Monday, January 28, 2019

Sports at Hereford College, c. 1908

Like several of the the other small colleges in northwest Texas, Hereford College had its sports teams. Students played tennis, baseball, basketball, and for a few years, football. The main sport was baseball.

In the early 1900s, schools in that region spent no money on sports programs. If students played, depending on what game it was, they first cleared and marked a field; or they set up a court with a tennis net or basketball goals. In addition, student athletes paid for their own equipment and provided their own transportation. On occasion, students were able to persuade some of the townspeople to contribute to the local team. But for the most part, the players themselves spent their own money in order to play.

Some of the more interesting tidbits of information relate to the Hereford football team. In that time and place, uniforms were simple jerseys and trousers, with no protective gear like thigh pads and shoulder pads. Apparently, some players didn't even own a leather helmet.

Hard, open-field hits were not common. A typical play from scrimmage involved hiking the ball to the quarterback who would run down the field surrounded by his teammates. Once the defense surrounded the ball carrier and his blockers, the large throng of players would begin to slow, and one or more of the defenders would make the tackle.

Scoring was also much different than it is today. Typically, when the offense pushed deep into the other team's territory, they would attempt a drop-kick field goal. However, because a touchdown scored more points, some teams preferred to maintain the offensive attack.

In order to overcome a strong defensive goal-line stand, some offenses resorted to a risky play. Within a few feet of the goal, the offense would hike the ball to the quarterback, then pick him up and throw him over the opposing linemen. This play usually produced a touchdown. But it often resulted in a painful injury for the ball carrier. Not long after it became common, officials outlawed this play.


W. M. Stoker, A Pictorial History of Early Higher Education in the Texas Panhandle (Canyon, TX: West Texas State University, 1976), 26, 30.

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