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.
Young Bill Young here. I really, really, really don’t like the winter of 2009-2010. I usually like snow, but that Christmas Eve blizzard completely destroyed my holiday plans. And that last snowy blast that hit OKC put me way behind at work and at home.
At least we have the Olympics. I tend to watch the Winter games more than the Summer games because I’m a skating fan. Plus, track runners just can’t match the speed of those downhill racers. And then there’s the luge! It’s a rush to watch!
Want some reading to go along with your Olympic televiewing? How about The Winter Olympics: An Insider’s Guide to the Legends, Lore and Events of the Games? Author Ron Judd provides a history on each competitive sport, along with key figures, rising stars, judging info, anecdotes, and fascinating facts.
For the youngster in your life, there’s Freeze Frame: A Photographic History of the Winter Olympics by Sue Macy. Spectacular photography is coupled with Macy’s prose to give young readers a Winter Olympics 101 experience. Plus, there’s a foreword by ice skater extraordinaire Peggy Flemming.
Speaking of ice skating… if you’re a fan of ice dancing and you don’t like Britain’s Torvill and Dean, then we need to talk! You may be too young to remember the stunning performances by this graceful and athletic pair, but you *can* check them out on You Tube. Here they are dancing to Bolero at the 1984 Olympics. A Gold Medal performance. Priceless!
And here they are at the 1994 Olympics, where they were robbed (robbed, I tell you!) of the Gold Medal.
In Torvill and Dean: The Autobiography of Ice Dancing’s Greatest Stars, the athletes tell their own story, complete with all of the chaos and conflicts behind the scenes. For youngsters, try Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean: Ice Dancing’s Perfect Pair by Franny Shuker-Haines.
OK, that’s my Winter Olympics reading list. And let’s just end this by saying, GO TEAM USA!!