Texas Ingenuity History


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Texas Sports - Ready, Set, Innovate!

The back-breaking, dust-snorting work needed to eke out a living in the early days of Texas made cowboys want to kick up their heels every once in a while and enjoy a bit of competition. Local horse races and roping competitions led to rodeos. Kids growing up in the wide-open spaces of Texas banded together, found an empty lot or field, and played ball games. As Texas public schools formed in counties across the state, they channeled students' extra energy into sports. In many communities, sports gatherings for local schools developed into an integral part of a community's social life because it offered a welcome escape from the grinding work of Texas oilfields and farms. The Friday night lights of football stadiums in the fall still serve as the focal point of many Texas towns and cities.

Scads of books have been written about Texas sports and its heroes. This book doesn't intend to duplicate that achievement. Instead, it presents an overview of Texas sports and looks at a few of the individuals and organizations that made unique and innovative contributions to sports that reached beyond our state boundaries.

Before the Texas Revolution, the Mexican territory of Texas enjoyed ranch-oriented sports including bull fighting, horse racing and rodeos. Bull fighting was outlawed in 1891, but rodeos and other horse sports continue to this day. These activities were at first informal and local. Eventually, they evolved into more formal county and state events. Anglo cowboys, Native Americans (particularly Comanche), Mexicans, and African-Americans all competed against each other in rodeo sports. Horse racing flourished until betting was outlawed in 1937 and revived again when wagering was reinstated in 1987.

Continues. . .

Texans have contributed significantly to the game of football both in the way the game is played, and in its national popularity. For example, SMU coach Ray Morrison (1915-1916, 1922-1934) invented the "Statue of Liberty" play and the five-man defensive line. Baylor coach Frank Bridges (1920-25) pioneered the spread formation, the hidden-ball play, the end-around, and the tackle-around. Dutch Meyer of TCU (1934-52) improved on the spread formation by using the double wing with two split ends and two or three wingbacks. Texas A&M coach Homer Norton (1934-1947) was the first to use a tower to observe practices. Texas native Bob Neyland served as the Tennessee coach from 1926 to 1952 and was first to capture plays on film for review and to communicate with coaches in the press box with a telephone wire.

For the rest of the story >>

The story continues in the book Texas Ingenuity... For complete information on this and other Texas stories...