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Catalog Number 2014.37.6
Object Name Video
Title Bruce Kidd Interview
Scope & Content Bruce Kidd:

Video One: Tom Longboat
0:26Tried to change Longboat's depiction in pop culture; "I like to think I rehabilitated Longboat's image"; research has provided a new perspective on his story
0:48in the 1950s & 1960s Longboat was seen as being an athlete who squandered his natural ability through an abusive lifestyle and an indifference to training and good advice from his coaches and managers
2:51There were writers sympathetic to Longboat who gave different details, creating a fuller portrait and a different story from the other negative accounts; he also spoke to an elder who had known Longboat personally; "The story of a man who struggled against the intense racism of the that period to control his own life; to control his own approach to training and competition and to hold his head high as an aboriginal person at a time when everyone was telling him to convert and be a white- or to be a "Christianized" member of a First Nation… and he was eventually successful in that he always stood tall, he always ran proudly, and he succeeded." (4:10); Kidd could not understand how someone who was portrayed in that manner could ultimately buy out his contract, train himself and win races in record times; found it to be a story of incredible courage and persistence and drive
6:00 Tracked down and proved false many rumors. He talked to Longboat's children and Tom Junior said that the City of Toronto, in a public ceremony, had promised Longboat $500.00 if he won the Boston Marathon; Longboat never received this money.
7:20The explanation for the non-payment was that people wanted Longboat to maintain his amateur status. Kidd talked to the mayor of Toronto and convinced him to pay Longboat's children $10,000.00 in recompense for the $500.00 that was never paid (8:01)
8:24 "I feel very proud of the fact that in a small way, I helped to rehabilitate the public image of this remarkable man."
9:20 Talking about racism and challenges for Longboat as an athlete and a First Nations man: "This was the time of residential schools; this was a time when under the Indian Act aboriginal people were automatically assumed to be drunk if found in a tavern or other drinking establishment… there was an open policy of assimilation. Longboat was a contradiction in Euro-Canadian society. When he won, and went to the U.S. and won big, he was someone they wanted to take pride in but his identity was complicated by the fact that he was a proud member of Six Nations."
11:00 Longboat was charged with drunkenness simply by being in taverns, which he had to do in order to promote his races, due to racist laws.
12:00 Had to content with Euro-Canadian coaching and management from people who thought they knew best how runners should train, contradiction with Longboat's cultural understanding of running; the history of running goes back 2-300 years with remarkable accomplishments; he had a knowledge of how to train and what to eat
13:20 One of Longboat's inspirations was Bill Davis who had medaled in the Boston Marathon.
13:35"He came out of an athletic tradition that was at odds to the Euro-Canadian, Toronto based tradition of distance running."; instead of doing sprints and weights he would go out on a 20-mile jog; he knew the need to develop strength and endurance over distance which is what marathoners do today
14:50 "Here's a guy who has a much better sense of how to train for a marathon than his coaches- and he will always be criticized for that in the white press."
15:20 Bought his own contract and raced under his own management, racing faster than ever before; his managers would put him in races when he was injured
15:42"He had a superb sense of himself and his culture and his traditions; and he tried… he was persistent in trying to be true to those. There were ups and downs, but in the end, he was successful in being his own person in keeping with his own traditions ."
16:17"He was proud- in a good way, persistent, courageous, and a remarkable athlete- he could win races from the front, and he could win races from behind, he could win a tactical race… he was a remarkable athlete."
17:35Recurring phrases such as "failed athlete" in articles led Kidd to deconstruct stories- very few people who wrote about Longboat, it seems, had done their own research.
18:00An article written in 1926 by Cronin expressed this rags to riches to rags story which inspired almost all other less-than-ideal portraits of Longboat. The man who wrote it was friends with Lou Marsh, who had been embarrassed by Longboat when they were running against each other and personally disliked him.
19:30Flanagan (his manager) was Longboat's most problematic trainer. "Was Flanagan the man who doped Longboat in London? Circumstantial evidence suggests that he had the best opportunity… he was a manager but he was not averse to betting against his own athletes. So at the very least, you could say Cronen, who wrote this very bitter attack against Longboat- that was subsequently repeated and rewritten and repeated and rewritten had a very complicated vested interest in the people who were on the other side of Longboat's career." (20:20); Kidd was able to bring a different perspective to that narrative
20:30 Greg asks if at any point did Longboat realize that his manager did not have Longboat's best interests at heart
21:30 Longboat realizes that Flanagan is not his friend when he sells his contract without telling him.
23:00 "He was persistent, putting away money from his purses and in the end he was able to be his own athlete."; as his own manager he was able to train and enter those races he wanted to; for the rest of his life he was true to himself
24:00 Longboat's job with the Toronto Works Department doing garbage, raking leaves, etc. became an issue further complicating his reputation, as it led many to believe he 'never amounted to much'. He did not have an advanced education. However, "He was delighted to be working outside; well respected by his co-workers and the public, who's very proud of who he is, who is leading a middle class life- this is in the depression; he has a car, he drives his family back to the reserve on the weekends. He lives in a middle class neighborhood; he sends his kids to respected schools in Toronto- this is not a guy who's a bum! This is a guy who's living a good life, by his own standards." (25:35); his fans continued to admire him
26:50Longboat enlisted to serve in WWI, he was a popular serviceman in the armed forces; he was sought by regiments because of his reputation and he was respected; he was a runner behind the lines in trench warfare
27:50 "Brought great honor to Canada, at a very, very difficult time; but a time of Canadian nation-building."; he just took it in stride
29:40Talking about challenges to youth today: "I can't image the pressure athletes of your generation are under from their parents, their coaches, their officials to compete in a particular way", for example they are trained to give responses in a certain way at interviews
30:55"Longboat, because he was an Aboriginal man, lived under very similar pressure [to youth today]"; he did not have independence other competitors had because Euro-Canadian society infantilized him and felt he had to be minded all the time
31:45 Longboat realized that he would not be able to argue against those who were damaging his reputation, so he instead allowed his running to do the talking; "I'm not able to win those arguments but I'll show you what I believe through my running."; he was shrewd enough to manage his own career and be his own person, it is a moving, inspirational story
35:25Intro to Longboat trophy
35:46"In the early '50s, just after Longboat had died of pneumonia in '49, another remarkable Canadian sports leader, Jan (Ian) Eisenhart… was working with the Department of Northern and Indian Affairs and was on contract to improve opportunities for children and youth in First Nations to engage in sport and physical activity and thought it would be a terrific idea if the rich aboriginal tradition of sport and physical activity were memorialized in some way and came up with the idea of creating a trophy named after Tom Longboat to award to the best aboriginal athlete in Canada. (37:00)
37:42The trophy gives us the history of aboriginal athletic accomplishment over the last 60 years
38:04"Trophies of this kind give a boost to careers, or give an inspiration to already remarkable people, encourage them to do more. I think the Tom Longboat trophy has played that kind of role."
38:31 The people who have won the Longboat trophy make a 'remarkable list' including people like Alwyn Morris, Rick Brandt, Willy Littlechild, and many more.
39:16 "The trophy itself is a mini encyclopedia if you read beyond those plaques in the history of struggle and achievement of the aboriginal people in Canada. It's a remarkable artefact… it's a remarkable token of a rich history."

Bruce Kidd Video 2: Ned Hanlan
00:40Hanlan developed and refined modern rowing technique with the use of the sliding seat
1:08 the riddle is why was this little guy (165 pounds) so successful against men who were so much bigger; Hanlan was able to be much more biomechanically effective in order to utilize his smaller frame to overcome opponents much stronger than him by using his entire body, rather than just his arms, for leverage in order to increase power. Others had been trying to do this by greasing the seats of the boat to slide, but Hanlan was the first to use an actual sliding seat; his particular genius was to use the seat to leverage his legs and trunk
2:52Hanlan was able to create much more thrust across the water than other rowers. He was then able to quickly overtake his opponents.
3:33"You can only do that if you've got a much more explosive stroke, and the only way to do that was using the sliding seat with its full extension and really pulling every muscle from the toes right through to the chest which had only imperfectly been drawn upon in the past."
4:06Hanlan was only defeated when someone who was much stronger than him then utilized the same technique against him.
5:30 "He was extraordinarily shrewd, opportunistic about technology all his life, and it does not surprise me that when he had this group of backers that he said, 'You know, I'm a little guy, and the best guys in the world are these giants, if I'm going to beat them I need a good boat with good technology'."; the sliding seat and swivel oar lock gave him a longer reach

Bruce Kidd Video Three: Ned Hanlan
1:48"Why he was so popular was that he was the first transcendent pan-Canadian champion, who excelled in the United States and overseas"; he was not gracious in victory as well as defeat, he was often condescending to those he beat; he was a showman and often his values were not of fair play
2:08"When the Americans celebrated their centennial in 1876, the most successful athlete in the major regattas was a Canadian." And this was in the context of the American/Canadian relations and the annexation issue, the history of English Canadian values and Loyalist tendencies and the concerns of the Monroe Doctrine
3:09Hanlan was "Somebody who was a symbolic champion of the strength, the skill, the competitiveness, the shrewdness, the showmanship of Canada, was very much appreciated and that's why people cheered for him." Rowing was one of the most popular sport of the time because people could relate to it
3:50 "Hanlan was more than an athlete, he was a symbol of this young country, of its' strength, of its' daring, and for those who were very much in an anxious period of nation building, he gave them great hope, and a sense of triumph." (4:18) he gave people pride when he beat the Americans a lot

Bruce Kidd Video Four: CSHOF Selection Committee; Kidd's story
1:10The process for selection remains much the same, although it has now become much more official, and more representative of sport through the regions of Canada; representativeness has greatly increased.
3:07The best selections are made when you proactively solicit nominations to get the very best candidates to be nominated.
3:34 Some of the rules have been clarified; no longer inducting animals on their own, except at the request of the human athlete they competed with. There are no more non-human objects, and no more sport journalists inducted simply for their sports journalism, but rather only if their leadership outside of their journalism merits induction as a builder.
6:40Will not consider athletes for induction into the hall until at least four years after their retirement, because it ensures they will not return to sport and also increases the athlete's understanding of the true honor of induction.
8:10The members of the selection committee has been broadened to include athletes and others involved in sport.
9:15The gap after competition allows recognition of the true honour of inclusion.
12:47"We've asked ourselves in the case of every recommended nomination… we've asked ourselves, would this athlete bring honor to Canada and the Hall? Would this proposed builder bring honor to Canada and the Hall? Do they exemplify the values that we see as important to Canada and Canadian sport, and have they made a significant contribution to their sport and to Canadian society as a whole?"
14:13"We want the honored members of the Hall to represent the values of the Hall and the values of Canada."
15:17"I like to say that unless you understand Canadian sport, you can't understand Canada. Unless you understand the history of sport, you cannot understand the history of Canada." The history of Canada and the history of Canadian sport are intertwined.
16:01"I think that we live fuller lives and are more successful- the extent to which we measure ourselves in the context of our times, our families, our communities, and our societies as a whole [because of sport]."
16:31"The athletes and builders in the Hall acquired a skill, a knowledge, a tactical strength in sport at a given time in Canadian history and they excelled, they broke through barriers, whether they be performance barriers, or cultural barriers […] or technological barriers […] and they- their lives exemplify the power of human ambition, achievement, and so on, and they do that in the context of Canadian society as a whole."
17:45 Sport has such popularity and power because it represents the very best human example of what Canadians can do, pushing people to achieve even more.
19:41Kidd grew up in an area of Toronto which was very involved in sports, and had many mentors and people who inspired him. As a child, he met Ab Box, Sid Smith, Ted Reeve, and others.
20:33As a child, the culture of sport he grew up in was locally or nationally focused, rather than international.
21:20When he began to train with Fred Foote at the University of Toronto, he was opened up to international sport due to the nature of track and field being international; his coaches and team mates had been to the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics and had a more world wide view
23:04"Sport taught me a good deal of what I know about history and geography."
26:08"The concern I will express is this: I learned about the world through sport. And I learned about the world through sport at a time when an important part of the amateur Olympic ideal was engaging with the world and its' differences, where you went to meets but then you learned about the history, the geography, the cuisine, the culture, the politics, of that part of the world. And I can tell you incredible stories about how I engaged with that because of sport. The ideal was that sport gave you that opportunity, and that sport was about performance, but it was also about intellectual exploration and exchange. And that was one of the best things that sport brought. And today, I see the meaning of international sport so narrowed to the podium that very, very, very few athletes are allowed, let alone encouraged, to explore that difference. They're encouraged to go to another place, stay in the village, lie in their beds and visualize their race, not leave the village […] because of my god they serve food that's different than ours; and not to talk to anybody because you might talk about difficult issues"; he sees it as a threat to young athletes
29:20It is ironic that we are discouraging athletes from exploring international difference during a time when the world is more interconnected than ever before.
30:33Kidd grew up in a progressive family with parents who were strong advocates for inclusion. They were "strong believers in the ability of anybody to do well." They took in boarders from the University who were persons of color, and Kidd saw his parents stand up against racism.
32:44Kidd competed in the '62 Commonwealth Games, in which apartheid South Africa was excluded, and in the '64 Olympics, in which South Africa was again excluded. He studied political science and gravitated to other athletes discussing such issues.
34:30Kidd noticed how media would attack non-white or female athletes (such as Harry Jerome and Abby Hoffman) for the same kinds of infractions that Kidd was allowed to get away with; the double standard bothered him.
34:50"There were a number of episodes where I could see very different treatment meted out to Harry [a black athlete] in particular, and that radicalized me."
35:50 Kidd had positive role models at University who encouraged his activism; was in an environment that debated issues
36:35"Awkwardly at first, but gradually I started speaking out."
38:09National Student Union wanted to join FESU (World University Games), an international sports organization, because it had members from both the Eastern and Western blocs, during the Cold War.
39:40Kidd organized Canada's First World Student Games team; learned sports administration the hard way; he was pushed into a position of advocacy
41:55"But it came out of knowing Abby and seeing, you know, she's as good as the rest of us; there are no dressing rooms for her, in the middle of the winter she's training outside- all of the men are training inside- doesn't take too long to be radicalized by all that."
42:54Advice for kids today: "Be true to yourself, be true to your friends and family- which doesn't mean that you always have to go along with them, but be honest with them, try to make it better than it was for you. You know, give something back… and get to know Canada! It's an extraordinary country."
44:36"Whether you do that through sport, music, or politics, or through engineering or through the environmental movement, I think that's a really important thing every young Canadian would put on his or her to do list- find out about this extraordinary country."
Subjects 1962 Commonwealth Games
1964 Tokyo Olympics
World Student Games
Boston Marathon
University of Toronto
Search Terms 1962 Commonwealth Games
1964 Tokyo Olympics
World Student Games
Boston Marathon
Longboat Trophy
Sliding Seat
University of Toronto