Date of Award

Fall 2009

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

J William Harris


By the turn of the twentieth century, intercollegiate football had developed a loyal following throughout the United States; however, since the game originated and rose to prominence in New England, national attention generally remained focused on the Northeast. As a consequence, historians of early collegiate sport have almost exclusively focused upon Yale, Harvard, and a handful of Northeastern colleges, and have promulgated the idea that football in the nineteenth century supported the ideals of northern industrialism. This limited view fails to recognize the fact that as a cultural text, football told a story that was interpreted by many different groups, each creating their own distinct narrative of the game. Drawn more from the traditions of Victorian amateurism than the prevailing understanding of American gamesmanship, the Sewanee narrative provides a decidedly southern interpretation of football and in so doing it reveals intricate connections between Christianity and honor culture in the South.