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Walter Camp

Sport American football
Born April 7, 1859
Place of birth New Britain, Connecticut
Died March 14, 1925 (age 66)
Place of death New York City, New York
Career highlights
Overall 81–5–3
Coaching stats
College Football DataWarehouse
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1888–1891
1892, 1894–1895
Yale
Stanford
College Football Hall of Fame, 1951 (Bio)

Walter Chauncey Camp (April 7, 1859 – March 14, 1925) was a sports writer and American football coach known as the "Father of American Football". With John Heisman, Amos Alonzo Stagg, Pop Warner, Fielding Yost, and George Halas, Camp was one of the most accomplished persons in the early history of American football.

Camp was born in the city of New Britain, Connecticut, the son of Leverett Lee and Ellen Sophia (Cornwell) Camp. He attended Hopkins Grammar School in New Haven, entered Yale College in 1876, and graduated in 1880. At Yale he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity.

By the age of 33, twelve years after graduating from Yale, Walter Camp had already become known as the "Father of American Football". In a column in the popular magazine Harper's Weekly, sports columnist Caspar Whitney had applied the nickname; the sobriquet was appropriate because, by 1892, Camp had almost single-handedly fashioned the game of modern American football.

On June 30, 1888, Camp married Alice Graham Sumner, sister if William Graham Sumner. They had two children: Walter Camp, Jr. (born 1891) and Janet Camp Troxell (born 1897).

Rules committee and writing

Camp was the dominant voice on the various collegiate football rules committees that developed the American game from his time as a player at Yale until his death. He is credited with innovations such as the snap-back from center, the system of downs, and the points system, as well the introduction of the long-standard offensive arrangement of players (a seven-man offensive line and a four-man backfield consisting of a quarterback, two halfbacks, and a fullback). Camp was also responsible for introducing the "safety", the awarding of two points to the defensive side for tackling a ball carrier in his own end zone followed by a free kick by the offense from its own 20-yard line (to change possession). This is significant as rugby union has no point value award for this action, but instead awards a scrummage to the attacking side five meters from the goalline.

Despite having a full-time job at the New Haven Clock Company and being an unpaid yet very involved adviser to the Yale football team, Camp wrote articles and books on gridiron and also on sports in general. By the time of his death, he had written nearly 30 books and more than 250 magazine articles. His articles appeared in national periodicals such as Harper's Weekly, Collier's, Outing, Outlook, and The Independent, and in juvenile magazines such as St. Nicholas, Youth's Companion and Boys' Magazine. His stories also appeared in major daily newspapers throughout the United States. He also selected an annual "All-American" team. According to his biographer, Richard P. Borkowski, "Camp was instrumental through writing and lecturing in attaching an almost mythical atmosphere of manliness and heroism to the game not previously known in American team sports."

The Daily Dozen

Camp was a proponent of exercise, and not just for the athletes he coached. While working as an adviser to the U.S. Military during the first world war, he devised a program to help servicemen become more physically fit. This program came to be called the "Daily Dozen," a series of setting-up exercises that could be done every day. Both the Army and the Navy used Camp's methods ("Walter Camp, Father of Football," Atlanta Constitution, 19 September 1920, p. 2D). As their name indicated, there were twelve exercises, and they could be completed in about eight minutes. ("Camp's Daily Dozen Exercises," Boston Globe, 11 July 1920, p. 64) A prolific writer, Camp wrote a book explaining the exercises and extolling their benefits. During the 1920s, a number of newspapers and magazines used the term "Daily Dozen" to refer to exercise in general. (Lulu Hunt Peters, "Diet and Health: The Daily Dozens-- Take 'Em." Los Angeles Times, 8 June 1927, p. A6) Starting in 1922, the new medium of radio began offering morning setting-up exercises, using Camp's system.

References

  • Ronald A. Smith, Sports and Freedom: The Rise of Big-Time College Athletics, (1990)
  • "Walter Camp Found All-American Eleven Selections and Originated the Daily Dozen." New York Times, March 15, 1925. p. 1.
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