Thursday, December 25, 2008

This May Just Bowl You Over ...

How did an ostrich, a camel, and an elephant become involved with a rose? This is not a riddle but rather a question of history. However, I am ahead of the story so allow me to re-start.

In 1890, in Pasadena, California, the first parade was held that evolved into what we know today as the Rose Bowl Parade. There was no football game. Only the parade. That first Parade of Roses had no marching bands although they did have one the following year. Flower adorned horse drawn carriages made up the entire event as motorized vehicles were not yet available. The first parade made a net profit of $229.30.

Later, in addition to the parade, games were held including foot races, tugs of war and jousts among the local citizenry. But interest in theses type activities began to wane. The suggestion then was made to invite two college football teams to compete as a part of the celebration.

The two teams that played in college football’s first intersectional post-season game were Michigan and Stanford in 1902. Michigan was dominating the game, 49-0, when in the third quarter, the Stanford team left the field and went home. There was no more football at the Rose Tournament for several years after that “blowout.”

The main attractions in Tournament Park (the predecessor of the current Rose Bowl stadium) prior to football being reinstated included Roman-style chariot races. These races were popular until 1912, when a serious accident caused the townspeople to lose interest in that event.

So in 1913, two new events were scheduled. One of these was an ostrich race. This proved to be unsuccessful as one of the ostriches threw its jockey over a fence and into the judges’ stand. The second event was a race between a camel and an elephant. The elephant won the race but did not stop running when the race was over. After some panic with folks scattering to avoid the stampeding elephant, order was restored. So, no ostriches, camels nor elephants ever again raced at the Tournament of Roses celebration. By this time, motorized vehicles were allowed to be in the parade but they had to bring up the rear so as not to scare the carriage horses.

Finally, in 1916, football was resumed and when the new Rose Bowl stadium was completed in 1923, the annual game became known as the Rose Bowl game.

The Rose Bowl remained the only major bowl game in 1930. By 1940, there were five bowl games: the Rose Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, and the Sun Bowl. By the year 2000, 25 bowl games were played. Currently there are 34 games on the list.

There is money to be made in the bowl game business. The successful ones, such as the Rose Bowl, are extremely wealthy. Not all attempts to create a new bowl game have been successful. Some of those that have fallen by the wayside include the Refrigerator Bowl, the Cigar Bowl, the Salad Bowl (later to become the very successful Fiesta Bowl), and the Poulan Weed-Eater Independence Bowl. There still is a successful Independence Bowl but the Poulan Weed-Eater part was dropped. This also was known as the Weedwhacker Bowl. Today, the bottom-rung bowl games are still referred to as Weedwhacker Bowls. And rather crudely the phrase Toilet Bowl sometimes is used to refer to a game that is particularly poor in play quality.

Bowl games are part of the American Way. And now you know the answer to my opening question, that being, a rose is a rose by any other name unless it happens to be an ostrich, a camel, or an elephant.

Winston Hamby

The Beaumont Enterprise
Guest Columnist


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