As we celebrate game day tomorrow, take a look around at the history of Oklahoma sports. First, make a quick stop at the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture’s entry on Sports. My favorite story about Oklahoma sports is our rejection of Steinbeck’s Okie portrayal in Grapes of Wrath resulting in the great OU football programs.
The Great Depression, along with the out-migration of many Oklahomans to California, an episode brought to national attention by John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath, created an image that many Oklahomans felt was undeserved. In 1945 the University of Oklahoma’s board of regents discussed the state’s morale and felt hiring a good football coach and enticing returning World War II soldiers could instill a sense of pride in the state.
Recent quote from CBS news:
Growing up Okie, I know my grandmother was none too pleased with Steinbeck or the name Okie for many years. She finally accepted Okie but never Mr. Steinbeck.
But it’s fall so we’re back to football, and so that Okie Reads remains impartial (but not in her real life) I need to highlight Pat Jones’ Tales from Oklahoma State football, written with Tulsa World sports editor, Jimmie Tramel. Who doesn’t love Barry Sanders?
And our sports legend that remains non-bedlam, would be Jim Thorpe. We’re very fortunate to have Kate Buford’s Native American Son: the Life and Sporting Legend of Jim Thorpe.
Hope these examples take you away from the television for a few minutes, lots of great books on Oklahoma sports greats, and the game (whichever game that would be).
Today, however, it’s Football, Football, Football.