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Learning to Win

Learning to Win: Sports, Education, and Social Change in Twentieth-Century North Carolina

Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 392
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  • Book Info
    Learning to Win
    Book Description:

    Over the past century, high school and college athletics have grown into one of America's most beloved--and most controversial--institutions, inspiring great loyalty while sparking fierce disputes.In this richly detailed book, Pamela Grundy examines the many meanings that school sports took on in North Carolina, linking athletic programs at state universities, public high schools, women's colleges, and African American educational institutions to social and economic shifts that include the expansion of industry, the advent of woman suffrage, and the rise and fall of Jim Crow. Drawing heavily on oral history interviews, Grundy charts the many pleasures of athletics, from the simple joy of backyard basketball to the exhilaration of a state championship run. She also explores conflicts provoked by sports within the state--clashes over the growth of college athletics, the propriety of women's competition, and the connection between sports and racial integration, for example. Within this chronicle, familiar athletic narratives take on new meanings, moving beyond timeless stories of courage, fortitude, or failure to illuminate questions about race, manhood and womanhood, the purpose of education, the meaning of competition, and the structure of American society.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-1972-9
    Subjects: Education, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-1)
    (pp. 3-9)

    In a dusty yard far down a rural road, a young man aims at a battered hoop that once served as a bicycle tire rim but which has been transformed into a basketball goal. As the light begins to fade, and the buzz of rural evening builds up from the ground, he lofts the ball again and again, sending the rim clattering, savoring the joy of motion and the pleasure of accomplishment. “The thing about basketball—even if there’s nobody else around you can always practice on your own,” David Thompson explained, years after his solitary workouts in the small...

  4. CHAPTER ONE The Fire of Rivalry Men’s College Athletics, 1880–1901
    (pp. 10-39)

    In the spring of 1891 the student magazine at a small African American college in Salisbury, North Carolina, set in type a curious complaint. “I don’t know by whose authority, but the base ball grounds given to us by the President through the consent of the Faculty, has been trespassed upon by some person or persons taking it upon themselves to plough it up,” the author fumed. “Turnips are good things in their places; the same is true of the other members of the vegetable kingdom; but nobody will say that their proper place is on a base ball field...

  5. CHAPTER TWO Our Own Ability Sport and Image among College Women, 1900–1920
    (pp. 40-68)

    The first intercollegiate basketball game in the history of Charlotte, North Carolina, took place in the rain on the afternoon of April 8, 1907. At precisely 4:30 P.M. two teams spilled onto the outdoor field, accompanied by “a tumult of cheers and an avalanche of streamers.” A large and eager audience ringed the court, standing along the sidelines or watching from the advantageous seats of horse-drawn carriages. Spectators unable to secure admission scaled nearby buildings to catch glimpses of the grounds. Although the game ended with the low score of 10-4, it became the talk of the city, prompting even...

  6. CHAPTER THREE Preparation for Citizenship The Spread of High School Basketball, 1913–1934
    (pp. 69-96)

    In the opening months of 1927, members of the girls’ basketball team at Lincolnton High School arranged themselves on the school steps for a yearbook photograph. Lincoln County, North Carolina, was still a largely rural area, tucked into the foothills of a conservative southern state. But no one would have known it from the picture. Newspapers, magazines, and movies had spread the daring styles of the 1920s to even the most remote corners of North Carolina, and the Lincolnton team members sported bobbed hair, surprisingly low necklines, and brightly patterned socks rolled down below their knees. An accompanying description cast...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR The Relationships of Life White Men, Competition, and the Structure of Society, 1919–1936
    (pp. 97-127)

    On August 9, 1919, Charlotte streetcar driver Roland Mc-Cachren walked off the job. That evening, 150 newly unionized drivers locked the city’s streetcars in their night storage barn and announced that they would not resume work until they reached a settlement with their employer, the Southern Public Utilities Company. Running the bustling city’s public transportation system was a steady job, and it carried far more prestige than work in the cotton mills that ringed the city and provided much of its wage employment. But the hours were long, and as driver Jesse Ashe later recalled, they “didn’t have no money...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE It Was Our Whole Lives The Growth of Women’s Basketball, 1920–1953
    (pp. 128-157)

    In the spring of 1949, the twelve members of the Highland High School Ramlette basketball team packed themselves into an assortment of supporters’ vehicles and embarked on the long and bumpy journey from Gastonia east to Durham. The Ramlettes had played a stellar season, had won the district tournament held in neighboring Bessemer City, and thus had gained the right to compete for the state championship, 150 miles away at North Carolina College. Before they left, the students from the close-knit school had packed the gym to cheer them on. “Go Thompson!” they had yelled. “Go Davis!” “Go Adams!” “We...

  9. CHAPTER SIX A Special Type of Discipline Manhood and Community in African American Institutions, 1923–1957
    (pp. 158-189)

    Amid the mountains outside Charleston, West Virginia, in the mid-1940s, North Carolina College basketball coach John B. McLendon Jr. found himself facing an angry young white man and a potentially explosive situation. McLendon and his team had boarded the bus after a game with West Virginia State and discovered only one seat open. Under the protocols of segregation, white riders had filled the front of the bus, and black riders had gone to the back. The lone empty place sat right on the dividing line, next to a young white woman with a baby in her arms. After a quick...

  10. CHAPTER SEVEN The Big Time College Hoops on the Rise, 1946–1965
    (pp. 190-225)

    In the winter of 1947 a group of students from rural Claremont High School made a hundred-mile trip to see a basketball game. The ride from Catawba County to the state capital in Raleigh remained a formidable journey on North Carolina’s still-developing highway system, but the excited students paid little attention to the road. Word had begun to filter through the state that the team from North Carolina State College was playing basketball almost too good to be believed, and the Claremont players wanted to see it for themselves. They were not disappointed. Almost half a century later, one squad...

  11. CHAPTER EIGHT From Amazons to Glamazons The Decline of Women’s Basketball, 1936–1956
    (pp. 226-257)

    On the afternoon of March 12, 1951 the members of the women’s basketball team from Lincolnton High School stood waiting in the wings of the Southern Pines High School gymnasium, poised to defend the championship they had captured in a surprise run through the inaugural Girls’ Invitational State Basketball Tournament the year before. As the players shifted nervously from foot to foot, the lights dimmed, the packed gymnasium grew quiet, and a spotlight illuminated the center of the floor. An announcer began to call each player’s name, and Lincolnton forward Ramona Hinkle savored the mingled sensations of tension and excitement....

  12. CHAPTER NINE The Seat of the Trouble Athletes, Cheerleaders, and Civil Rights, 1938–1971
    (pp. 258-294)

    In early February 1968 the starting fives for the North Carolina State Wolfpack and the University of North Carolina Tar Heels trotted out onto the Reynolds Coliseum floor, prepared for yet another episode in a long and heated rivalry. Despite a freezing storm that had closed the public schools and turned roads into treacherous sheets of ice, Reynolds, as always, was packed full with loyal Wolfpack fans. The lights of Everett Case’s applause meter flickered up and down to the rhythm of their cheers, and as the players readied themselves for the opening jump ball, the air tingled with a...

  13. EPILOGUE Sports and Social Change
    (pp. 295-302)

    The NCAA championship game had wound down to its final moments as the UNC Tar Heels, trailing, set up for one last play. The spectators that packed the large arena, exhausted but exhilarated by the contest they had witnessed, leaned forward in anticipation, and in homes across the country eager viewers fixed their eyes on television screens. The defenders ranged themselves around the basket, the ball came into bounds, and as countless Tar Heel supporters held their breath, it rested for an instant in the hands of player number 23, who then sent it arching toward the goal. The net...

  14. NOTES
    (pp. 303-340)
    (pp. 341-358)
    (pp. 359-362)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 363-377)