Cover image for How you played the game : the life of Grantland Rice
How you played the game : the life of Grantland Rice
Harper, William A. (William Arthur), 1944-
Publication Information:
Columbia : University of Missouri Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xiv, 605 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV742.42.R53 H37 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Centering around the life and times of the revered American sportswriter Grantland Rice (1880-1954), How You Played the Game takes us back to those magical days of sporting tales and mythic heroes. Through Rice's eyes we behold such sports as bicycle racing, boxing, golf, baseball, football, and tennis as they were played before 1950. We witness ups and downs in the careers of such legendary figures as Christy Mathewson, Jack Dempsey, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Jim Thorpe, Red Grange, Bobby Jones, Bill Tilden, Notre Dame's Four Horsemen, Gene Tunney, and Babe Didrikson--all of whom Rice helped become household names.

Grantland Rice was a remarkably gifted and honorable sportswriter. From his early days in Nashville and Atlanta, to his famed years in New York, Rice was acknowledged by all for his uncanny grasp of the ins and outs of a dozen sports, as well as his personal friendship with hundreds of sportsmen and sportswomen. As a pioneer in American sportswriting, Rice helped establish and dignify the profession, sitting shoulder to shoulder in press boxes around the nation with the likes of Ring Lardner, Damon Runyon, Heywood Broun, and Red Smith.

Besides being a first-rate reporter, Rice was also a columnist, poet, magazine and book writer, film producer, family man, war veteran, fund-raiser, and skillful golfer. His personal accomplishments over a half century as an advocate for sports and good sportsmanship are astounding by any standard. What truly set Rice apart from so many of his peers, however, was the idea behind his sports reporting and writing. He believed that good sportsmanship was capable of lifting individuals, societies, and even nations to remarkable heights of moral and social action.

More than just a biography of Grantland Rice, How You Played the Game is about the rise of American sports and the early days of those who created the art and craft of sportswriting. Exploring the life of a man who perfectly blended journalism and sporting culture, this book is sure to appeal to all, sports lovers or not.

Author Notes

William Harper teaches at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Rice, the father of modern sportswriters, began his legendary career in the late 1890s and was still writing in 1954 for the upstart Sports Illustrated. His dramatic leads, often incorporating references to classical literature, might seem ludicrous today, but they were exactly right in the 1920s, as sporting events were rising to prominence. Harper, a professor at Purdue, traces Rice's style to an Old World liberal education based upon a knowledge of Greek and Latin grammar and literature. Rice is often dismissed by modern critics as a mere cheerleader, but Harper effectively defends Rice's commitment to promoting the values that sports can represent. This is not only a carefully researched, well-written biography of a seminal figure in sports history, but also a remarkable time line that takes readers from an era when athletes were considered little more than bums to the dawn of today's modern era, when Michael Jordan may be the most recognizable person in the world. --Wes Lukowsky

Library Journal Review

At the turn of the century, the United States was on the verge of a golden age of sport; sport was about to become "one of the most important and obsessive American mass preoccupations ever." At the same time, a young Nashville reporter named Grantand Rice was beginning to cover sports, and the man and the era were a perfect match‘he gave it voice and it stirred him to speak. Sportswriter Harper gives a fascinating account of our games and times as seen by Rice in the first half of this century. Ironically, his shortcoming is in presenting Rice the man. We see Rice as hale-fellow-well-met, as a moral (though racially prejudiced) man, and as a booster of sport, but we seldom see deeper. Harper does confront this problem ("So self-effacing was Rice that even in his memoirs he fairly well excluded himself"), but it still detracts from an otherwise excellent work. Recommended for larger libraries.‘Jim G. Burns, Ottumwa P.L., IA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.