Archive for December, 2010|Monthly archive page

The rise of the women’s movement and the decline of the single-bar face mask 1967-1981

In Uncategorized on December 31, 2010 at 6:32 am


A mainstay on NFL football uniforms from the early 1960s through the late 1970s the single bar face mask was worn with less frequency by the mid 1970s and had become obsolete by 1987. Our data set indicates that the three underlying vectors for this change were as follows:

1.) The empowerment of woman in the American workplace.

2.) An increase in the female viewership of prime time television owing to the popularity of shows with women in leading roles e.g. The Flying Nun, That Girl, The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

3.) The debut of ABC’s prime time Monday Night Football in September of 1970.

The convergence of all three vectors in the American cultural landscape resulted in a concomittant shift in female behavior with more American women than ever viewing prime time professional football telecasts, beginning in the early 1970s. We analyzed Nielsen ratings of American Professional Football ( NFL) telecasts from our data bracket 1967-1981 and clearly established a pattern where the number of single bar face masks worn in the league declined ( from 48 in 1967 to 3 in 1980) as female viewership for professional football telecasts increased ( women were 5% of the viewing audience in 1970 but 27 % by 1981). Much of this was owing to the increasing popularity of Monday Night Football which by the late 1970s had become one of the most popular programs in prime-time American telvision. We theorize that as more women tuned into watch professional football, the league aimed to reduce levels of violence hoping to make the game more appealing to this new and growing market segment. Our data seriously contradicts our initial hypothesis that the single-bar face mask was was phased out by the league as it sought a sleeker image for itself in post-Nixonian America ( Wilcove and Collingworth 1986).

Sherman L. Peabody PHD
Winston Collingworth PHD
Reddenbacher Institute for Sports and Gender, University of Tulane


The Old Met

In Uncategorized on December 29, 2010 at 6:07 pm

The Metrodome has been in the news lately. The roof collapsed after a heavy snowfall in the Minneapolis-St Paul area earlier this month forcing the Vikings to move their remaining two home games to another venue. And I read today that hundreds of high school and college baseball games, as well as the Twins winter workouts, will have to be moved or subject to cancellation because the damage will not be repaired until March.

I have always regarded the Metrodome with particular disdain, one reason being that it displaced a venerable stadium in Metropolitan Stadium. Metropolitan Stadium was home to the Twins and Vikings for many years and the scene of some memorable Games including the 1965 All star game and World Series, as well countless Vikings playoff games. It was one of those picturesque stadiums of the 1960s, with grass and fences, as opposed to astro-turf and walls, a look which came to dominate stadiums in the mid-1970s and 1980s. For this reason, Metropolitan Stadium was always one of my favorite venues for the NBC Saturday Game Of The Week.

The great Vikings teams of the 60s and 70s were synonymous with Metropolitan stadium. When I think back to those teams I see the barren playing field, the snow piled up on the sidelines and Alan Page’s vaporized breath as he stands in the huddle.

I never understood why Metropolitan Stadium ceased to be good enough for the Twins and why the Vikings suddenly could no longer play in cold weather. By 1980 the stadium was in need of repairs but renovations -along the lines of the the old Yankee Stadium remodeling from 1973-1976 – could have been undertaken. Instead Metropolitan Stadium fell victim to the civic craze for domed sports and entertainment facilities.

I have often considered re-locating to Minneapolis. I am not sure Tokyo is right for me and California, my home state, is in crisis. In Minnesota I am sure I would find solid midwestern, American values, good schools and affordable home prices. The cold winters do not bother me. Were Metropolitan Stadium still in use I would be there in a heartbeat.

As long as the Metrodome stands, however, the move is on hold.

Bob Feller and Time

In Uncategorized on December 29, 2010 at 4:43 am

I have been meaning to get around to my Bob Feller memorial post. Unfortunately holiday travel and parenting responsibilities have taken up much of my time recently and I just have not had the time to think about what I wanted to say about Bob Feller. Of course, I never saw Feller pitch. I grew up in the 1970s long after Feller had retired. But every kid who played baseball back then regarded Bob Feller as one of the immortals of the game, along with other players from the same era like DiMaggio, Williams, Musial, Greenberg, et al. Among the Feller lore were the opening day no-hitter against the Yanks in 1940 and the speed demonstration with the US Army artillery machine. Every ten year old kid in 1970 knew these legends.

When I think about Bob Feller more than anything I think about time. To a generation that grew up with Astroturf and the DH, the era in which Bob Feller played was as distant as the Civil War. We were familiar with the great players from 30s and 40s but, as ten-year olds who possessed only a fuzzy sense of historical time we simply could not look back thirty years and comprehend how close Bob Feller’s era was to our own.

If I look back thirty years now to, say, 1980, I recall names likes George Brett, Jack Clark, Steve Carlton, Goose Gossage, Reggie Jackson et al. Far from seeming like another era it feels like only yesterday that I saw these players in action. They are still part of my active memory. To a ten-year old today, however, Steve Carlton is probably as antediluvian as Bob Feller was once for me.

Time is funny. It is one thing to a kid and another thing to an adult.

Another reason I do not watch the NFL anymore: Michael Vick

In Uncategorized on December 27, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Another reason I do not watch the NFL anymore is Michael Vick. Vick should have been banned for life for his involvement in the dog-fighting ring which grabbed national headlines a few years ago. The NFL does, after all, ban players for life for gambling or repeated drug use. Why it would not ban a player who sadistically electrocuted dogs in his swimming pool is beyond me. Not only has Vick been allowed to play again, but he is being celebrated this year for his comeback with Philadelphia and is even being touted as an MVP candidate. And I see this morning that President Obama called Eagles Owner Jeffrey Lurie to thank him for giving Vick a second chance. As the Eagles get closer to the Super Bowl this crescendo of hypocrisy will only get worse.

NFL rosters these days are full of players like Vick. Plaxico Burress, Ben Rothlesburger, Ray Lewis, Terrell Owens are a few that come to mind. Every broadcast has a sub-plot: someone who has been shot, or has been involved in a serious fracas with the law or is under suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

In the glory days of professional football there was drug use, to be sure, but players were for the most part law-abiding citizens who just happened to play football. I think the most controversial player when I was growing up was Joe Namath. However, the controversy surrounding Namath had nothing to do with drugs, or guns or gang violence, what many NFL players nowadays seem to be involved in. Namath was controversial because he was a mainstay of the New York swinger scene who wore panty hose on game days. Though not used with Joe Namath’s name the phrase “role model in the community” was often heard during NFL and other professional sports broadcasts. Sadly, that phrase is no longer in use and when I use it here it seems antiquated.

It is enough to make you want to turn off the TV, which I often do these days when the NFL is on.

Why I no longer watch the NFL

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 7:17 pm

It is about that time of year that I begin to look at the NFL standings. I used to love Pro Football. I grew up in the Bay Area in the 1970s when the Raiders were the most feared and intriguing team in the NFL (and a team I loved to root against) while across the Bay John Brodie and the 49ers showed promise but always fell short – usually in heartbreaking fashion e.g. 1972 playoff game against Dallas.

The 49ers kept me interested in Pro Football until the early 1990s. Then a class franchise suffered an identity crisis, trading Joe Montana, hiring a series of coaches whose integrity was dubious and signing players who were committed more to promoting their own brand than to winning. At some point I just lost interest in the 49ers and stopped watching pro football altogether. Nowadays, I usually tune in only at the end of the year to watch the playoffs and Super Bowl. Once a sports fan, always a sports fan.

One of the main reasons I have lost interest in pro football is that broadcasts have become so laden with time outs that the game just seems to drag on and on. Take the first series of plays after a kickoff for example. Back in the day the offenses and defenses would take the field when play on the kickoff was whistled dead and play would resume without a commercial break. Now, however, there are several commercials between the kickoff the next series of plays. I timed this once – from the extra point on a TD until the next series after the kickoff – and seven minutes elapsed. In other words, a fan has to sit front of their idiot box for seven minutes ( usually watching a heavy dose of ED commercials ) just to see one play, the kickoff. For me at least, this just makes the entire telecast unwatchable.

I always wonder whether TV was really such a good thing.

Ron Santo 1940-2010

In Uncategorized on December 5, 2010 at 4:13 am

I saw in the headlines yesterday that Ron Santo has passed away. The cause was complications from diabetes. In fact, Santo had battled diabetes for much of his life and several years ago both of his legs had to be amputated. Still, this did not stop Santo from pursuing a career in broadcasting and he endeared himself to Cubs fans as much in the broadcasting booth as he had on the field.

When I was a kid, I always looked forward to the Cubs visit to San Francisco because I would have the opportunity to see the powerful Cubs lineup including perennial all-stars Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Ron Santo ( why the Cubs never won with this lineup, which included Don Kessigner, Glenn Beckert, Randy Hundly, Jim Hickman et al. is anyone’s guess). Santo was the power hitting National League third baseman, par excellence and always batted third in my wiffle ball lineup ( fortunately there was no fantasy baseball in those days, just wiffle ball). He played his entire career in Chicago, albeit his last year was with the White Sox and not the Cubs. Baseball fans of my vintage will always associate number 10 with Ron Santo.

Although putting up solid career numbers including 342 home runs and a lifetime .277 average ( much better numbers than Hall of Famer Joe Morgan can boast), Santo has always been passed over for induction into the Hall. Given the courage which he displayed, playing his entire career with diabetes and involving himself in numerous diabetes-related charities both during and after his playing days, Santo really deserves a place in Cooperstown. To think that one day the Hall will include players who disgraced the game with steroid use ( I am thinking here about Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens) , while truly noble individuals like Ron Santo are excluded seems unfair. But then again, election to the Hall of Fame does not carry the same cachet as it used to so maybe we just shouldn’t care.

Anyway, Ron, thanks for the wonderful memories. You will be missed.