Tuesday, May 23, 2017

WPA Broomball

Above: The description for this photograph, ca. 1935-1943, reads: "Broomball is popular with girls at Nicollet Field [Minneapolis, Minnesota], where Henry Sampson and Mrs. Martha Bates are the WPA Supervisors. In this picture, Shirley Elvig has taken a tumble in the midst of a play with Jean McDonald and Elizabeth Evans." Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: Another scene from the WPA Broomball game. During the New Deal era, the WPA helped run thousands of adult recreation projects for men and women. Wouldn't it be great if we did the same thing today, especially considering the tremendous problems of obesity and type 2 diabetes that America is struggling with today? (See the CDC's notes about both at "Adult Obesity Facts"). Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Broomball seems to be a fairly popular sport today, and USA Broomball describes the history of the game: "While the history of broomball is rather vague, a few main facts have been widely reported. Broomball as we know it was first played in Canada in the early 1900's by street car workers using a small soccer ball and corn brooms. The sport evolved and was brought down to the United States. The first games were reportedly played in Minnesota, the birthplace of USA Broomball, beginning in the 1930's. Leagues, however did not blossom until the 1960's..." 

USA Broomball also describes how the game is played today: "Broomball is a winter sport played in ice arenas and community parks throughout the country. It is a game very similar to hockey in its formation and rules, but also incorporates some soccer strategies. The game is played on a hockey rink with two teams consisting of six players on each side (a goalie, two defensemen and three forwards). Similar to hockey and soccer, the object of the game is to score more goals than the opposing team. A player uses a stick (a shaft with a molded broom-shaped head) to maneuver a six-inch diameter ball up and down the ice. Instead of skates, players wear spongy-soled shoes to gain traction when running on the slippery surface."

Notice that the game began to gain popularity in the United States "beginning in the 1930s." Could the WPA have played a vital role in the establishment of this new sport?

"But it seems pretty clear that we must plan for, and help to bring about, an expanded economy which will result in more security, in more employment, in more recreation..."

--President Franklin Roosevelt, "Excerpts from the Press Conference, December 28, 1943

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