Grantland Rice’s “The Answer”

Henry Grantland Rice was the sportswriter who was at the center at the center of the Golden Age of Sports, writing heroically about the achievements of the new American Gods: Bobby Jones, Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, Bill Tilden and Red Grange. With language that sometimes approached poetry, he deliberately turned them into objects of hero worship.  Of the famed backfield of Notre Dame, he wrote:

Outlined against a blue-gray October sky the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as famine, pestilence, destruction and death. These are only aliases. Their real names are: Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden. They formed the crest of the South Bend cyclone before which another fighting Army team was swept over the precipice at the Polo Grounds this afternoon as 55,000 spectators peered down upon the bewildering panorama spread out upon the green plain below.

There’s also this famous piece:

When the One Great Scorer comes to write against your name
He marks- not that you won or lost – but how you played the game

And of Bobby Jones, Rice wrote: “One might as well attempt to describe the smoothness of the wind as to paint a clear picture of his complete swing.”

Rice also was a fair hand with poetry, and so I thought his piece “The Answer” might be appropriate as game day inspiration for the Ryder Cup Teams:

The Answer
By Grantland Rice

When the battle breaks against you and the crowd forgets to cheer,
When the Anvil Chorus echoes with the essence of a jeer;
When the knockers start their panning in the knocker’s nimble way,
With a rap for all your errors and a josh upon your play.
There is one quick answer ready that will nail them on the wing;
There is one reply forthcoming that will wipe away the sting;
There is one elastic come-back that will hold them, as it should,
Make good.

No matter where you finish in the mix-up or the row,
There are those among the rabble who will pan you anyhow;
But the entry who is sticking and delivering the stuff,
Can listen to the yapping as he giggles up his cuff;
The loafer has no come-back and the quitter no reply,
When the Anvil Chorus echoes, as it will, against the sky;
But there’s one quick answer ready that will wrap them in a hood,
Make good.

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