'America needs farmers': Communal identity, the University of Iowa football team and the farm crisis of the 1980s

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During the 1980s, Iowa farmers struggled through grave economic situations comparable to the Depression. Many farmers were forced to leave family farms, unable to pay their large debts. At the same time, the Hayden Fry-led University of Iowa football team achieved tremendous success, moving to the top of national polls in 1985. This paper examines how the success of the University of Iowa football team impacted on the farm community. Those in rural communities around the state, many struggling with their own achievement and identity, rallied around the success of the Hawkeyes. The topic helps delineate the relationship between intercollegiate athletic programmes and surrounding communities. 'Iowa football reflects the mores of a greater community which is all of Iowa. There are striking similarities between the uphill fight of the Hawkeyes to win football recognition among the toughest foes, and the uphill fight of the university itself to win a higher place of honor, respect and proud support among its own people, and the uphill fight of the state itself to become a positive factor among the community of states.' Loren Hickerson, first executive director of the University of Iowa Alumni Association (during the 1950s).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1360-1378
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of the History of Sport
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2010


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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