Wakefield%20Playing%20in%20the%20Postwar%20World

Wakefield%20Playing%20in%20the%20Postwar%20World - PLAYING...

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Unformatted text preview: PLAYING IN THE POST-WAR WORLD AND PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE OF MILITARY SPORT The Armistice that put an end to the fighting of World War I left the American government without any clear plan about how best to demobilize the army and return its soldiers to the United States.1 In addition, the Army had no clear idea about how best to provide for the troops scheduled to remain in Europe as occupation forces. But the Army did recognize that they would ' need to be entertained, in part by continuing the program of sports and athletics established during the war. But the military also initiated changes in its postwar sports program in response to new needs. Armed forces athletics would serve new purposes and be conducted in new ways. Physical fitness and morale would be promoted through athletics, but so would the diplomatic needs of the United States. And after demobilization problems associated with the World War I Sports program would be addressed so that improved methods for providing athletic ' opportunities to the troops would be in place should the need arise in the future. When the guns finally went quiet on the Western Front on November 11, 1918, many of the soldiers who had left the United States and gone to Europe to participate in the Great War and had served either behind the lines or in battle discovered that they would not be returning home immediately. Even though they were technically no longer at war, they found that their commanders intended that they continue to maintain the same high level of physical fitness while waiting to be demobilized which they had establiShed during training. This continued training was designed to help the doughboys avoid laziness and boredom in the absence of battle. To further prevent the disintegration of troop morale because of the lack of activity they were also encouraged to play sports or to watch others playing, to attend educational classes, and to solve mock combat problems. Furthermore, soldier—athletes in the military of the United States were asked to participate in competitions against the soldier—athletes of other nations, in exhibitions designed to demonstrate the superiority of American sports and sportsmen. ' ’ 36 Playing to Win Before American disengagement from Europe, many doughboys also became involved, either as participants or as observers, in a great athletic festival staged in Paris and designed to demonstrate that the soldiers of the victorious allied armies could unite for peaceful purposes as well as for war. These 1919 Inter—Allied Games directly preceded the 1920 Antwerp Olympics, and on the surface they appear to have many similarities to those grand international sports meetings reestablished by the Baron de Courbetin less than thirty years before. But the Inter-Allied Games also displayed striking dissimilarities in organization and purpose connecting them more to the diplomatic struggle being waged at , the Paris Peace Conference for the future of Europe than to other international athletic competitions. Most of the troops who had gone to Europe to fight in the Great War were demobilized by the end of 1920.2 Back in the United States, Douglas MacArthur, wartime commander of the Forty—second (Rainbow) Division, took over as Superintendent at West Point and created a program of intramural athletics for the cadets based on his understanding of how best to train future officers. And during the subsequent decade, officers in the American army determined to study the ways in which sports had been provided to the soldiers and sailors during the First World War and to apply their experiences to planning for future engagements overseas. A series of lectures and meetings at the Army War College during the 1920s led to significant changes in the way opportunities for recreation were made available to those in the As American planners began to raise the mass army that would ultimately fight the Second World War, the design of the sports program through which soldiers and sailors were trained and entertained reflected new thinking, not only about the practical purposes of such a sports program, but the philosophical purposes behind the creation of an American masculine ideal through sport. Although the Armistice of November 11, 1918, effectively ended American involvement in combat on the Western Front, those troops who had been‘sent to Europe to participate in the war were not sent home all at once. Soldiers were needed to occupy the Rhineland in anticipation of an eventual peace treaty, and soldiers were needed to begin the long process of restoring'the French and Belgian countryside to its prewar condition. Furthermore, regiments dis— patched to Russia to deal with the consequences of the 1917 Revolution remained in Archangel and Siberia until 1920. The presence of large numbers of troops from the United States in Europe after November, 1918, required Army author- ities to plan for their entertainment and amusement. As they Waited for demobili— zation and for the final treaty of peace to be negotiated, the doughboys had Planning for the Future 37 time to kill, and the army and the representatives of the Young Men’s Christian Association handling soldier welfare matters forthe Army, instituted a series of athletic competitions to fill the soldiers? days. L ‘ ‘ The sports program devised by the YMCA and other civilian agencies at the behest of the military ultimately met the doughboys’ need to be distracted and entertained while waiting to go home. But like the athletic. activities that had occurred during the war, these postwar competitions also helped reinforce the dominating position. held by America’s soldiers in a Europe devastated by war. They served to drive home the message that participation in American sports taught values required in a rapidly changing world in which the United States had seized a major role. Finally, the military’s sports program provided further evidence of the superiority of American men, whose success'on the battlefield was reflected in their athletic successes. David M. [Kennedy has described how the Army chose to deal with post- Armistice idleness by requiring its troops to solve sham training problems, to participate in education classes, and to take advantage of the sports competitions being held down to the company level.3 But for the Mericans, sport served not only to prevent boredom, but to ensure virtue as well. Before the war many had commonly assumed that sporting activities helped keep young men both physically fit and morally clean.4 But the military’s plans for the actual practice of athletics among the doughboys remaining in Europe was much less about that romanticized vision of sport as a uniquely clean and pure endeavor (although some Division newspapers, such as the Amaroc News, reflected that ideal as late as 1919). Rather, the Army turned to sports as a- practical device to keep the young, bored doughboys from drinking and making friendly overtures to the women of France.5 ' ’ Furthermore, as President Woodrow Wilson struggled to achieve his goal of a new world order, the YMCA and the army discovered that athletic success could demonstrate American-- power and further American prestige, providing additional confirmation that the American point of view must be respected at the peace table as well. The means used by the YMCA and army authorities to promote athletic competitions show how the earlier vision of virtuous competition gave way to the reality of national diplomatic needs in the postwar period. ‘ ' Although the place that idealized sport had held as a repository of virtue was never completely superseded, beyond the use of athletics as a means of instilling character came the recOgnition that sports for the army could have a functional purpose. Therefore, the military began to make plans to supply the soldiers with as many athletic opportunities as possible. To facilitate the 38 Playing to Win staging of athletic events, a building program was undertaken that would leave the citizens of Coblenz, Germany, and other Rhineland cities with first—class athletic facilities. According to Jack Gann, writing in the Third Division’s newspaper the Amaroc News, the Occupation army’s sports program was designed to get everyone involved, whether as player or spectator, so that those not previously interested in sports would become interested, while those pre— viously interested in only one sport would be able to learn to appreciate other ’ athletic endeavors. Although the army’s purposes in conducting this sports program appear to have been primarily instrumental, as Gann reminded his readers, unlike civilian professional sports army sports were clean and demon- strated that success could be achieved without sacrificing honesty.6 During that first winter in Germany, the army athletic program included regimental basketball, boxing, and wrestling/Enough people associated with the Ninth Infantry Regiment were interested in either playing or watching the matches and games that a new mess hall Was constructed to handle the crowds.7 Later in 1919, athletic festivals were staged in the Third Army area in a newly built stadium, with adjacent stables. A similar stadium was built in the Ander— nach area, featuring hot showers, a press box, and special boxes for the ladies.8 At both Heddesdorf and Montabaur, baseball fields were laid out and stadia constructed so that doughboys could watch the action in comfort. 'And for those soldiers forced to remain in Germany during the next winter, the Young Men’s Christian Association ordered five hundred pairs of ice skates and promised to have outdoor hockey rinks built for the doughboys’ use. Reflecting the high— ‘ level interest in the competitions stated in the new stadia General Pershing paid a visit to the First versus Second Division baseball game at Montabaur.9 Successful teams and individual athletes were entertained by the YMCA. For example, the track team from the Eightieth Division’s Second Battalion 1 was treated to a special supper because they, according to the Division’s news,— paper, The Whizz—Bang, “true to the tradition of the battalion, brought it home in first place.”10 Another soldier newspaper, The Cootie, reported that boxing and wrestling were “by the far the most popular sports and entertainments during the winter months” for the doughboys and that basketball games in the regif ‘ mental league were drawing large crowds.”11 The men of the Eighty—first Division also had a unit newspaper. Covering the entire front page of The Wildcat is an enormous picture of an enraged cat, captioned “Breaking Through.” At the top of the page, on the right side of the newspaper’s name is an illustration of a wildcat pitching what looks like a baseball, while on the left is a wildcat holding a baseball bat in his paw. Even those doughboys with limited reading skills received a message from The Planning/'Ffor the. Future 39 Wildcat’s first page about the importance of sports to masculinity and wartime success, assuming they understood the presumed significance of baseball to American male culture at all .(which assumption belies the fact that large numbers of American soldiers were recent immigrants to the United States, having grown up in countries where other sports, such as soccer, were commonly played) .12 Inside, a report from the 318th Machine Gun company adVises that they are “very busy these days returning equipment, playing baseball,'and talking of going home.”13 ‘ According to the WTzizz-Bang, any team or individual’s athletic successes were a reflection of the tradition of accomplishment already established on the battlefield. In fact, for the Eightieth Division, the best description of their fighting ability was contained in the “Official Batting Average of the AEF 1918 Season,” which was reprinted in Whizz—Bang from the Stars and Stripes. In contrast to the batting averages compiled at the end of every baseball season, however, this AEF batting average was determined not through a ratio of hits ‘ to outs, but through the number of ofcers and men captured, the number of artillery pieces seized, and the kilometers advanced toward the enemy. Rather than present those statistics straightforwardly, therefore, the editors of Stars and Stripes and of Whizz—Bang decided to provide an interpretation of the ' statistics that they believed would be more meaningful to their readers. Those Whizz-Bang readers were no doubt proud to learn that the Eightieth Division ranked second among divisions in the National Army in kilometers advanced and first in the number of machine guns taken. They also must surely have ' concluded that the fact that the Eightieth ranked sixth in kilometers advanced ' among the entire AEF established their fighting prowess.” On the other hand, we cannot assume that all young men in the Eightieth Division, or all readers of Whizz—Bang, either understood the significance of if baseball batting averages, or accepted that baseball batting averages could reasonably be modified to show how the division fared while in combat. As' with the use of metaphorical language derived from sport in Stars and Stripes, the development of a method drawn from baseball to distinguish the experiences of army divisions in World War I carried with it assumptions about what the doughboys knew, or should know, about sports. These batting averages were developed for the precise reason that all Soldiers were presumed to be as vitally concerned with sports as they were with other “manly” endeavors. And if doughboys were not interested in sports, but were anxious to learn how their Division did in the war, theyxwould soon learn from reading the Whizz-Bang that sport should be important to them if they wanted to understand their place in the world. Thus, a hegemonic ideal of masculinity was reinforced by tying 40 Playing to Win together the language of sport and war, marginalizing those men uninterested in or alienated from athletics. . I Aside from their own interunit competitions in sports 11ke baseball, basketball, and boxing, the Americans also continued the pattern they had established during the war of encouraging soldiers’in other armies to play those sports common in the United States but not in Europe. And as they had dur1ng the war, American soldier-athletes participated in track and field meets against athletes from the allied armies. But in the postwar world, representatives of the United States military and of the YMCA were even more anxious to establish the dominance of American men and the way of life which had created this superiority by demonstrating their prowess in athletics. To that end they organized sports festivals to which they invited representatives of other armies, and built large athletic complexes both in France and in occupied Germany. Despite a consensus that victory on the playing field was a predictor of victory in other endeavors, the army and the civilian agencies working with the army to organize sports were unable to reach agreement on how best to ensure American athletic domination. They were unsure whether it would be best to identify and train elite athletes or emphasize the athletic abilities of regular soldiers—especially as Americans began to compete against allied athletes. The American attempt to acquaint allied troops with American games began as soon after the Armistice as circumstances permitted. The French were introduced to basketball in April, 1919, as the game was set to become a part of the French army’s athletic program. Basketball also was included in an athletic meet held by the British Rhine Army in July 15, 1919.15 Meanwhile 2d Lt. Eric Oj erholm was dispatched for the Cologne bridgehead in June, 1919, armed with baseballs, bats, and gloves, to teach the British how to play the American game. And the French were treated to a demonstration of America’s national game by baseball teams from the Second Division stationed at Wiesbaden.16 As Clark" Griffith, owner of the Washington Senators put it, “America has a direct and very personal interest in the dissemination of baseball love by the doughboys.”$17 Griffith seemed to have anticipated that the spread of baseball throughout the globe would lead to a larger pool of talented players from which to draw, but what other reasons might there have beep for the Americans’ interest in sharing basketball and baseball? Although the common foot soldier may merely have wanted to show how much fun baseball and basketball were, other factors must also have led to this eagerness to see the French and British playing like the Americans, especially in those cases where it appeared that the athletic representatives of the allied armies might successfully challenge the doughboys. The fact that during one Planning for r the Future 41 . “ IE1? J three-day period American athletes broke eight French track and field records meant little when soldier boxers were struggling to survive in the ring with French boxers—especially since boxing seemed to be a uniquely manly sport.18 Indeed, at one point it appeared that the only way an American boxer was going to be able to stay with the French champion, Famey, was if he were paid. Accordingly, in an example of a case where romanticism about sport gave way to practicality, Leckie of the US Army accepted the twenty-five franc per round incentive offered by Earl Brannon of the YMCA and pocketed two hundred fifty francs at the end of a bout held in June 1919.19 However, Leckie’s success, as well as the successes of American athletes at other times during 1919, were not believed to be sufficient to establish finally the superiority of the United States and its men, to show the Europeans (whether in the Victorious allied armies or among the occupied populations) the “snap and go” that, according to the Second Division’s The Indian, the doughboys‘ had exhibited at the front.20 This was especially true as American soldier—athlews met defeat at the hands of the sportsmen'from the allied armies. Early in 1919 an editorial in Amaroc News explained that the secret of the “wonderful fighting and staying qualities of the American Army” was due to the fact that every soldier was an athlete, a situation said to be unlike that in the European armies who maintained a distinct group of professional athletes capable of making records.21 But despite the fact that every American soldier was athletic, their physical abilities were still not sufficiently developed to ensure certain success against the soldier-athletes of other nations. Accordingly, by midsummer the Amaroc News reported that the Army proposed to open a permanent sports training facility along the Rhine to provide for those soldiers who were going to compete on an elite level, thus adopting the European system of separating the best athletes from their peers. Even with that new training facility, apparently built after accepting that to be competitive American athletes had to train more regularly, Inter-Army matches held in October, 1919, revealed that the British were still in better shape than the Americans.22 Fortunately, the readers were offered an explanation for the Americans’ lack of athletic success—not only were the British competitors “professional” athletes, but the Americans were outnumbered and unable to devote full time to training because-they could not be released from military duties! Therefore, Pat Brannon of the YMCA asked that fifty athletes be placed on special duty so that “in a short time Americans will clean up on the best men that the British anszrench have.”23 As the Amaroc News commented, in order for their athletes to achieve success, American athletic officers were going to have to work harder to ensure that each organization enter competitors 42 Playing to Win in at least 70 percent of the events of an upcoming sports show which would feature competition between American units as well as competition with the British and French.24 The struggle to ensure that American athletes beat their ostensible European allies reflected more than the mere desire to win on the playing field. In 1919, as in 1917 and 1918, the strength of any country seemed to depend for proof on the strength of its sportsmen.25 ‘ 1 Although the emphasis on competition with the athletes from the allies sometimes led to a deemphasis of sports for fun, WHW of the Sixty-sixth Field Artillery still demanded that he and his buddies be'allowed to organize their own entertainment, with baseball games between different batteries, rather than just between regimental teams. And the men of the Eighty—first Division also tried to get in as many company baseball games as possible while waiting to return to the United States. Those games were planned by the soldiers'in the division and described in their newspaper.26 Thus, despite the regularization of postwar military competitions, at least some soldiers wanted to continue the pattern established during the war of spontaneous and unorganized sporting activities. When American units of the Second Division and the Third Army engaged in athletic contests with each other, the Amaroc News said they were displaying the same old spirit “that made the 2nd Division so unpopular with the Germans and so popular with the American people.” According to the editorial, that spirit was characterized by the support of the team and a refusal to quit.27 The eagerness to distinguish the American spirit as revealed through sport from that of the allied French and British, extended even more to the spirit of‘the Germans who, in the words of one writer for the Second Division’s newspaper The Indian, “had never learned to play.”28 According to The Indian, the Germans believed only in the utility of sport as it might enhance military preparation. Therefore, they could never understand why American soldiers played baseball, a game leading to nothing in particular, to be played simply because the par- ticipants enjoyed it. Of course, the pleasure many soldiers received from playing baseball was but one reason for playing the game, as it and other sports were endorsed by military leaders precisely because they believed that participation in sports was so important in soldier training. K 4 Although Americans competed against each other and against the British and French in a variety of sports, by the end of World War I the sport that had come to be seen as the truest test of masculine excellence was boxing. Despite opposition earlier in the century from some who did not wish to see respectable young men from good families engaging in physical brawls, during the war the Young Men’s Christian Association and the Knights of Columbus; Planning for the Future 5‘ 43 both provided instruction in the “manly art.” Workers frorn both organizations also served as boxing promoters and referees for the fights which they arranged, promoting fights not only between American soldiers, but between soldiers representing the British and French armies. Thus, Pvt. John E. Cooney and his buddies boxed against the French on their national holiday.29 During the postwar period a debate occurred over the Value of American participation to the ultimate outcome of the Great War. After the Armistice most people in the United States and in its armies and navies were convinced that the allies would have been defeated absent American intervention. Mean- while the English and French maintained that American help, though useful, did not materially increase the possibility of allied success. As the debate intensified, arguments about which nation had the strongest, most courageous, and most masculine men, suggested that the contribution of the United States to allied victory could best be determined by measuring the athletic ability of ‘ America’s soldiers against that of the cobelligerents. Since the truest test of manhood off of the battlefield was believed to be in the boxing ring, the YMCA’s boxing matches assumed great importance. The importance placed on the outcome of interallied boxing matches is reflected in the problems faced by fight organizers in determining the rules to be followed by the participants. As Pat Brannon of the YMCA discovered in October, 1919, when he tried to arrange a fight program, the British would not participate if they had to box by American rules. Nor did Americans want to box by British rules. Why? In Brannon’s words, fighting by the British rules would be “too much of a ladies’ affair to suit Americans. Their rules are much more complicated than ours and there are many more possibilities for fouls. From what I have seen of the British fighting, a blow struck hard enough to hurt a boxer is generally called a foul.”30 Because of the impasse over the rules, the boxing tournament between the British and the Americans that Brannon had proposed—a tournament to be held for the entertainment of the Germans as well as the soldiers of the Occupying armies—was canceled. Brannon’s explanation for the difference between the two countries’ rules provides an example of how success in sports could be connected to diplomacy and masculinity. First of all, Brannon says that the British rules are complicated. As the army had been concerned earlier in the year that American soldiers were unable to devote time to training because of their commitment to their military duties, the rejection of complicated British rules has great resonance. Sinceboxers from the US. Army would presumably fight best if they could fight “naturally” and with little training, using the British rules which demanded higher skill levels would put them at a competitive disadvantage. This is especially important in 44 Playing to Win light of earlier concerns about the extensive training and the higher level of professionalism among British military athletes. In dealing with the British desire to box by their own set of rules, Brannon was faced with a situation not dissimilar to the one that faced President Woodrow Wilson at the peace table. Brannon found that the British wanted to beat Americans in sport, just as Wilson found that the British wanted to assert their own interests at the peace talks. But Brannon also discovered that the British wanted to ensure that any sports confrontation be on their own terms. The historian Jeffrey Richards has argued that the British emphasis on the concept of “fair play” and adherence to a specific set of rules served the British particularly well as their “ideology and religion were subsumed into Imperialism” in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.31 In Richards’s view, Imperial Britain 1 used to their advantage the notion, derived from modernizing nineteenth-century sport, that so long as they seemed to play fair, any result could be justified. Ideologues for the Empire then contrasted the British adherence to their own rules to the national character of their opponents who had no regard for fair ' play. Hence for the British to agree to play by the American rules would have meant rejecting basic national values. Thus, as Wilson discovered, having a common enemy in the Germans did not necessarily create similarity of purpose ~ between the French, the British, the Italians, and the Americans.32 But even more important is Brannon’s suggestion that the British rules rendered boxing a “ladies’ affair.” As the Americans were anxious to establish the validity of their claim to having won the war despite their late entrance \ into the conflict, and as many Americans believed by 1919 that participation ‘ in war established a young man’s claim to manhood, no doughboy could consent ’ to having his masculinity reduced by participating in a ladylike isport.33 For g ‘ Pat Brannon of the YMCA a debate over the rules became a discussion of how best to establish the gender dominance of American males over their British , allies. In the post—World War I discourse, this equation of gender dominance ' with national might effectively subverted the possibility of an alternative vision of masculinity not tied to national and international needs. The establishment and preservation of a gender hierarchy demanded not only that masculine males be distinguished from effeminate males and that the gender superiOrity of American men be established, it demanded as well that women be placed firmly at the bottom. The Amaroc News cften reported about attempts by American women to perform athletically, such as when the war r worker Mildred Morris swam the Rhine, “just to show the Yanks down at Andernach that masculinity didn’t rate to grab off all the palms for athletic supremacy.”34 As Susan Cahn has shown, because swimming was viewed as Planning for the Future ‘ 45 consistent with femininity, female swimmers were often accepted even as other sportswomen were subjectxto ridicule.35 But when a group of “Y girls” proposed to organize a baseball team, their efforts were taken as comic relief, as the men they were to play were asked to wear skirts and play left-handed by the male promoters of the event. Yet despite the mockery which they' received, the Amaroc News reporter had to concede in the end that the women of the YMCA did demonstrate some real baseball ability, despite their “powder puffs and vanity cases.”36 There should have been no surprise by 1919 that at least a few women had some baseball ability as women had been playing the game collegiately since just after the Civil War, yet maintenance of gender norms required each generation to forget the athletic achievements of the previous generation’s women.37 ' In any event, commanders continued to find it difficult to get all soldiers involved in sports. To meet that challenge, the army determined by January, 1919, that a championship competition should be conducted to determine the best teams in a variety of sports. According to the plan circulated by the AEF, those teams were not to be composed of All-stars, but rather of the best rep- resentative team from each army. Thus, Headquarters would have one team, as would the First, Second, and Third Armies and the District of Paris, while the Services of Supply would have two teams in the competition. The winners from the AEF championship would, according to the army, go on to represent the US military in international competition?8 But enlisted men of limited athletic ability were also expected to participate in an “All-Point Company Championship,” in which they would score points in a pentathlon composed of runs of 100 and 880 yards, a broad jump, a shell put, and a pull up. The shell put was derived from the standard shot put, but “owing to the impossibility of securing sufficient numbers of regulation 12-pound shot, dummy Stokes Mortar shells, weighing about 12 pounds, have been ‘ substituted.”39 This company championship scheme was specifically designed to get every man involved, as even those men sick and in hospital were to be counted as present and competing for the purpose of determining the company champion. Indeed, in the words of the Training Bulletin that explained the competition, “The fighting efficiency of a company depends upon its training and the number of physically fit men it takes into the firing line. The same principles apply to these contests.”4° By determining victory through points earned, and counting every man in a company as having participated whether or not he was physically able to do so and gain points for his team, the army created a system where soldiers uninterested in athletics would be subjected to pressure from their peers to play anyway. The system also ensured that 46 v ‘ Playing to Win L:\ nonparticipants could be held responsible for their company’s failure. In other words, through the “All-Point Company Championship” the army was trying to accomplish what less direct means of persuasion had been unable to do and force all soldiers to be sportsmen. Although through this scheme the army tried to ensure that all soldiers waiting to return to the United States would become involved in athletic com- petition, many doughboys remained uninvolved in sports.41 In fact, among those World War I veterans who responded to a Military History Instltute survey, not one specifically mentioned having been involved with a company cham- pionship such as that envisaged in Training Bulletin No. 2. Apparently despite the efforts by the AEF and the YMCA, the fact that doughboys had to be coerced into the All—Point Company Championships through threats that they would be counted as if they were there even if they were sick and unable to perform belies the notion that the American men in the World War I army “naturally” or “instinctively” wanted to engage in sports. Rather, for many of these young men, failure to engage in athletics meant merely that they didn’t want to engage in athletics, not that they were any less manly. And this reluctance to participate may also suggest the frustration among the athletically unskilled soldiers with a system that demanded that they play while providing them with no reward for-playing, while valorizing the successes of those among them with excellent skills. Thus, despite the many strenuous efforts to link sports success to superior masculinity, many doughboys, for many reasons, wereable to reject that con— nection, at least at it applied to themselves. 1 After the Armistice, aside from the large number of unit competitions being conducted either spontaneously among American troops waiting to return home, or being conducted on an organized basis by representatives of the social welfare agencies charged with keeping the troops occupied, planning moved forward for a proposed “Military Olympics” involving athletes from the vic- torious armies. The original suggestion for this athletic competition had actually come before the war ended, in an October 15, 1918 memorandum from Elwood S. Brown, director of the Department of Athletics for the Young Men’s Christian Association in Paris, to Colonel Bruce Palmer of the AEF.42 Brown envisaged the proposed Military Olympics as an opportunity forcementing on the field/, of sport those “friendly ties between the men of the Allied Armies that have sprung up on the common field of battle.”43 Brown’s stated purpose in suggesting a “Military Olympics” reflects the persistence of the notion that athletic com- petition could reflect high values and aspirations and that social cohesion could . be promoted through sports. But as the planning for the games went forward, Planning for the Future 't \ 47 Brown’s lofty notion, which Donald Mrozek identifies with the culture of the Victorian rather than the Modern Age,44 came into conflict with the new rhetoric that identified national success with success on the playing field]. For many reasons, the idea of a huge athletic festival appealed to the American authorities, and by April, 1919, the work by the committee charged with the responsibility of organizing what became known as the Inter-Allied Games was well underway. One of the first matters the committee had to determine was what sports to include. Recognizing that many, if not all, sporting activities can have military applications, the committee asked whether physical challenges unique to the circumstances and technologies of the Great War should be recognized as official sports. Having determined that indeed a grenade toss competition (using the French F—l field grenade and allowing throwing tech— niques derived from either baseball as the Americans preferred or from the - method taught to the French troops) should be added to the usual running, jumping, and throwing events, the Committee then decided not to add a bayonet competition, as they feared there would be no satisfactory method of judging who won and who lost while ensuring the safety of all competitors. The Americans’ overall decision to sponsor and support a series of postwar athletic events among their own troops remaining in Europe, culminating in a meeting of sportsmen drawn from the ranks of the recently victorious armies, illustrates the way in which sport had come by 1919 to serve as a reflection of national and international values and aspirations. Richard Mandell has argued‘ that performance—oriented, disciplined, democratic, theatrically presented sport suits well the spiritual and mythic needs of a rapidly industrializing society” and the Inter-Allied Games illustrate how the officers and men recently caught up in a disciplined, performance—oriented, and industrialized war sought to have their need for spiritual meaning satisfied through nOnlethal competition.46 The games also demonstrate, once again, that the language of sport and war share metaphor, that sport and war serve to define the parameters of masculinity, and that national success at sport provides the same kind of satisfaction as national success on the battlefield. The Games were similar to, but different in a number of important ways, from the Olympic Games which had been reestablished in 1896. By contrast to the Olympics, in which only amateurs were allowed to compete, the Inter-Allied Games were open to any athlete who had worn the uniform of one of the victorious allies at any time during the Great War, even if that athlete had been or was presently a professional. The organizing committee also chose to include athletes from nations which were created from the ruins of the defeated Austro— Hungarian Empire, even if during the Great War their nations had been subsumed 48 Playing to Win under the aegis of one of the defeated powers. The decision to allow amateurs to compete with professionals would be repeated in athletic competitions during the Second World War, with special rules allowing athletes to retain their amateur status even if, as soldiers, they were technically competing for pay. Perhaps the decision to allow professionals to compete in the Inter—Allied Games reflects the inclusion in Army competitions of professional athletes such as William Wambsganss, who recalled for the Military History Institute that his occupation before being inducted into the army was professional baseball, and who was placed on his base baseball team immediately after induction.47 Including professionals also allowed for a breadth of competition as the Inter-Allied ‘Glames included matches among professional golfers who had served in the arrrnes of Great Britain, France, and the United States. . But while allowing professionals to compete with amateurs, the Committee ch0se not to include on the program any sport which depended on subjective criteria in determining the winner. Russell Weigley has identified an “American Way of War” in which military success means a complete and unambiguous victory over the enemy.48 This definition of wartime success as requiring the total collapse of the enemy left the Armistice of November 11, 1918, as an unsatisfactory conclusion to the epic struggle that preceded it in many American minds. In order to avoid unsatisfactorily ambiguous results at the Inter—Allied Games and to ensure that no final result would be left open to interpretation or accusations of bias on the part of the judges, the organizers decided to' leave diving, gymnastics and race walking (which while allowing for measurable results also allowed for disputes about the walkers’ techniques) off of the official program.49 The decision to leave off the program subjectively judged sports connects the organizers’ emphasis on rules and clearly established victories to the impetus behind the Olympics and other modern sporting activities—the desire to establish records derived from objective achievement, but also shows how the Inter-Allied Games were unique in rejecting the notion that judges and officials could overcome their national biases and reach fair decisions through adherence to higher ideals. As Modris Ecksteins has argued, World War I may be an expression of the modernist impulses also reflected in art and dance. If so, the sporting epilogue to the Great War, while beginning with the rhetoric of the previous century also seems to reflect the impulses and desires of the modern age.” Finally, because the organizers wanted to encourage participation by as many athletes and nations as possible (so long as they had fought on the right side), they decided to encourage national sports committees to ask that sports in which athletes from their nations especially excelled be included. Thus, both Planning for the Future 49 types of wrestling, Greco-Roman, in which the Americans had little tradition, and “Catch—as-Catch—Can,” the style to which Americans were accustomed were offered. Likewise, the organizers included all three typesof football: soccer, American intercollegiate, and rugby (although there was ultimately no com- petition in American-rules football as there were no entries other than that from the championship army team). And riding competitions were conducted not only in the familiar forms of show-jumping and three—day eventing, but in the form favored by the athletes of Hedjaz (a newly recognized nation carved out of the late Ottoman Empire, which ultimately became part of present-day Saudi Arabia), who provided a demonstration of camel racing. The decision to include equestrian events reflected the lingering belief that cavalry still had a place in the age of mechanized warfare even though some national teams were unable to provide their own mounts without turning to privately owned stock (reflecting the sacrifice of much of the horseflesh of Europe during the war) .51 Although the organizers of the Inter—Allied Games wanted to provide every nation with opportunities to excel in some type of athletic competition, they in no way wanted the United States to fail. Even though the American YMCA and the AEF representatives on the Games committee never explicitly stated their desire to show the superiority of American masculinity, the troops watching preparations for the games implicitly understood that underlying all of the reasons for having an athletic competition lay the desire to show American soldiers and sailors in the best light. After all, as one writer for Stars and Stripes pointed out, America must keep its place “on the top of the international athletic heap.”52 Therefore, money was collected in the United States to pay passage for the return to Europe of those especially talented doughboy athletes who had been demobilized and gone home.53 And, a special army training bulletin detailed the options open to officers and enlisted men who had earned a place on the United States team for the Inter-Allied Games if their units were being returned to the United States. Those athletes were entitled to request that they be allowed to detach from their outfit and stay in Europe until after the games. If they chose to stay in France, they would be assembled at the Athletic Training Camp near Colombes Stadium for the duration of competition.54 David M. Kennedy has suggested that World War I was in part about a reaffirmation and reassertion of masculinity, after the so-called crisis of masculinity that engulfed Western culture at the end of the nineteenth century, and indeed, according to Kennedy, many American feminists opposed the United States’ participation in the European conflict precisely because they feared that that participation would valorize masculine aggressions.55 And in explaining the hold the military had on the American imagination at the beginning of the 50 Playing to Win twentieth century as a place where manliness and masculinity were not in crisis, Donald J. Mrozek has argued that military service during the First World War was particularly appreciated as a refuge, a strong, though temporary,5:nale preserve to which men might escape from obligations toward women. . In many ways the Inter-Allied Games were also about the reaffirmation of masculinity and about establishing yet another masculine preserve. Therefore: despite the fact that American women served in the Navy as “Yeomanettes and other women served in a civilian capacity as telephone operators and ambulance drivers, no provision was made for them to compete in the games.” Women with the YMCA and the Red Cross were, however, invited to the athlete’s village to serve as hostesses or to dance with the assembled athletes although” the official record of the games explains that in the absence of suffiCIent numbers of women the soldiers felt free to take on the costumes of women.58 Women war workers were also encouraged to attend the competitions to cheer on their favorites. Thus, even those women who had served their nation in war were returned to their prewar roles of helper and spectator, separate and apart from the manly business of sport. _ . . Clearly, the organizers of the games believed that American interests would be served in a number of ways by the successful presentation of a grand “Military Olympics.” For one thing, the essential superiority of the American way of life would be demonstrated, as, in the words of the Amaroc News’s J Gann, “the Balance of the world will gain in the newly acquired rea11zation that Americans can play just as hard as they fight or work.”59 And the games themselves would serve crucial diplomatic and strategic purposes as President Woodrow Wilson and the other allied leaders negotiated the final treaty of peace with the Central Powers. After World War I the face of Europe was changed through the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires and the recognition of new nations in central Europe and the Balkans. The recogmtion of these newly independent countries was one of Wilson’s . goals and the Committee organizing the Inter—Allied Games helped promote that goal by extending invitations to teams from Romania and Czechoslovakia. ‘ I I The symbolic effect of their participation cannot have been unintentional. For example, editors of the games’s official memoir noted that the partic1pat1ng Czech soccer team had been subjected to a ten-year boycott by the Austrians, who had prevented the team from playing in international competition.60 Sim— ilarly, the participation of a team from Serbia, chosen by the “Comite Serbi- Croate-Slavine,” reflected the role that Serbs had played in precipitating the war. Curiously, however, that team competed not as a team from the new Yugoslavia, but as a team from Serbia, reflecting the state of confusion prevailing Planning for the Future v, ‘ 51 in Eastern Europe and the Balkans as peace negotiators tried to draw effective new boundaries. And the organizing committee’s decision to invite participating nations to propose competitions in their national games, along with the decision to award no overall recognition to the nation accumulating the most victories, but rather to award a trophy or prize to the winning nation in each type of sport, ensured that each nation might have its moment of affirrnation.61 This emphasis on the guarantee of national rather than individual success at sport is again- in contrast to the rhetoric of the Olympic Games, whose representatives con— tinued unsuccessfully to present the games as an opportunity for individual achievement in the succeeding decades.62 As Thomas J. Knock has suggested in his recent study of Woodrow Wilson’s diplomacy during the war and postwar years, the President desired to establish a community of nations in the postwar world—a community of nations not unlike that invited to the Inter—Allied Games—and hence the Committee’s decision to promote the games as a gath— ering of nations rather than a gathering of individual sportsmen seems to have paralleled the president’s thinking.63 ’ But the decision to sponsor the Inter-Allied Games served yet other American purposes as well. President Wilson was anxious to establish America’s preeminent status at the peace talks, and to promote the idea that because of American entry into the war the allies were able to prevail .64 One way to establish the strength and power of the American army, aside from its active presence on the battlefields of the Western Front at the end of the conflict, was through a demonstration of its organizational and engineering ability after the war. Accordingly, army engineers and troops took over building the new stadium designed for the games, which would be named after General PerShing-. The army also offered to feed and house all participants in the games at American expense, establishing the status of the United States as a surviving r world economic power by providing for those» teams whose countries were too poor to provide for themselves. As the official history of the. games explained, “The visitors gasped at the magnitude of the entertainment arrangements. Free ice cream and other dainties were things that been unknown for a long time in some of their war—ravaged countries.”65 Furthermore, as European- and African-Americans worked to finish the facility within which the track and field, equestrian, baseball, basketball, boxing, and wrestling competitions of the Inter-Allied Games would be held, the AEF hoped to demonstrate as well the way in which the United States had resolved conflicts within its own interracial society. This demonstration, as black Pioneer troops labored under the direction of white engineers to build roads around Pershing Stadium as well as the Stadium itself, Obviously was fraught with 52 Playing to Win h pocrisy especially as the place of African—American soldiers within integrade Aymerican units had been consistently denied during thlelwar. 1Yet Eggeof ‘ ke it clear that a mu t1rac1a con 1n ff 1al account endeavors to ma - . I :erican soldiers was, working to ensure that the competition would begin on time in a finished facility. And although neither army un1ts during the war no; the athlete’s village was integrated, African—Amerlcan athletes were accep :1 on the American team, including Solomon Butler of Dubuque .College, w o laced first in the running broad jump.66 Since many of the new nations of Europe Evere going to be created by bringing together members 0ftratillt13hl‘13113; hosgih: ' ted to show how racial an e c en51 ethnic groups, the army perhaps wan - - - could be overcome within a society by pomtmg out how white and black troops ' ' for the Games. ble to coo erate 1n prepanng a venue . ‘ were :lthough all: organizing committee and the chromclers of the Inter—Allied Games may have wanted to suggest that Butler’s success proved the harmonious state of race relations in the United States, the nation’s black newspaper: wire1 well aware of the contradictions between military rhetor1c and reality. T at 0 Butler jumped farther in Paris than the European-Amerlphanfivlvtilnneglofn national championship broad jump, and that Butler defeated e G; y was champion Charlie Paddock in the 90-meter race at the Tu1ler1es fl e36 no; according to the Pittsburgh Courier and the Chicago Defenderhlre ectricfions only of his individual athletic superiority but of the absurdlty of e life 67 placed on African-Americans both within the rmhtary and in c1v1111atr‘11m8héd Indeed, James Heyman and Robert Hayden of the 815th Pioneers w .od G es second and third respectively in the 220—meter mat the Inter—Allie th arrcilid later returned to France rather than stay in the Umted States where ey 68 ‘ net feiltiiiftilryithe strength, virtue, and manliness of all of the allies “g: to be confirmed through athletic competition. Germany had be;n.g1:venGel-— 1916 Olympics Games, which were not held because of the warAlleid games many, nor Austria, would be allowed to partic1patein the‘lnter- A 1Jile d‘néfioné This was appropriate according to the Stars and Stripes, as the h emken the have always been the leading promoters of orgamzed sportsTalpd :fnce of the principal role in the revival of the Olymplc Games. . . . I e a s man Central Powers will not be an important loss, for the reason’stghat er y, Austria, and Turkey have never been real devotees of sport. The In any event, the Inter-Allied Games proved to be a rousmg success.fll d citizens of France as well as many of the soldiers remainmg 1n Eurotple 10:e the ninety thousand seat Pershing Stadium to overflowmg on more an occasion. Although the Americans swept the majority of the track and field \ ‘Planning for the Future medals, the French war hero Jean Vermeulen, running with an arm damaged in the fighting, won the cross-country run and the modified Marathon. The pre- and postwar Italian Olympic champions continued their dominance in fencing. Czechoslovakia’s soccer team defeated that of France. Australians and New Zealanders did very well in rowing and swimming. Belgians and Serbs excelled in Greco-Roman wrestling. And Chaplain Fred C. Thompson, US. Army, establishedthe no doubt still-standing world’s record in the hand grenade throw with a toss of 74.929 meters. Indeed, the success of the games. is reflected in the 1927 and 1938 guides to battlefields and monuments of the world war published by the War Department to allow Americans to revisit the scenes of the Great War, which include information about the sites of the Inter-Allied competition.70 When he became Superintendent of West Point after World War I, Gen. Douglas MacArthur brought with him certain strong beliefs about the value of athletics to the man in battle. In order to ensure that future officers were imbued with a sense of the importance of sports, MacArthur established‘an intramural training program in the sports of baseball, football, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, track, tennis, golf, and hockey. He argued that athletic competitiOn “brings out the qualities of leadership, quickness of decision, promptness of action, mental and muscular coordination, aggressive, and courage” necessary for the soldier, and demanded that Academy cadets meet rigorous standards in sports themselves that they might later be effective leaders of men.71 After the First World War, other army officers madeia concerted effort to analyze where the institution had succeeded and where it had failed in its mission to bring a massive number of soldiers into battle along an extensive European front. Through its schools system, the army also asked its best and brightest young officers to begin making plans for how the military of the United States could best be utilized should it be called on again to engage in warfare overseas. This process involved not only questioning such matters as how a division should be organized and equipped, or how airpower should be brought into support of ground troops, but how the welfare needs of each individual soldier should be met. In a 1929 lecture at the Army War'College, Brigadier Gen. Edward L. King described the organization of the army’s G-3 Division and what the Army had developed to ensure that the problems of soldier welfare, especially those involving sports, encountered‘in France in 1918 would not be repeated. He described a system in which an entire section of the Division’s Training Branch was given over to the control of education and schools. Moreover, according 53 54 Playing to Win to King, that section was responsible for all general athletic questions pertaining to the army, including the preparation of War Department pollcles relatrve to the conduct of army athletics, maintaining the liaison with the National Amateur Athletic Federation, the American Olympic Committee, and other organizatlons interested in the promotion of amateur athletics, and finally, controlling the army’s Athletic Fund.72 In other words, King described a system in Wthh the army maintained total control over all aspects of a soldier’s athletic life. How did the army come to seize that control from the socral welfare organizations which had conducted Army athletics during the Great War? And what advantages and disadvantages to the military, and to the indrvrdual soldier athletes, came with the new system? Finally, what lessons were learned during the First World War that persuaded the army that it should govern its own system of sports and athletics? Certainly, the Young Men’s ChriStian Association and other welfare organizations such as the Knights of Columbus and the Jewish Welfare Board were able during 1917 and 1918 to provide opportunities for many soldiers and sailors to participate in a variety of sporting activities, whether aspart of thelr training in the United States or as part of their leisure—time act1v1t1es wh11e in Europe. However, there was considerable competition among the different welfare agencies to show how efficient and accommodating each could be in providing the best equipment, referees, and coaching to the troops. This come petition led to confusion and frustration for many soldiers who observed that equipment was often not available when they needed it most. As the Amaroc News sardonically commented in May 1919, with regard to the arrival in Europe of boxes of baseballs, eighteen months before, when the YMCA ordered all of those baseballs, the Yanks and “Heinies” were fiaternizing in a big war game, and now that the balls had arrived, the doughboys were going home.73 Soldier complaints regarding the availability of athletic equipment and playing opportunities might not have led to the changes described by Gen. Ernest L. King absent a 1922 lecture at the Army War College by Raymond B. Fosdrck, the civilian who had served as overall ecordinator of social welfare matters for the military during the Great War. Although Fosdick had earlier described in glowing terms the planning which created a system of sports, games, hostess houses, and facilities for writing home to loved ones at every American tra1n1ng facility, by 1922 he apparently had concluded that the need to provide diversions for soldiers and sailors could better be met through the military itself: Although Fosdick continued to believe that saloons and disorderly houses outside military bases harmed morale, if not private morals, and continued to argue that an alternative must be provided if saloons and disorderly houses Planning for the Future _ 55 were to be shut down, by 1922 he had determined that the preventive system provided during World War I was sufficiently flawed that another system must be put in place. In explaining his reasons why an organization such as the YMCA should not be put in charge of recreation in the future, Fosdick first explained the problems which had occurred in 1917—1918, when representatives of the Knightsof Columbus and the Jewish Welfare Board also tried to provide welfare V services to the troops. According to Fosdick, this led to an unnecessary and inefficient duplication of effort in some areas While in the Second Army area the soldiers were provided with not a single baseball.74 Although the lack of adequate equipment and professional organization did not keep soldiers from playing games on their own, and many observers argued that the fact that American soldiers were able to play games despite their lack of equipment showed how tough and well-prepared they were to fend for themselves in battle » if need be, Fosdick argued for a system that ensured that the troops would not need to improvise a game with sticks and socks, rather than bats and baseballs.75 Despite Fosdick’s suggestion that some nonsectarian group might be able to organize welfare programs for the military (with religious matters handled by the chaplains), he ultimately argued that such a group would need a lot of military supervision to be sure that every soldier received the recreation he needed. Accordingly, Fosdick concluded the army should organize its own athletics and recreation program for the soldiers in the future. He called for a well—equipped library on every post, a “Hostess House” where soldiers could “meet their women folks under rational circumstances,” group singing, educa- tional programs, and a system of organized athletics.76 Significantly, despite the YMCA’s active involvement in the Inter—Allied Games, and in promoting championship boxing along the occupied Rhine, Fosdick rejected the notion of athletic specialization in favor of games of mass participation. As Fosdick said, he believed that “you can get better psychological results when you get the crowd playing than you do when you get the crowd watching a team play.”77 Fosdick’s determination that the military should take over the respon— sibility of providing welfare services to the troops surely was influenced by his study of matters on the Western Front, and the problems associated with civilian control over those services. But he must also have been anxious to avoid a repeat of the 1919 incident in Newport; Rhode Island, in which civilian Christian ministers who had served as advisers to the sailors congregating in Newport as part of the World War I buildup were accused in a naval investigation of homosexual misconduct. Although the ministers argued that their service at the naval hospital and at the YMCA in Newport was an expression of their Christian brotherhood and desire to provide charity to those young men in need 56 , Playing to Win of help, the navy insinuated that they were motivated by homosexual desires, and that no “normal” man would wish to work at a hospital or YMCA unless he was interested in sexual relations with the men to whom he providing services. Despite the navy’s efforts, with the support of the ministerial community of Newport the accused clergymen were able to persuade a jury hearing the charges that they were innocent of sexual misconduct. Rather, they were able to convince themselves and the jury that the intimacy of their relations with the young sailors was not perverted because they engaged in no specific sexual acts.78 Raymond B. Fosdick must have understood that the Newport inquiry, involving as it did allegations of misconduct between YMCA war workers and sailors, did not lessen the danger of similar allegations against YMCA workers serving soldiers. Therefore, his anxiety that the military take over these social welfare duties must have been even greater than publicly acknowledged. And the army must have welcomed his suggestions as they provided another means of ensuring the masculinity of their soldiers. No longer would they be exposed to the brotherly ministrations of civilian Christian ministers, but would instead receive their religious instruction and their entertainment from uniformed men, whose sexuality was under the military’s control and reflected the twentieth century’s new emphasis on self—conscious heterosexuality as a marker of masculinity.79 Similarly, soldiers’ sporting lives would be organized and pro-— moted by their fellow soldiers, men whose masculinity was presumably guaran- teed by their manifest athletic ability. Thus, Gen. Ernest L. King’s 1929 description of the duties of the G-3 Training Branch seems to reflect many of Fosdick’s suggestions, although when King spoke the army had apparently already deviated from Fosdick’s recom- mendations in a number of ways. The army adopted the notion of athletics and education, although the idea of group singing rapidly fell out of favor. And significantly, the army chose to continue its liaison with the American Olympic Committee and the NAAF to ensure that elite athletes as well as those with little physical coordination or interest in athletic activities would be provided for within the military. Indeed, during the Second World War, a large program of service baseball and boxing was developed to showcase the professional talents of men such as Joe Dimaggio and Joe Louis. . , At the end of the First World War, the American military undertook an elaborate program to ensure that the troops waiting to be demobilized would stay under control. Athletics was a part of that program. For the doughboys, sports were a means of maintaining physical fitness, high morale, company cohesion, and entertainment. But sports, when played between soldier—athletes from the Victorious armies, also helped develop a hierarchy distinguishingnot Planning for the :Future 57 only the more physically adept individual from the less athletic, but a hierarchy distinguishing between stronger and weaker nations. The possession of athletic ability thus stood for more than physical coordination, it represented an entire complex of desirable characteristics, the sum of which marked masculinity and in turn reflected national virility. Although other means of establishing mas- culinity had existed before the war, and would continue to exist thereafter, within the military athletics seemed to have proven their value during the war, and would be developed further in the postwar world as a method of creating the masculine soldier for future conflicts. ...
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