A Surprise From the 1917 Football Season

Just before Christmas last year I ran across pictures of the first touchdown Rice ever scored against Texas, back in 1917. The file also held  a whole envelope full of photos taken during various games that season. I scanned most of them, thinking hey, you never know when you might want one of those. Looking through them a few days ago I suddenly felt justified. One of them jumped out at me this time–you almost never either clearly see or completely understand an image the first time you look at it–and sent me off to look for an explanation. It was this one:

Rice is in the lighter, striped jerseys and our opponents in the dark are clearly not white people. My thoughts went first to the fuss raised about playing teams with black players in the 1950s, then turned to a post I wrote all the way back in 2011 about a 1915 baseball game we played against an Asian team purporting to be from the Chinese University of Hawaii. This time, though, the opposing team turned out to be Native Americans from the Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas. (This school still exists, now as Haskell Indian Nations University. They have a fascinating history, preserved at the Haskell Cultural Center and Museum. I highly recommend clicking the link to see more about their story.)

It’s hard to know what to make of this, or even how much to make of it, but my first pass at an opinion is that the fact that these two games were played reinforces the idea that Houston’s racial etiquette in those days was essentially bi-racial, with a near total black-white divide and other racial and ethnic groups occupying a middle ground. I don’t claim to understand how this worked but I don’t see how else to explain it.

We won, by the way, 55-13, although Haskell scored one of their touchdowns on what the Thresher described as “as pretty a forward pass play as has ever been seen in the State.”

Bonus: Sorry for the long, unexplained absence. It didn’t cross my mind that anyone would notice but they sure did. I won’t do that again!

In the meantime, we play Houston this Saturday. The stadium was buzzing with activity this afternoon as upgrades are being finished before the game. Shades of George R. Brown and “Is it a day game or a night game?’

Rice Fight Never Dies–and note the furniture in those boxes!

New conference logos on the field:

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4 Responses to A Surprise From the 1917 Football Season

  1. Mike G. says:

    Throw pillows? On a dark blue sofa? On the sunny side?
    I’m thinking, this would have been more comfy on the West side, in the shade…

  2. MikeSchwartz says:

    THANK YOU for these pictures.

    My limited connection with Rice Football … (other than having some friends [who were Rice football players] while living “on campus” in Will Rice college, for my entire time at Rice) … was — mostly — through the late Paul T. Hlavinka.
    (Paul died about the end of April, 2023). (His funeral was May 5, 2023).

    As I already commented (the day before yesterday, … on Facebook),
    . . . specifically Tuesday, Septempber 5, 2023, at 9:03 PM
    . . . and, the above ‘time’ is probably MST, which is equal to PDT (= UTC minus 0700)


    Paul pretty much ran that website / web “letter” as a hobby, for about a quarter century, going back to 1998 iirc.
    Some of the time he did it with some help from others … such as David Speed Elder.

    If you would like to see the above <> on the actual Facebook web site (or, app), then … it is located at this URL:
    . . . https://www.facebook.com/RiceFootball/posts/pfbid0eS6SEftHUqcvHwGfTb34yDdx24nxVca2axbYSzeNkw5zYwZHntTMdTWSBWVeKsPfl?comment_id=852070682947465 ]

    ( “SEE ALSO”: Paul H’s obituary :
    online at [e.g.] https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/houstonchronicle/name/paul-hlavinka-obituary?id=51792312 )

    • OOPS, the little “QUOTE” which was * * * intended * * * to appear inside some double angle brackets, right before the words “Paul pretty much ran that website”,

      would have / should have SAID:

      “IMHO it might be great, but … in some ways it won’t be the same, without Paul T @Hlavinka , and [the website / web “letter”]
      * * * Rice Football dot Net * * *”

      It has been on Facebook for over 24 hours (more like 36) … and I think that if you click on my name (right above where it says “September 7, 2023 at 11:06 am”) it will show you the “original” (in context) comment on Facebook.

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