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American football at the 1932 Summer Olympics

American football (demonstration)
at the Games of the X Olympiad
Venue Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Dates August 8, 1932

American football was a demonstration sport at the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. On the evening of August 8, 1932, seniors from three Western universities (Cal, Stanford, and USC) were matched against those from the East Coast's "Big Three" (Harvard, Yale, and Princeton).[1] In front of 60,000 spectators at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the West team won by a score of 7-6. All-American Gaius "Gus" Shaver from USC was the captain of the West team and the game's leading rusher with 145 yards on 16 attempts.[2][3] The football game at the 1932 Summer Olympics, combined with a similar demonstration game at 1933 World's Fair, led to the College All-Star Game which was an important factor in the growth of professional football in the United States.[3]


  • Origins 1
  • Game summary 2
  • Participants 3
  • Aftermath 4
  • Rosters 5
    • West 5.1
    • East 5.2
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8


The game was originally proposed by organizers as an "intersectional" match-up between the defending all-stars who would have graduated by the Olympic games.[3]

Game summary

The game was scoreless until early in the fourth quarter. When a field goal attempt by the East fell short[nb 1], Shaver and another player from the West muffed the ball in an attempt to pick it up.[1][3] According to various reports, Burton Strange from the East either carried the loose ball across the goal line[1] or simply fell on it in the end zone[3] to give his team a 6 - 0 lead. Eddie Mays' extra point kick was blocked.[3] With three minutes left in the game, Shaver scored over the right tackle to tie the game at 6 - 6, and Ed Kirwan's conversion put the West in the lead for good.[1][3]


As that year's Olympic Stadium, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum hosted an all-star match-up of college football players at the 1932 Summer Olympics.

Like the other Olympic athletes, players for both teams lived in the Olympic Village.[1] The starters for the West team consisted of six USC players, three from Stanford, and two from California.[3] The starting line-up for the East team was four players from Harvard and seven from Yale.[3] A number of College Football Hall of Famers elected not to play in the game. All-American Albie Booth of Yale as well as Erny Pinckert and All-American Johnny Baker of USC decided not to play when offered paying jobs in Hollywood.[3] Barry Wood of Harvard, another All-American, was also selected to play in the demonstration, however, he reportedly declined in order to concentrate on his studies.[5]


After the game, the Los Angeles Times wrote:

It remained for a spectacle listed on the program as 'American Football' to provide the Tenth Olympiad with its greatest thrill to date. Chances are the game will become an international pastime before the memory of this night game dies away.[3]

However, this prediction was wrong because this sport didn't became popular outside the US. The sport in some way accelerate in popularity after

  1. ^ a b c d e f
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ International Federation of American Football, 2004, "IFAF" Access date: October 12, 2007.
  7. ^
  8. ^


  1. ^ Ray Schmidt's recap states that the missed field goal was attempted by Ed Rotan,[3] however, the official Olympic report states that it was attempted by Eddie Mays.[1]


See also




However, American football has yet to be accepted by the International Olympic Committee as an official Olympic sport.[7] Among the various problems the IFAF has to solve in order to be accepted by the IOC are building a competitive women's division, expanding the sport into Africa, and overcoming the current worldwide competitive imbalance that is in favor of American teams.[8]


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