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What The World Looked Like The First Time Penn State Played In The Rose Bowl

We can easily imagine what the world looked like the last time Penn State made an appearance in the Rose Bowl — it was only 2017. But if we go back to the first time the team played there, that’s a different story.

The Nittany Lions’ first appearance in the Rose Bowl came in January 1923, 100 years before their most-recent appearance, which is slated for January 2, 2023. Let’s take a trip back in time to see how Penn Staters were living in 1923.

The Spanish Flu Had Just Ended

Well, it doesn’t seem like too much has changed. At the beginning of 1923, people across the United States were just a few years out of the worldwide influenza pandemic that killed millions. It didn’t stop them from having a good time, though, as the Roaring Twenties kicked off with a bang.

Greatness Is Born

Some of the most iconic names of the 20th century were just babies at the beginning of 1923. Betty White wasn’t even a year old. Stan Lee, creator of the Marvel comics, and Charles Schulz, creator of the Peanuts comic strip, were born just days before Penn State stepped into Rose Bowl Stadium.

The United States Was In Its Prohibition Era

With the sale of alcohol being outlawed in 1920, Americans had been without some of their favorite beverages for about three years. Unless you had some money and connections, you had to suffer through the ups and downs of Penn State football stone-cold sober, baby.

Penn State Just Established The Graduate School

Under the direction of John Thomas, the university’s president at the time, Penn State created the Graduate School, which allowed students to earn advanced degrees in large numbers. Though he was only at the college for a few years, Thomas advocated for increased appropriations from the state government.

When his demands weren’t met by the governor, he left and became the president of Rutgers University.

BBC Began Daily Radio Broadcasting

Most people now know the BBC as Britain’s most prominent news source. Like many organizations, the BBC had started out in radio broadcasting before moving to television. The BBC first went on the air in November of 1922, launching what is today a name known around the globe.

Final Exams Lasted Three To Four Hours

In a newspaper clipping from the end of 1922, an article stated that Penn State administration had just eliminated three-hour and four-hour exams. Leadership had replaced them with exams that were two hours long in order to fit more exams in one day. Rather than being excited or relieved, students were concerned they would be asked to do the same amount of work in a two-hour exam.

This generation’s long finals may suck, but at least they’re not four hours long, right?

Women’s Liberation Movement Was Taking The United States By Storm

After being granted the right to vote just three years earlier in 1920, women were gaining new freedoms left and right. Increasing numbers of ladies were entering the workforce as well as receiving higher education degrees. Social lives were only expanding, too, bringing more consumer activity to the economy.

The Nittany Lion Mascot Arrived On Campus

The Nittany Lion mascot that we know today has gone through a lot of changes over the years. According to historical collections, the Nittany Lion started attending athletic events in 1922. The costume was in the style of an African lion (including a mane!). The student who wore it was required to walk on all fours.

Thankfully, the only time we see the Nittany Lion on all fours today is when he’s doing one-armed push-ups.

Sean Clifford Was Still Penn State’s Quarterback

We’re just kidding, folks.

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About the Author

Haylee Yocum

Haylee is a junior studying immunology and infectious disease. She is from Mifflintown, PA, a tiny town south of State College. She is a coffee addict, loves Taylor Swift, and can't wait to go to a concert again. Any questions can be directed to @hayleeq8 on Twitter or emailed to [email protected]

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