The Kansas Farm Boys that won the 1936 Olympic Basketball Gold Medal.
January and February can be dark months. Accordingly I try to catch up on my reading.
I knocked out a few out. Some of the better books were~
Bitter Brew by William Knoedelseder- “The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America’s Kings of Beer” The title says it all.
Bad Blood by John Carreyrou~ “Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup” This the story about how Elizabeth Holmes, a 25 year old Stanford dropout, in 2014 founded and in less than 4 years built a blood testing company valued at over $9 Billion and backed by Safeway Grocery and Walgreens drug stores-on completely fraudulent technology.
Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell “What We Should Know about the People we do not Know” This is an interesting book that surprisingly devotes two full chapters to the Kansas City. Missouri Police Department’s nationally recognized innovations to isolate and preempt violent crime.
Here’s the Deal by John McCoy. John summaries how his family took a small Columbus, Ohio bank and built it into a national banking power under the banner of BancOne-only to make one too many fatal mergers and be swallowed up by JP Morgan Chase bank.
My favorite book, however, without question came out in November and is entitled:
Games of Deception by Andrew Maraniss “The True Story of First U.S. Olympic Basketball Team at the 1936 Olympics in Hitler's Germany
1936 was the first year Basketball was introduced to the Olympics. At that time the Olympic basketball team was composed of players and coaches from the nation’s top two amateur basketball teams. Today, we would think this would be the top two collegiate teams. However, back then corporations sponsored their own amateur teams, along with YMCAs communities and, yes colleges.
A nationwide amateur tournament was held in New York Madison Square Garden. The two top teams consisted of the Universal Movie Studio amateur team of Los Angeles and the Globe Refinery amateur team of believe it or not-- McPherson, Kansas. I know, who would have thought McPherson, Kansas would have the nation’s top AAU basketball team?
The McPherson team was unusual in that it developed what would be called the “Run and Gun” style of basketball as well as the swarm and press style of defense.
The phrase “Dunking the Basketball” originated in 1936 when a New York sports writer described the fact the McPherson boys were so tall they actually “shot the ball downward into the goal-- in the same fashion someone might dunk their donut into their morning coffee.”
Of the 1936 USA Olympic Gold Medal Basketball team, one player was from Hartford, Kansas (The original home of the Bank of Prairie Village). Another player, was from Gypsum, Kansas, -- tiny community about 5 miles from Salina, Kansas.
This is hard to believe but of the 1936 USA Olympic Gold Medal winning team, two of the members played for Wichita State, one for Southwestern College of Winfield, Kansas, one for Kansas Wesleyan of Salina, Kansas and one for Creighton of Omaha.
Thinking of today and the various USA Olympic BBall dreams teams, it is hard to imagine that many of the 1936 USA Olympic team player had to raise the funds to travel to play by holding car washes, bake sales and selling raffle tickets.
The author, Andrew Maraniss, writes Games of Deception as more than a sports book, but also uses the story to analyze both the Nazi’s desires to propagandize the ’36 games based on the Aryan Race supremacy, as well as the various social prejudices in the United States that limited African American and Jewish basketball players from fully competing to earn spots on the USA Olympic BBall team.
Most remember the ’36 games as being the one where track star Jesse Owens made Hitler look like a fool.
For those into rowing the ’36 Olympic was the setting for the book “Boys in the Boat” (where the University of Washington rowing team upset the Nazis and won gold) and “Unbroken” where Louis Zamperini ran in the 5,000 meters prior to being a Japanese POW.
For me, the ’36 games are where KU runner Glen Cunningham, from Elkhart, Kansas overcame burned legs as a child to place 2nd in the 1,500 meters race. We keep Glen Cunningham’s autobiography Never Quit” on our bookshelf here at the bank.
With all the glitz and glitter of an Olympic Year, I love the history of young athletes from tiny Kansas communities like Gypsum, Hartford, and Elkhart-- with populations of less than 500 souls—including dogs and cats—training and persevering to compete on the world’s greatest athletic stage.
As all small business owners know, it is not where you come from or how you start—but your vision of what you want to become that ultimately determines entrepreneurial and athletic success.
As we anxiously await the warm breezes of March and April, let’s envision a terrific Spring and coming Olympic Summer. Our Best~
~Thank you for giving us this opportunity to be your bank and bankers~
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