Author Spotlight: Todd Mealy’s, “Glenn Killinger, All-American: Penn States World War I Sports Hero”

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Glenn Killinger, All-American deconstructs American society during World War I and a few years thereafter in order to show how sports hysteria of the 1920s created America’s first celebrities. By examining this historically important cultural movement, Mealy argues that the notion of the American hero emerged because of six factors: (1) newfound mass media models that included sports journalism, mass circulation of local stories through the Associated Press, and live broadcast radio, (2) the implementation of service sports at army and navy installations in 1917, (3) the creation of the Student Army Training Corps (which kept draft-age men in college by promising officer training in conjunction with a regular degree) and massed athletics (physical education) that mandated every college male participate in two-hours of military drill and one-hour of physical activity per day, (4) gender anxiety brought on by the “intrusion” of women into male-dominated areas like the workplace and political arena, (5) the shift from amateur to professional sports, and (6) the modern art of ballyhoo promotion that helped a sports-crazed public replace war heroes with sport celebrities. – Synopsis of “Glenn Killinger, All American”

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