How You Played the Game: Life of Grantland Rice

Overview

Centering around the life and times of the revered American sportswriter Grantland Rice (1880-1954), How You Played the Game takes us back to those magical days of sporting tales and mythic heroes. Through Rice's eyes we behold such sports as bicycle racing, boxing, golf, baseball, football, and tennis as they were played before 1950. We witness ups and downs in the careers of such legendary figures as Christy Mathewson, Jack Dempsey, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Jim Thorpe, Red Grange, Bobby Jones, Bill Tilden, Notre ...

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Overview

Centering around the life and times of the revered American sportswriter Grantland Rice (1880-1954), How You Played the Game takes us back to those magical days of sporting tales and mythic heroes. Through Rice's eyes we behold such sports as bicycle racing, boxing, golf, baseball, football, and tennis as they were played before 1950. We witness ups and downs in the careers of such legendary figures as Christy Mathewson, Jack Dempsey, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Jim Thorpe, Red Grange, Bobby Jones, Bill Tilden, Notre Dame's Four Horsemen, Gene Tunney, and Babe Didrikson--all of whom Rice helped become household names.

Grantland Rice was a remarkably gifted and honorable sportswriter. From his early days in Nashville and Atlanta, to his famed years in New York, Rice was acknowledged by all for his uncanny grasp of the ins and outs of a dozen sports, as well as his personal friendship with hundreds of sportsmen and sportswomen. As a pioneer in American sportswriting, Rice helped establish and dignify the profession, sitting shoulder to shoulder in press boxes around the nation with the likes of Ring Lardner, Damon Runyon, Heywood Broun, and Red Smith.

Besides being a first-rate reporter, Rice was also a columnist, poet, magazine and book writer, film producer, family man, war veteran, fund-raiser, and skillful golfer. His personal accomplishments over a half century as an advocate for sports and good sportsmanship are astounding by any standard. What truly set Rice apart from so many of his peers, however, was the idea behind his sports reporting and writing. He believed that good sportsmanship was capable of lifting individuals, societies, and even nations to remarkable heights of moral and social action.

More than just a biography of Grantland Rice, How You Played the Game is about the rise of American sports and the early days of those who created the art and craft of sportswriting. Exploring the life of a man who perfectly blended journalism and sporting culture, this book is sure to appeal to all, sports lovers or not.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A faithful and lively account of the variety of turns Grantland Rice's own life took in his seventy-four years. Readers of How You Played the Game will also find a vivid and honest account of how a thoughtful and consistent philosophy can give shape and meaning to sports and sportswriting, maybe even to life as a whole."—Randy Roberts

Library Journal
At the turn of the century, the United States was on the verge of a golden age of sport; sport was about to become "one of the most important and obsessive American mass preoccupations ever." At the same time, a young Nashville reporter named Grantand Rice was beginning to cover sports, and the man and the era were a perfect match--he gave it voice and it stirred him to speak. Sportswriter Harper gives a fascinating account of our games and times as seen by Rice in the first half of this century. Ironically, his shortcoming is in presenting Rice the man. We see Rice as hale-fellow-well-met, as a moral (though racially prejudiced) man, and as a booster of sport, but we seldom see deeper. Harper does confront this problem ("So self-effacing was Rice that even in his memoirs he fairly well excluded himself"), but it still detracts from an otherwise excellent work. Recommended for larger libraries.--Jim G. Burns, Ottumwa P.L., IA
Kirkus Reviews
A portrait of a true original who pioneered modern sports journalism, though he may be best remembered for his doggerel. Fresh out of Vanderbilt in 1901, native Tennessean Rice took a job as a reporter for the Nashville Daily News. Harper (Purdue Univ.) zestfully recreates the backdrop for Rice's first piece-a 300-word story on a Southern League baseball game-and includes the quaint fact that he brought his typewriter with him. That was the beginning of a career that spanned 53 years and produced 67 million words, including 22,000 columns and 14 books. Rice wrote about, and often became friends with, the greatest names in sport: heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey; Bill Tilden, the preeminent tennis star of the 1920s; Babe Ruth; "The Galloping Ghost," Red Grange; the great woman athlete Babe Didrickson; and Ty Cobb, the baseball legend whom Rice took credit for discovering. He also numbered among his friends and drinking buddies fellow writers Ring Lardner and Don Marquis and President Warren G. Herding. Harper includes a lot of information and has apparently exhausted the archives in writing of Rice's career and friendships; it may seem too much for those only glancingly familiar with his importance. But he had considerable clout in his day and his megaselling autobiography, The Tumult and the Shouting, remains an important, if dated, contribution to sports history. Unfortunately, Harper also takes Rice's poetry a bit too seriously ("But now the fast years hurry by / Like meteors against the sky"). Though he did write the most memorable-and perhaps best-lead in sports history when he immortalized the 1924 Notre Dame backfield: "Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the FourHorsemen rode again." Harper's style never quite gets to the inner man, but it almost doesn't matter. His talent lies in sorting out his extensive research. (38 photos, not seen) .
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826212047
  • Publisher: University of Missouri Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/1999
  • Pages: 605
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

William Harper teaches at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

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