The Jewish Football Coach Who Shook Up Athletics, and Protestant Dominance, at Harvard

In his forthcoming book Dyed in Crimson: Football, Faith, and Remaking Harvard’s America, Zev Eleff examines the decision in 1926 by Bill Bingham, then the Harvard University athletic director, to hire a Jew named Arnold Horween to coach the football team—and its consequences. Bingham hoped Horween could help revitalize the sport and make it more enjoyable for players and for other students; Eleff argues that, in a time of growing anti-Semitism at elite colleges, the decision opened doors for Jews in the Ivy League. Menachem Wecker writes:

In the 1920s, Boston Brahmins—wealthy New Englanders and descendants of the Puritans—ruled Harvard. Football provided a site where a working-class Protestant (Bingham), an Irish Catholic (Eddie Casey, the freshman coach), and a Midwestern Jew (Horween) could chip away at that elitism, and replace social status with merit.

A former captain of the Harvard team, Horween went on to run his family’s successful leather business in Chicago and to serve as a trustee of the Chicago Symphony. He and his brother Ralph played in the National Football League in 1923—a feat that wouldn’t be repeated in the NFL until 2012, when the Jewish brothers Mitchell Schwartz and Geoff Schwartz played for the Browns and the Vikings respectively.

Horween had already graduated from Harvard when . . . Jewish quotas were instituted. But his prominence in Cambridge challenged both Harvard’s president and its elite culture “that intended to keep outsiders . . . out of their school,” Eleff said.

In 1922, a Yale University alumni committee investigated the basketball program after a team of Jewish players from the Atlas Club beat the all-Gentile Yale team 42-22 in a charity game in front of the largest crowd in New Haven history. . . . The committee blamed anti-Semitic coaching, and after Jewish players were recruited, Yale went in 1923 from “the cellar to the championship,” [as one historian] wrote. But talented Jewish players were exceptions to the rule, whose athletic prowess overshadowed their Jewish identities.

Read more at JNS

More about: American Jewish History, Anti-Semitism, Football, Harvard, Sports

Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University