Thursday, August 14, 2014

Chicago Catholics and Sport Internships

The Catholic contribution to the history of sport in the twentieth-century United States is a rich but often overlooked topic. Professor Robert Bireley, S.J. is looking for an intern or two interested in uncovering this important history through a study of the Catholic Youth Organization's National Boxing Program or Arch Ward, columnist at the Tribune and founder of the Baseball and Football All Stars Games.

1. The Catholic Youth Organization’s National Boxing Program. Founded and overseen by Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Bernard Sheil between the 1930s and 1960s, the CYO’s boxing program served to spotlight the best in amateur boxing in the United States. Every spring the Tribune sponsored the "Golden Gloves" a national competition for amateur boxers. (Mohammed Ali came up through the Golden Gloves.). Many of the competitors in the Golden Gloves came from the CYO. This

Sheil was extremely progressive, the founder of the CYO, the Catholic Youth Organization (principally for sports), and a pioneer in the Catholic Interracial Council and prominent in Catholic-Jewish Relations, but has been overlooked in the history books and no biography of him appears to exist. This Fall 2014 internship would involve digging into the archives at Loyola’s Special Collections, at the Archdiocese, the Newberry Library, and the digital resources to which the Loyola Libraries subscribes. The final project would be a paper bringing together the information uncovered.

2. Arch Ward, famous sports editor at the Chicago Tribune. Ward started both the baseball and football All Star games. Today, the baseball All Star game is still played. The football All Star game, played in mid-August, pitted the College All Stars of the previous year against the champions of the NFL the previous season. It was a major Chicago event played in Soldiers Field each year. But it ceased to be played in the 1960's. Ward also had a part in the Golden Gloves.

In addition to being a promoter and sports columnist (he was the author of the daily column in the Trib, "In the Wake of the News"), Ward was a prominent Catholic Chicagoan. The Tribune sent him to Rome to cover the papal election of 1939. There are many different angles from which to study Ward. Material on Ward is likely to be found in the archives of the Tribune, as well as in other Chicago-area archives.

If you are interested in learning more about, or applying for, either of these emails, please contact Prof Robert Bireley, S.J. by email (

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