By: Kevin Grace
On December 3, 1907, an angry father wrote to the Board of Directors at the University of Cincinnati:
Enclosed you find a doctor bill for treatment of a fractured nose, rendered to my son Armin C. Arend, who was hurt in a flag rush on the 30th of October; the rush being aided and supported by the officials of the University of Cincinnati. I hope your Honorable Body doesn’t expect that I have to pay this bill since I, as well as my son, am opposed to flag rushes. Please take this matter into your hands, & judge for yourself who should pay this bill. Remember, that I paid tuition for this day, which is not given as a holiday in the School Calendar of the University of Cincinnati.
It is hard enough for me as a workingman to pay tuition let alone such foolish unnecessary expenses.
3318 Bonaparte Avenue, City
The bill in question, for $5.00, was referred to the Board’s Law Committee, which quickly denied the father’s claim. As no further word was heard from Mr. Arend, presumably he chalked up the medical bill to an educational expense, like young Armin’s textbooks, but literally, a lesson in the “school of hard knocks.”
Because that is what “flag rush” was during the Progressive Era, a bloodsport of occasional broken noses, broken arms, concussions, and countless contusions and abrasions. A variation on games we know as “capture the flag” and “red rover,” flag rush was a heightened example of these, and was popular on college and university campuses around the country.