As the most popular sport in the United States, football occupies a central place in popular discourse. Since the early twentieth century, public engagement with football has been central to sport culture. Across the South, football provided a moment of common experience, and this was especially true of Rollins College. Being the oldest liberal arts institution in Florida, life at Rollins was linked to football for decades. Yet, as this comment suggested, the nature of the relationship could not be unaffected by the changing racial dynamic in the United States. As a small liberal arts college, the faculty and students at Rollins has long supported “progressive” racial politics. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of that history in the 1947 Rollins/Ohio Wesleyan University football game is how that racial progressiveness vie with the reality of White Supremacy. Despite notable social progress since World War II, Florida in the late 1940s remained a frontier state in terms of racial relations, since the state law still prohibited the mixed participation in any educational programs. When Ohio Wesleyan led by Branch Rickey insisted on bringing its African American player to the game, President Hamilton Holt failed to take a stand against racial injustice, fearing violence, even though the cancellation was against his personal beliefs. Notwithstanding his own limit and surrender to political pressures in the segregated South of his time, Holt ultimately was able to stand on the right side of history and made his mark on the social integration in the United States.
Zhang, Wenxian, Raja Rahim and Julian Chambliss, "Race and Sport in the Florida Sun: The Rollins/Ohio Wesleyan Football Game of 1947." Phylon (1960-) 56, no. 2 (2019): 59-81.
Phylon: The Clark Atlanta University Review of Race and Culture