Kinesiology professor authors book on role of race in collegiate athletes

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — "Moments of Impact: Injury, Racialized Memory, and Reconciliation in College Football" explores how race played a role in the injuries, legacies, and the community response to three collegiate African-American football players in the first half of the 20th century. Jaime Schultz, associate professor of kinesiology and women's, gender, and sexuality studies at Penn State, is its author.

In the first half of the 20th century, Jack Trice, Ozzie Simmons, and Johnny Bright played college football for three Iowa institutions: Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, and Drake University, respectively. At a time when the overwhelming majority of their opponents and teammates were white, the three men, all African-American, sustained serious injuries on the gridiron, either because of their talents, their race, or, as Schultz examines, most likely a combination of the two.

"Moments of Impact" tells their stories and looks at how the local communities of which the players were once a part have forgotten and remembered those injuries over time. Of particular interest are the ways those memories have manifested in a number of commemorations, including a stadium name, a trophy, and the dedication of a football field.

“I was inspired by this topic when one of my students at the University of Iowa, where I previously taught, explained the story behind Floyd of Rosedale, which is the trophy for which the Iowa and Minnesota football teams play each year,” Schultz said. “It had to do with injuries Ozzie Simmons sustained in 1934, when he was one of only a handful of black players in the game. I read up on the subject and came across two more stories in which African-American men, Jack Trice and Johnny Bright, were seriously injured while playing Iowa college football in the first half of the century. All three incidents inspired some type of material culture — a stadium name, a field name, and the trophy, so it made sense to bring them all together in this book.”

In the book, Schultz focuses on the historical and racial circumstances of the careers of Trice, Simmons and Bright, as well as the processes and politics of cultural memory. Schultz develops the concept of “racialized memory,” defined as a communal form of remembering imbued with racial significance.

“Their stories are important because these men were phenomenal athletes whose talents deserve recognition,” Schultz said. “But I also use their stories to explore what I call ‘racialized memory,’ or the idea that present-day observers use race and racism to explain the men’s injuries in ways that past audiences did not.”

"Moments of Impact: Injury, Racialized Memory, and Reconciliation in College Football," is 216 pages, and includes 25 photographs. It will become available in 2016. Schultz is also the author of "Qualifying Times: Points of Change in U.S. Women’s Sport."

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Last Updated December 11, 2015