The Way Back: The Art of the Game

For the 120 years that The University of Texas has fielded a football team, fans have entered the stadium with a football program in hand. Today the program is a glossy magazine with photos and player profiles, but for many years it was a very different creature—a beautifully illustrated piece of art.

Jan Todd, UT kinesiology professor and co-director of the Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports, has cataloged more than 100 of these programs in a collaborative effort with the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History and UT Athletics. She says the programs document history in a way no other item can. “They tell a story,” she says, “not just about UT and football, but about American history. The programs often mention that game’s special events—Band Night, or Father’s Day, or honoring veterans—and give a glimpse into what life was like.”

 Some programs featured syndicated art purchased from a national distributor. That’s why the player on the 1947 program above isn’t wearing UT colors. Other programs, like Texas v. Oklahoma 1959 bottom right), were designed by local artists.

Photos courtesy The Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports.


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