UIL Contributes Artifacts to New Exhibit on Texas High School Football
By Chris Schmidt, Communications Officer | Tuesday, September 06, 2011 2:16 PM
Wilson high school playoff game ball, ca. 2011. The UIL sets aside a number of footballs for use during the 2011 playoffs - except for this one, which will remain on display. Here is rests in the cradle of a spring-loaded snapping machine developed by Ballinger Head Coach Felton "Pooch" Wright in the 1930s.
Photo by Rebecca Kinnison
Texas high school football history would be incomplete without acknowledging the role the University Interscholastic League played in its growth. A new exhibit at The Bob Bullock State History Museum chronicles the history of the sport and includes contributions made by the League.
Texas High School Football: More Than The Game, a special exhibition open through January 22, recounts stories of past gridiron glories and all the pageantry that surrounds the game. As the governing body of Texas high school extracurricular contests since 1910, the UIL has played a major role in shaping the sport into what it is today.
“You can’t tell the history of Texas high school football without telling the history of the UIL,” said Joe Nick Patoski, guest curator of the exhibit. “[The UIL] remains inextricably tied to all aspects of the game.”
The UIL donated five items to the exhibit including three re-districting maps, a high school football and a bound copy of UIL Constitution and Contest Rules from 1911-1924. Although the first sanctioned UIL football state championship was played in January 1921, rules in football appeared in the UIL Constitution and Contest Rules as early as 1914.
In the early days, all UIL rules in football could fit on one page of the UIL Constitution and Contest Rules. One of the first provisions noted that winning teams should not claim the football of the defeated team, as the practice had proved too expensive for smaller schools.
“The rules of high school football may have evolved over time, but the lessons of leadership and citizenship have always remained,” said UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt. “The role the UIL plays as a governing body has had a lasting impact on the history of this game. We are excited that the League was able to contribute to the retelling of Texas high school football history.”
Re-districting maps provide a glimpse into one of the most important duties of the UIL. Every two years the League reclassifies and realigns its member schools based on enrollment and geographical location to provide an equal playing field within conferences and districts. Simple office items like push pins and rubber bands are used on road maps of Texas to complete the very complicated task of realigning districts.
“By laying down rules and then establishing not only districts but also a playoff system throughout [Texas], UIL has been the standard that everybody aspires towards,” Patoski said. “Over time what has been interesting is how the UIL has strived to be more inclusive. If you choose to participate, there is no event in any community in Texas that is as inclusive and as welcoming in as high school football.”
Texas High School Football: More Than the Game is on view in the Albert and Ethel Herzstein Hall of Special Exhibitions at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum.