Nov 13, 2015
The Arizona Wildcats and the Arizona State Sun Devils sports rivalry can be traced back to the first Territorial Cup football game which was played on Thanksgiving Day, 1899.
Arizona Normal School in Tempe (now ASU) defeated the Arizona Wildcats 11-2. The Territorial Cup continues on as a tradition to this day and the annual football game brings intense competition and heated emotions for football fans living in the state of Arizona. Prior to the 1950’s if you couldn’t attend the big game in person, radio was the only other way to share in the excitement. That changed with the emergence of television, which would soon become a ubiquitous household feature.
While surveying items for the University of Arizona athletics collection, I stumbled upon the correspondence of Robert Crowell, Chairman of the Athletic Committee at UA, negotiating with local TV stations to televise the 1956 UA vs. ASU football game statewide. Though not the very first game to be broadcast (the 1953 ASU vs. UA game was broadcast coast-to-coast) these documents highlight the early history of television as a medium for sports. KOOL-TV Phoenix and KOPO-TV Tucson won the bid to broadcast the 1956 Territorial Cup game live on November 17, 1956 for a total of $2,600. KOPO-TV and KOOL-TV worked harmoniously to combine the television facilities of both stations to broadcast the game statewide with great success. Although Arizona State emerged as the victor of this game with a final score of 20-0, residents in Tucson and across the state of Arizona had another reason to cheer – they could now watch their favorite team compete from the comfort of their own home!
Be sure to visit Special Collections for more information on the history of athletics, including old football programs and ticket. Also explore two newly available sports-related collections, The Mary Roby Papers, 1927-2012 (MS 553) and the University of Arizona Women’s Athletics and Physical Education Papers, 1917-1981 (MS 555).