Gari Melchers, "Portrait of President Theodore Roosevelt, 1908, oil on canvas, Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Insitution

Theodore Roosevelt saw his first game of  football in 1876, when, as  a freshman his alma mater,  Havard, played arch rival Yale.  From that first encounter, he developed a life-long interest in the game, admiring  its potential for building character. But the game at the time was brutish and dangerous, where severe player  injuries and deaths were commonplace.  By 1905, when Roosevelt was U.S. President, Charles Eliot, president of Havard,  wanted to suspend intercollegiate play. While Roosevelt wanted  to eliminate the “needless brutality”, he was strongly opposed to its abolition. Thus was the catalyst of the White House  ”football summit” of leading coaches and thinkers.

Enter John Miller, a correspondent for National Review, who writes the The Big Scrum: How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football (HarperCollins Publishers, 2011), a “richly detailed history of football’s founding”.  Since most of us know little about the progression of the sport of football,  The Big Scrum introduces us to its early players,  coaches, pioneers and the history of this dangerous sport.   Available in the Melchers Museum Shop for $25.99.
The Big Scrum by John J. Miller

By the way, a scrum…

1 – a rugby play in which the forwards of each side form a tight formation and struggle to take possession of the ball using their feet when the ball is tossed in among them.
2 – an usually brief and disorderly struggle or fight.