The Big Scrum: How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football

I finished reading The Big Scrum: How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football earlier this week. Any fan of football will enjoy this look at the origins of the game, since so many features of modern football result directly from the reforms of this period: the forward pass, the line of scrimmage, the ten yard rule, the fourth down, and many others.

Ironically, the book would have been better served by less focus on Roosevelt and more on the other figures behind the origins of the game. The biographical information is shallow and doesn’t cover anything we don’t already know about Roosevelt. And although the book credits him as the man who “saved football,” his contribution was mostly limited to using the power of his office and the strength of his personality to encourage much needed reforms. The yeoman’s work was done by others, but because the narrative’s frame is Roosevelt, the others get short shrift.

Still, the writing is compelling and anyone who enjoys football will get a lot out of this book.