Earlier in the year I received in my inbox some rather nice images taken on one day by Tod Papageorge at the Alabama-Auburn foortball game, in Birmingham, Alabama in November 1970. Tod had received a Guggenheim Fellowship Grant and had chosen sport and its role in American life as his subject. 1970 was a watershed year for public opinion against the Vietnam war which cast a grave historical shadow over the project. The project was published by Aperture in the book American Sports, 1970 The publishers statement says:
"Each and every picture is electric with disquiet. Military men in uniform parade across a field or relax in the stands. Cheerleaders rehearse beneath the gaze of the police. A couple sprawls and embraces in the debris of the Indianapolis 500. And hundreds of fans are drawn in unsettling group portraits at various stadiums and in the stands of many classic American sporting events. Papageorge eloquently and palpably captures the civic and psychic distress of the time on the faces of his subjects and in their gestures and interactions"
Apart from the interest of seeing the young Jackson Five and Duke Ellington in attendance in these pictures, it certainly ads significance while viewing them to bear in mind that while cultural and sporting life continued in the US over 58,000 young American men lost their lives in Vietnam, 6,081 in the year these pictures were made alone. Most of the people in these images will go home from the football field to see the latest death tole on the evening news.
Accompanying the pictures below, Tod wrote:
"They're out-takes from my book, of course, or, more precisely negatives that I never even scanned for the book. Since I expect that most, if not all, of them will never see the light of day"
Well here they are...seeing the light of day.