The army was the only hope to save college football in 1943

Did you know that during 1943, when World War II was raging, college football almost disappeared from America? The following newspaper article appeared in The Tuscaloosa News on July 6, 1943 about the situation.

Army Could Help Save Football, Says Weiss


Only the army can save college football from folding up, Sammy Weiss, congressman from Pennsylvania, professional grid referee and former Duquesne star, declared today.

army saved college football in 1943Daytona Beach, Florida. Bethune-Cookman College. Spring football practice. 1943 (photographer Gordon Parks, Library of Congress)

“At this late date, there is only one thing that can save the sport and that is for the army to give its trainees the go-ahead sign,” said Rep. Weiss in an interview.

The army has 130,000 young men in colleges undergoing special training as engineers, medical officers, and in other technical pursuits. However, army officials said only last week that the schedule set for these soldiers simply doesn’t allow enough time for football, much as they’d like to arrange it.

Football Practice 1943 by Ansel Adams (Library of Congress)Football Practice at Japanese detention camp 1943 by Ansel Adams (Library of Congress)

In recent weeks, a number of colleges have announced they would not be able to continue football because all their mature players were in uniform and they felt the 17-year-olds would not fill the breach.

Weiss, chairman of an informal committee that has been urging the War Department to allow army college trainees to participate in intercollegiate games, was gloomy about the outlook.

“I fear that when the decision is made, it may not be favorable to football,” Weiss said.

“I have discussed that time factor with numerous army officers and they say the boys could devote an hour or two a day to football without interferring (sic) with class room work. In fact, the boys are the most concerned of all about giving up the game.

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