Category Archives: research

The Perils of Writing and Citing Blogs

There was a great Forbes piece circulating the interwebz yesterday, calling for us to read and cite more academic blogs. I agree whole heartedly with this sentiment, and not just because I run the Sport in American History blog. There is a lot of fantastic work being done online. I generally point to 2014 as the “blogging moment” when academic group blogs proliferated and became a tad more formalized, but three years later they are still producing amazing, intellectually rigorous work and broadening academic conversations to larger audience (Tim Lacy noted this the other day on Facebook). I make this argument in my forthcoming article in the Journal of Sport History on the “Power of Blogging.”

Yet, the ephemerality of digital content makes it really difficult to cite blogs. One in five articles suffers from “link rot” according to an article in the journal, PLOS ONE (thanks to Paul Bracke for sending it my way on Twitter). I ran into this today while doing the last round of copyedits for my article. Three of the links had changed since I submitted my revisions in November. One of the blogs no longer exists. You can read this as either a commentary on the time it takes to publish something in a traditional print journal or the impermanence of digital publishing. Either way, it is something important to keep in mind (I should note the Forbes article does get into this a little bit). If we want our digital work to matter, to be cited, and make an influence, we have to be smart and strategic about access and preservation. We also need to think about the long-term life of our work and where we think it can have the biggest impact today as well as in the future.

Luckily for me I was able to update the links and find the deleted blog in the Wayback Machine to provide a stable archived URL. Yet, as Brandon Ward wondered on Twitter, what are the ethics of citing something that has been deleted? That’s a debate for another day, but also one worth having!

John Carlos and My Charmed Academic Life

I’ve lived something of a charmed academic life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate and lucky in the opportunities I’ve had. My advisors at every level have been top-notch and selfless. Incredibly encouraging and passionate about their student’s success. The institutions have been equally giving, even if no one has heard of my undergraduate institution or I get funny looks when I say my master’s degree is from Nevada.

Tonight I was reminded of this charmed life when I met 1968 Olympic 200m bronze medalist, John Carlos. The Black Cultural Center here at Purdue sponsored the talk. Carlos chose to speak here, instead of attend the track and field hall of fame induction ceremony. His Grandson is a current Purdue student (and a fraternity brother of one of my students this semester). You could tell that this familial connection was important to Carlos. So was talking to a young crowd. He shared a lot of personal, family stories. He spoke little of his athletic career or Olympic moment, and instead encouraged us to stand up for what is right, to not be fooled by the distractions of mass media, and reminded us that we can’t go back in time to change our choices. This last point stems from his experience in 1968.

A major theme of his talk was sacrifice in the face of criticism. Any movement, any major achievement, requires sacrifice. And that sacrifice is not momentary. It’s often lifelong. Sometimes it is a stigma, sometimes it’s mistreatment, other times it’s delayed gratification. Carlos experienced bits and pieces of all of theses. Yet, he’s extremely proud of his actions and statements. He knew he was right — and firmly believes that what’s right never changes. His actions were misunderstood — and continue to be — and opposed by many then, though now they’re largely celebrated. People thought he was advocating Black Power, but according to Carlos, “the only black power was my black ass running down that track.”

Narratives, however, painted him as radical and anti-American. This confusion has often overshadowed the Olympic Project for Human Rights and his own commitment to the larger civil rights movement. He laughs when people trying to re-write that history, but kindly explains what he was and continues to be about, encouraging them to join his cause.

Encouraging people to join his cause — the cause for civil and human rights — is important, increasingly so, he argues. This is our life, our history, and our time to deal with what’s right and wrong, he said. We can’t keep waiting for “more time” because it will never come. We’ve got to wake up and look beyond the media narratives that discounted him for so long, and continue to ignore or move past serious social ills, and act. Indeed, he is particularly worried and concerned about the future given the rise of police violence and continued systemic inequality.

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John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s iconic salute on the 200m medal stand at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics

The talk was humorous, heartfelt, and inspiring. It was clear that it came from his soul. Carlos wants young people to continue the fight, think critically about the world they live in, and work to make a difference. One line from early in his talk to this effect particularly struck me. We have such a “fear of offending our oppressors” he said, but we must not let it limit our right to express ourselves and stand up for what is right. In the end, that is his message to all of us and the way he has tried to live his life.

Hearing those words from Carlos meant so much to me. I’ve long looked up to him and Tommie Smith. I had the iconic poster of the two of them on the medal stand at the 1968 Olympics on the wall of my dorm room my freshman year. I was a track athlete and loved their bravery, but back then I don’t think I ever fully understood what it really meant. That image, however, was one of my first introductions into the connections of history and sport.

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John Carlos and I at Purdue University, October 2015.

Now, here I am tonight, sharing the story that I heard firsthand from a man I looked up for most of my adolescent life. I even had my photo taken with him on stage after the event. I live a charmed life.

What’s insane about all of this is, this isn’t the first time I have met one of my heroes. In the summer of 2010 I met 1964 Olympic 10,000m Gold Medalist Billy Mills for the first time. Mills was the main subject of my master’s thesis. That summer, I was in Lawrence doing research on him at KU and Haskell that summer, when I serendipitously learned he was in town and giving a free public talk. I already had a mutual friend with Mills — a fellow Baker University track alum, Mark Misch — who promised to introduce us, but providence intervened.

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Billy Mills and I at the Haskell Cultural Center, June 2010.

Meeting him meant the world to me. I grew up in Kansas, running cross country and track. The state cross country meet for class 5A and 6A schools is annually held at the University of Kansas’ Rim Rock Farm. The course is decorated with silhouettes of Kansas’ most famous runners and many of its features — such as hills, curves, and bridges — are named for them. The final hill of the course bares his name. It’s called the Billy Mills Ascent. It was hell. A near 400m hill that separated you from the sprint. Your legs burned and ached as you pushed yourself to the summit, where you could see the finish line 400m away. The hill tested your resolve and endurance, and only the best prepared dared to attempt a final kick after it. In high school we trained all year with that hill in mind. Every Wednesday my team did hill repeats until our cool down was nothing more than a walk/job. That hill was on our minds. We knew it by name. We knew what it meant — perseverance, toughness, and survival. What today, in the traditional of Gerald Vizenor, you might call survivance. It was an ode to both Billy Mills’ championship and his struggle.

Mills and I met again 6 months later, this time at his house in Sacramento. He generously invited me to spent a cold January day with him and his wife, Patricia. I came away with over 6-hours of recording as we chatted about his life, pre-and-post ’64. It was a remarkably engaging and intimate conversation. He was so open and giving, willing to move beyond his usual rote and rehearsed talk. Without the generosity, my master’s thesis — and probably my academic career — would not have been possible.

My thesis was the first major study of Billy Mills. I connected his life to Jim Thorpe and evolving federal Indian policy to describe and interpret the conditions that framed his life and connect his impact to that larger history.  When I finished my thesis that summer, I shipped him a bound copy. Both he and Pat read it. They loved it and asked about getting more copies, prompting discussions about the future of the project.

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Billy Mills, Purdue Native American Students, and I at Purdue University, October 2014.

Since then we’ve stayed in touch, mostly through Facebook, and become friends. They visited Purdue last fall and requested that I be invited to have lunch with them.  They wanted to catch up, and continue our conversation from years ago. It was another charmed connection. Another surreal moment with one of my heroes.

In addition to meeting these sporting heroes, I’ve also had the chance to meet a variety of inspiring academics. Last year I had tea with Michale Oriard — the eminent scholar of football. We sat and talked for nearly two hours about his books (which are required reading for any football scholar), my research, our thoughts on higher education, and more. Oriard played football at Notre Dame and later for the Kansas City Chiefs — my hometown NFL team. So, of course, Kansas City and barbecue was yet another topic. A similar moment occurred last week, when I was invited to have lunch with Bruce Schulman, a leading political historian from Boston University. Bruce was friendly and encouraging. He enjoyed hearing about my dissertation and, though it was a brief conversation, offered some constructive thoughts on the topic.

Perhaps I’m making too much of these moments. Maybe I need to let go of my inner fanboy. But whenever I think of them — and my insane ESPN appearance in August — I can’t but help wonder if I am living a dream. Meeting my heroes, hearing them share their stories, becoming friends with them, and then sharing those stories in my own classroom and publications is more than I ever imagined. I knew at an early age I wanted to study history. I stumbled into the history of sports in undergrad, but never knew any of this was possible.

These stories mean so much to me, not only because they’re dreams come true, but also because this journey has and continues to be incredibly hard. Writing is tough work. Teaching is at times exhausting. Together, they sometimes seem impossible. I have a lot of moments of self-doubt. There are days where it is damn hard to keep going. It is during these times, when I’m struggling to push through the distractions, that I reflect on all of these personal moments. They remind me that I can keep going. That I’ve been successful. That I’ve been put in this place for a reason.  One of the freakiest reminders is the progression of area codes from institution to institution. I completed my BA and MLA in 785, my MA in 775, and am doing my doctoral work in 765. It’s silly, I know. It’s probably meaningless, but it sure feels like I sign. It helps me know that I am where I supposed to be and doing what I’m supposed to be doing. It hints that maybe this plan isn’t all mine. After all, I’m living a charmed life. I have already been given a lifetime of unreal opportunities. With a little more hard work, who knows what else will come my way.

Race & Protest: The Cultural Significance of Football at Oklahoma

This week I’ve been Tweeting and sharing stories and links about the events at the University of Oklahoma. The video showing racist behavior by Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity members is disturbing. I’ve tried to add some context by sharing my research into the history of Oklahoma and the university. During these discussions, I’ve payed particularly close attention to OU Football Coach Bob Stoops. He’s done a tremendous job of coming out against the actions and taking a firm stand against racism. President Boren has also done an admirable job providing quick, decisive leadership. The fraternity has already been shut down. Two of its member have also been expelled for their behavior.

Today news came out that Coach Bob Stoops, Athletic Director Joe Castiglione, and the University of Oklahoma football did not practice yesterday (which was supposed to be their first spring practice). Instead, they met at the football complex, prayed together, and then marched through campus arm-in-arm demonstrating against racism. The Oklahoma Football Twitter account Tweeted pictures using #notonOUrcampus and #Sooners Stand United.

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Also on Monday, top-recruit Jean Delance announced he would not attend OU and decommitted. These actions illustrate the importance of football as a symbol of the university. I’ve focused predominately on the actions of the football team at OU because it’s my area of research. My dissertation explores the OU football dynasty during the 1950s, and how it came to represent the state and create pride for its citizens. Football became a symbol of not just the university, but also the state. Bud Wilkinson, the football coach during that era, became one of the most important people in the state (this later led him to run for political office). The central role of football in the state is significant, and thus the leadership of its coach is crucial for gaining the attention of Sooners. After all, as my study shows, football played a key role in shaping the state’s culture. I believe Stoops and the OU football team continue to do so today.

Race and football has a long history together. The University of Oklahoma was the second to last football program to integrate its team in the old Big 8 (Missouri was the last). Though they were 14 years ahead of their biggest rival, the University of Texas, who integrated in 1970, it was a slow process. OU faced two Supreme Court cases during the late-1940s that would eventually force integration of the university. It took nearly four years from the first lawsuit until African-Americans were finally admitted. Once admitted, the University dragged its feet. Using railings and ropes, it tried to keep black students separate in classrooms. University President George Cross received hundreds of letters. Many of them from local residents deploring the idea, while out-of-state writers shamed Oklahoma for treating African-American students like animals, caging them off with ropes and railings. Soon, there were similar concerns about the integration of the student union and the football stadium. Could black students attend games? Would the intensity of sports cause problems? Administrators debated the pros and cons. Though George McLaurin and Ada Lois Sipuel sought educational equality, not athletic integration, they clearly got the ball rolling.

Indeed, in 1950 coach Bud Wilkinson announced that he would welcome any black player who was willing to try out for the team. A few tried out, but no one made the team until 1956. Prentice Gautt, a fullback from Oklahoma City became the first black player on the University of Oklahoma football team. He was a standout athlete at all-black Douglas High School. During his high school career, Gautt played in the first-ever integrated game in the state of Oklahoma. He was also the first African-American to play in the state all-star game, though he was a late addition and it required special permission.

Gautt’s success at OU was due, in part, to the support he received from the African-American community in Oklahoma City. According to Sooner Magazine, “A group of black doctors and pharmacists in Oklahoma City had funded a four-year scholarship for a scholar-athlete who could make the grade at OU.” This would save Wilkinson, and presumably other OU coaches, from having to use an athletic scholarship on a black player, which undoubtedly would have created a quite a controversy among fans and boosters. Because of Gautt’s athletic prowess, he easily could have chosen to attend another school who had offered him a real scholarship (a year later Gautt was given an athletic scholarship), but OU’s football clout meant more to him. They were the best team not just in Oklahoma, but the entire country. Playing at OU allowed him to fulfill one of his childhood dreams.

The Sooners were in the middle of a 47-consecutive game winning streak when Gautt joined the team. The 1956 team was named national champions for the second year in a row, but because of eligibility rules Gautt was relegated to the freshman team. Oddly, I’ve found relatively little coverage of Gautt and the integration of football at OU in the mainstream white press. Because of the earlier Supreme Court cases, the papers seemed to believe that Oklahoma was progressive and had moved beyond race. This, of course, was not true. The newspapers do reveal some of the difficulties Gautt faced. A few of his fellow freshman refused to play along side an African-American. Because of this, one of these teammates decided to leave OU. Most, however, supported him. When the freshman team was denied integrated dining following a game in Tulsa, they chose to walk out in solidarity.

According to Sooner Magazine, Gautt was sure to go out of his way to appease Southern customs, such as avoiding being seen with a female classmates. “When class was over, she would go back to the Quad, and I’d go the same way to practice,” he told the magazine. “I can remember slowly putting up my brushes one at a time, washing them and washing them and thinking `Holy cow, we have to do all of this…” Indeed, he struggled to have much of a social life in Norman and instead often drove to back home to Oklahoma City.

He earned a spot on the varsity team his sophomore year (just as the winning-streak ended). On the varsity team he continued to face racism. In Texas, state laws prohibited housing Gautt with the team in their Worth Hotel in Fort Worth before the big OU-Texas game at the Cotton Bowl, so other arrangements had to be made. Like earlier, the team showed solidarity and changed venues with him. Despite these set backs, Gautt stuck with it. During his junior year, he finally came into his own on the field. He was named MVP of the 1959 Orange Bowl. Success helped Gautt become more accepted on campus and in Oklahoma.

Following his playing day at OU, Gautt was drafted by the Cleveland Browns. He stayed in Cleveland for a year before being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. After seven years with the Cardinals, Gautt retired and became an assistant for Dan Devine at Missouri in 1968. While coaching, he earned a Ph.D. in counseling psychology focusing on minority athletes. Eventually he joined the Big 8 (and later Big 12) as an assistant commissioner.

Gautt’s experience at Oklahoma shaped his later career and how he viewed race and athletics. In a TV interview during Bud Wilkinson’s 1964 U.S. Senate campaign, Gautt outlined some of his experience at OU and his views on Civil Rights and racial issues in sport.

Well you know this problem of integration, the Civil Rights bill, the Public Accommodations bill, they are, to me, when I hear people talk about it, it’s a big farce. Because it is easy for a person to get up and say I’m for civil rights, I’m for equal opportunity and I’m for this and I’m for that. But I believe until you make the first move in acting, or acting out what you’re saying, it’s no good.

Gautt believed in action, and he thought words were meaningless unless the were backed up. Bud Wilkinson backed up his word and Gautt supported him for Senate because “I have experienced it [Wilkinson’s actions].” During the interview, Gautt explained one example where Wilkinson stood up for Gautt and cut through racist views on the football team.

In 1959, uh we had a problem. We had, I was up for all-American, we had several fellas on the team that resented this. They didn’t think that I should have been up. They began to talk about me behind my back. We played Northwestern, we lost a very crucial game, our first game of the season. We came back we beat a team just barely, then we went to Texas, we played, we lost the game. We came back for practice that Tuesday. Tuesday we had a lousy practice. And he called us up in a huddle, and he said everybody in. We were really amazed because practice wasn’t over. He came into the dressing room we were in there milling around, talking with each other, and everybody sat down as he came in, and he said I want to talk to you for a moment. He said the fellow you’ve been talking about, he didn’t do, he didn’t ask for this all-American publicity. He didn’t ask for anything, the sportswriters selected him. He had the publicity from the paper. And I think it’s unjust that you talk about him behind his back. And until all of you decide that you want to play ball, you want to play together, that you’re men enough, and then stand up and tell him the things that you’ve said about him behind his back, I don’t want to have anything to do with you. And he walked out and slammed the door. Well, immediately fellas began to stand up and apologize to me for what they’d said. We band together, got together and we played wonderful football, at least up until the Nebraska game, which we lost. I think that was one of the first time Oklahoma had lost to the Big 8, one of the Big 8 foes, in pretty good a while.

(The quotes above are from this video interview).

Wilkinson was able to provide this leadership because, according to Gautt, he was “a secure person who felt pretty good about who and what he was.” He had the respect and the authority because of his success and his position within the state to say “You can he a part of my program. Regardless of what other people think or feel or do, I want you to be a part of my program.” This, in turn, put Gautt at ease and allowed him to trust his coach.

The response at OU follows this tradition. President Boren’s strong words have been followed by swift action and expulsions. Coach Stoops, like Wilkinson, has displayed remarkable leadership as well. Monday’s protest demonstrates to Oklahoma football players, and fans of the program, that its leader will not tolerate racism.

Gautt’s words, his example, and his determination still loom larger for the Sooners. The Prentice Gautt Academic Center connected to Memorial Stadium supports Oklahoma athletes academically. Likewise, until his death in 2005, Gautt frequently returned to OU to offer his wisdom. In 1987 he told Sooner Magazine, “Regardless of how far we’ve come, we still have a long way to go in terms of people relating to people. We’re not talking about just black to white and white to black: we’re talking about people relating, families, husbands and wives, kids and other kids. Underlying that is a message of love–what it really means to care for somebody.” As Oklahoma moves forward, I hope these words from one of the school’s most important racial pioneers guide it. It’s heartening to see Stoops and the football team lead the way. Like Wilkinson and Gautt breaking barriers in the 1950s, the cultural importance of football remains important and will go a long way in starting the healing process.

My 2014 in Pictures

OU Football and the “new Oklahoma”

Since I returned home from Oklahoma I’ve been working on organizing my research and sketching out how to organize my dissertation. I have a lot of little stories and anecdotes, but I’m not sure where to place them within the larger story. I’m still unsure how to construct and layout that story.

In a lot of ways the story is tailor-made. The University of Oklahoma won 47-consecutive games from 1953-1957. They also won 31-straight from 1949-1950. These two streaks serve as the driving narratives. Football and unprecedented success are the story. Yet, in other ways, they’re not the story at all. The immediate questions of “why football” and “what impact did the team and winning have on the university and state” are integral to doing good history. Those questions help separate my project from the other books written about the streak. After my research trip and doing quite a bit of reading I have answers to those questions and others.

The struggle is about organization and arrangement. What’s most logical, what supports my argument best, etc. I want to develop and foreshadow events with context and connections but I don’t want to detour too much from the “main” football story. Maybe this shouldn’t be a concern, because I feel like a lot of my little arguments and assertions take place along these side roads while football itself only loosely connects some of them.  Football is the big image people notice, but the detours are what show the real, new Oklahoma in the postwar era.

The story that I think is at the heart of my dissertation is that of football as a symbol of the new Oklahoma building its image, industry, racial equality, etc. in the postwar Sunbelt. Football and winning are what people notice. It’s what makes Oklahoma and OU so unique and interesting, but along the way, parallel to the streaks, are some really compelling stories about racial integration (both of OU and the team as well as events in Oklahoma City), boosterism (Oklahoma City striving to become the “Detroit of the aviation industry”), the university’s vast expansion (with assistance from the Navy), loyalty oaths, and the state’s political influence.

Image is perhaps the overarching story, of which football is the biggest attention grabber. John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath sets it all in motion. Oklahoma desperately wants to counter the “Okie” image and rebrand the state. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! helps. So too does a variety of ad campaigns and whistle stop tours by the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce (and others). Football success, however, has the largest impact. This is undoubtedly why Oklahoma is one of the major instigators in questioning the NCAAs broadcasting policies during the 1950s. It also affects similar debates as they consider different conference memberships (with the president informing some alumni that while the Southwest Conference has less stringent recruiting rules, OU’s academic reputation would suffer).

Image really is at the fore in both narratives, it’s at the heart of what I mean when I say  the “new Oklahoma” (or “Bud Wilkinson’s Oklahoma” in my working dissertation title). The “new Oklahoma” is complex. It relies on football, the politics of pork, boosterism, mass media, and more, to reshape not just the state’s image but also its racial and economic landscape. There are hints of change in the political climate as well (though they’re not completely achieved until later). I want my dissertation to be about the construction of this “new Oklahoma” while keeping football as the central narrative trunk of which everything else branches off.  It’s hard to strike that balance but I’m excited about where I’m going and I think I’ll be able to get there.

Billy Mills and the 1959 Big 8 Cross Country Championships

Yesterday when I doing dissertation research at the University of Oklahoma Archives, I came across this document. As you can see below, it’s a copy of the official Big Eight Conference Cross Country Meet results from 1959. At first glance the document was meaningless to me. It’s completely unrelated to my current project on the University of Oklahoma football. At second glance, however, I noticed Billy Mills’ name. Because I wrote my master’s thesis on Billy Mills, I took a quick photo and though it would be fun to share it with him on Facebook (I’m friends with his wife and they share an account). Upon seeing the photo, the shared a couple of short tidbits about the race.

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First, as the document explains, the meet was held in Lawrence, KS on a gusty November day. The University of Kansas won the team title and Billy Mills was their lead runner taking second-place. He finished the 3 mile course, which was in “perfect” condition, in a time of 14:11.0. Miles Eisenman of Oklahoma State won the race in a new meet record of 13:55.2. According to the splits at the bottom of the page, he took the lead around the first mile and never looked back.

Yesterday Mills relayed his experience in the race to me on Facebook. His recollections expand upon the information and add some drama to the meet. The race was pretty rough for him. He, along with 2 or 3 other guys, fell around the 2 mile mark. The fall likely cost him sometime, but he got up and tried his best to chase down Eisenman. Mills finish was important in helping KU secure the team-title. Though this story is relatively briefly and somewhat insignificant, it adds an important personal perspective to official document. By reading the meet results alone, you would never know about the fall and the close physical battle among the runners.

Mills was ecstatic to see the sheet tonight. It clearly took him back. It’s always fun to remember old time and old friends, even those who’ve passed on. According to Mills, Miles Eisenman passed away this year. Seeing this tonight was likely a nice tribute and reminder of that race and his close rivalry. Mills was a junior in 1959. As a senior, he won the 1960 Big 8 Cross Country meet.

ANB Entry, Sports Blog Launch, and Diss. Ramblings

The entry I wrote for American National Biography on US Olympian Harold “Hal” Connolly went live today. You can read it here:http://anb.org/articles/19/19-01012.html It’s free to view for the first 6 months, after that a subscription is required. Although it is basically just a 1,000 word biography, it was a really fun piece to research and write. I didn’t know that much about Connolly before hand. He’s a fascinating figure. His life was so significant beyond just his athletic career. He was born with a deformed arm, he married a Czech athlete during the heart of the Cold War, he one of the first people to admit to using steroids and had a strong stance against punitive testing that he outlined in the NY Times. Later in his life he went to work promoting the hammer throw to young athletes and served as the top administrator for the special olympics. He embodies not just the Cold War era, but so much more. I hope to write more about him someday.

Next week I am launching my new group blogging project: Sport in American History! The site is still under construction as I wait for people to send me their bios, but I’ve got around 10-15 interested contributors, and a dozen or so more interested readers. The first piece will just be an introduction to the blog and outline of what’s to come. After that we’ll be taking turns posting weekly pieces that address current events, review books/films, share new research, and discuss teaching with sport. I’m hoping that it will be a great success but worry that motivating and reminding people to sign up and post regularly could prove to be difficult. The May launch is maybe a bit risky because everyone is busy with finals, but I wanted to have something up there and visible for us to advertise at the North American Society for Sport History meeting in late May. One of our contributors is really active with NASSH and has promised to spread the word. Look out for a new Twitter account for the blog too. 

Beyond these two projects, my own research is going well. I’m proud of my working dissertation title: “From Dust to Dynasty: Bud Wilkinson’s Oklahoma” though I think it makes it sound more like a biography than an exploration of race, politics, and football during Cold War era Sunbelt Oklahoma. Lately, I’ve been compiling preliminary lists of boxes and files that I want to look at when I get to the archives this summer. One of the grants I’m applying for requires it, but it’s going to be useful for other areas of my research too. I’ve had some really good conversations lately about my project and the different historiographies that I’ll be touching. There will definitely be a lot of political history, some race, and, of course, football. I hope to write a longer post on the project and its development in May. For now, the quick hitting themes are:

  • Rehabilitation of Oklahoma’s image (rejection of “Okie” image)
  • The expansion of the University of Oklahoma
  • The integration of OU & OU Football
  • Oklahoman’s as Cold Warriors
  • Postwar Recovery based on the Aviation Industry and Pork Barrel legislation
  • Football, Politics, and the Sunbelt/South

I could easily write a paragraph or two on each of these bullet points explaining them and my preliminary findings as well as connecting them. I’m really excited about the project and all of the different converging ideas and angels to explore. Things seem to be going well, but there’s always more to read, more to discover!