats of these few in the gymnasium, go to a considerable distance to be beaten. But let us not stop here. Let us go on in the noble work. Let us have a permanent Intercollegiate Circus Troupe; let us have an Intercollegiate Association of Tight Rope Walkers; let us have an Intercollegiate Combination of Tumblers and Trapezists. Then shall American educational institutions have completed their great work; then shall American colleges have reached the highest pitch of their glory.”

I’ll tell you when and where that was written next week – you can have a good argument over it at your tailgate party – until one of you googles it. These mobile phones kind of ruin things like this…

OK, it was in an editorial in the April 2nd, 1879 edition of the Berkeleyan, the predecessor of the Daily Cal, 10 years after the first college football game was played but 3 years before California’s first game, and 13 years before the first Big Game with Stanford.

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