Red, brown and blue: a history and cultural poetics of high school football in Mexican American



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



High school athletics played an important role in the social, cultural, and political life of 20th century Texas. Football was especially popular. In south Texas, a region with a majority Mexican American population, school athletics served to maintain segregation between white and brown students and also to test its limits and viability. Small town institutions like the football team and the marching band were some of the first areas to experiment with inter-ethnic mixing. For the most part experiments proved successful. They helped pave the way for more substantive social and educational reforms. In the second half of the century Mexican Americans gave their own inflection to the football game. They blended traditional Mexican verbal arts forms like jests and playful insults with more conventional sports discourse. In the Lower Rio Grande Valley fans also composed corridos, traditional Mexican ballads, in honor of town and team. In this dissertation I use two major strategies: historical research and ethnography. Data have been collected from archives, newspapers, school yearbooks, interviews, fieldwork, and radio. This dissertation contributes to American and Chicano studies by presenting data and analysis from largely unexplored areas: the role of youth sports in the civil rights process and the formation of identity; and the expressive culture and folklore of Mexican American sports fans.