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Sunday, December 5, 2021

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From left: Barbara Jensen, James Goldsberry (team captain), Edward Millican  and Peter Ruggles From left: Barbara Jensen, James Goldsberry (team captain), Edward Millican and Peter Ruggles
 


Varsity Sport of the Mind

Decades Ago at San Diego State: looking back at the school's role in the academic GE College Bowl in 1964.
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Recently, the University Honors Program was recognized for its excellence as a highly competitive program for SDSU’s most exceptional undergraduates. The program continues a long tradition of national recognition and nationally ranked programs at San Diego State.

This week, Decades Ago looks back at an earlier example of national distinction in this long tradition of merit and excellence.

In 1964, San Diego State received national publicity when it was selected as the first state college in California to send a team to appear on the General Electric College Bowl.

From 1953 to 1970, College Bowl was broadcast nationwide over radio and television on Saturday and Sunday evenings. A game of questions and answers played by two teams of competing students, College Bowl received widespread acclaim as "the varsity sport of the mind."  It aired for 17 seasons on NBC and CBS and was sponsored on TV by the General Electric Company beginning in 1959. Each winning team earned $1,500 in scholarship grants from General Electric and runner-up teams received $500.

On Sept. 24, 1964, the Daily Aztec reported on a semifinal competition to select a team to represent San Diego State College at the GE College Bowl. Questions “primarily in the areas of literature and history” would be asked in “the manner used on the television program.” Fifty-five candidates were expected to participate in the competition to choose eight finalists, “four of whom will appear on the national television show Nov. 15.”

On Oct. 15, the Daily Aztec announced the names of the eight finalists who would continue to receive “intensive training with emphasis on literature, history and the liberal arts.” A preparation strategy of the faculty training committee aimed to simulate the College Bowl program with a studio audience broadcast over the campus TV network.

On Friday, Nov. 13, the College Bowl-bound team left from Lindbergh Field and students were “encouraged to give the team an Aztec send-off.” Local businesses took out ads in the Daily Aztec rooting for the San Diego State team that would face Queens College of New York that Sunday night. During the College Bowl “half-time” intermission, a 60-second portion of the film “The Aztec Story” produced by Associated Students promoting San Diego State was aired. The full version of “The Aztec Story” was recently digitized by Special Collections as part of its audio/video restoration project “Raising Our Voices.”

Unfortunately, the team from San Diego State was not victorious, losing by a final score of 300 to 215. In addition to competing “against a well-drilled, knowledgeable team,” the loss was apparently due to the tradition of Eastern schools placing a “strong emphasis on factual knowledge while Western schools place more emphasis on idea-oriented education.”

University Archives holds several photographs of that time in 1964 when San Diego State received national publicity as the first state college in California to send a team to appear on the General Electric College Bowl.

About Decades Ago at San Diego State

The SDSU Library's Department of Special Collections and University Archives presents the weekly series "Decades Ago at San Diego State." Special Collections and University Archives staff members collect articles and photos from archived issues of The Daily Aztec, providing a glimpse of the university's past and its memorable events, people and programs. 

More Decades Ago at San Diego State

 

 
Varsity Sport of the Mind
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