Sunday, July 19, 2015

Punt, Pass and Kick

I remember participating in at least one Punt, Pass and Kick contest in Seward. In my memory, I was in about sixth grade, so maybe this was in about 1963. The PP&K contests took place at the fairgrounds.

The Wikipedia article about PP&K says that the contests began in 1961, and that sounds about right to me. I remember the contest being a new event in Seward. Here is an advertisement from a 1961 Life magazine:

Punt, Pass and Kick advertisement from 1961 Life magazine. The contest was sponsored by the Ford Motor Company.

This advertisement indicates that in the very first year, the contest was for boys, ages 6 through 10. By the time I participated, the age range was changed to 8 through 13. I myself was older than 10, and there were boys older than me.

Since the print is so small in this image, I retype the main text as follows:
Here's what the Punt, Pass & Kick Contest is: It's a program presented by Ford Dealers in cooperation with the National Football League in the interest of youth and as a contribution to the nation's physical fitness program. Competition is divided into age groups, so your son will compete only against boys of his own age. In each age group, boys will compete in punting, passing and place-kicking. Points are based on accuracy as well as distance. There will be 70 regional winners and 5 national champions.  
Here are the prizes: Prizes include official National Football League uniforms .... official National League warm-up jackets ... official National League footballs ... expense-paid trips to the NFL Championship Game and to the White House for father and son ... and many more. 
Here's how to enter:  It's simple. There is noting to buy. Registration is pen to any grade school boy 6 through 10 when accompanied by father, mother or legal guardian. Simply take your son to any Ford Dealer displaying the official Punt, Pass & Kick emblem shown below. The dealer will do the rest. 
A Punt,Pass & Kick instruction booklet with tips by three great football pros -- Johnny Unitas, Yale Lary and Paul Hornung; an official National Football League guide book packed with interesting facts and figures on the professional teams; and a handsome Punt, Pass & Kick participant badge to be worn on your son's jacket, shirt or sweater.
I don't remember ever seeing the above advertisement, although our family subscribed to Life magazine.

When President John Kennedy took office in 1961, he advocated that American children become more physically fit. That's why all the St. John's pupils had to exercise to the song Chicken Fat several times a week.

I definitely remember that the contest was sponsored by the Ford Motor Company. I don't remember Dad or Mom taking me to the local dealership so that I could register, but that must have happened. My family owned a Ford station wagon,  so we went to the local dealership occasionally for car maintenance. I suppose that my begging caused my Dad to simply to to the dealership and registered me, without taking me along. Obviously, these contests were an advertising gimmick to get parents to visit Ford dealerships.

I don't remember clearly why I wanted to participate in the contest. I remember vaguely that I thought I might have a chance to win one of those NFL warm-up jackets. I'm sure I fantasized about winning an expense-paid trip to the NFL Championship and to the White House.

Since points were awarded for accuracy -- not just for distance -- I thought I might be able to accumulate a lot of accuracy points. As it turned out, however, I was not accurate either, and so I did not come close to winning anything.

The advertisement that I remember looked like this one below, from 1964. I can't find a larger image.

Punt, Pass and Kick advertisement from 1964. The contest was sponsored by the Ford Motor Company.

Below is an advertisement from the sixth annual contest, 1967. In that year the age range was 8 through 13.

Punt, Pass and Kick advertisement from 1967. The contest was sponsored by the Ford Motor Company.

This advertisement has the same drawing of the professional adult and the amateur boy punting. I remember that picture. I cannot read the text well enough to type it, but I think the rules and prizes remained about the same as in 1961.

I do remember my Tips Book looking like the 1965 edition below. I read it studiously at least 20 times.

Punt, Pass and Kick "Tips Book" from 1965. The contest was sponsored by the Ford Motor Company.

I remember vaguely that my participation badge looked something like this:

Punt, Pass and Kick Contestant Badge. The contest was sponsored by the Ford Motor Company

Notice that the biggest word on the badge is FORD.

I remember this book -- this is the 1965 edition. These books perhaps were being sold at the dealership or at the contest. Maybe the St. John's library had a copy.

Cover of book titled "How to Punt, Pass and Kick", written by Richard Pickens and published in 1965

Here is a link to a newspaper article, dated June 25, 1980, reporting that Ford was ending it sponsorship of the PP&K contests.

Punt, Pass, Kick Program Being Dropped by Ford 
AP Sports Writer 
DETROIT (AP) -- Rising costs and declining participation have been cited by Ford Motor Co. for dropping the popular Punt, Pass and Kick youth program it sponsored jointly with its dealer association and the National Football League.  
Ford had, at first, intended to drop PP&K at the end of the coming season, but the continuing downturn in the automobile industry led the carmaker to cancel it immediately, said Pat Snook, vehicle sales promotion manager for Ford Division who was in charge of PP&K. 
The deicsion to end PP&K this year caught both the NFL and the dealers by surprise.  
"I had heard discussions," Joe Rhein, NFC coordinator at the NFL office in New York said Thursday. "I guess they (Ford ) felt it would be in their best interest not to try to go through with it this year." 
Ford dealers were to be notified of the decision to drop PP&K on Monday, but word apparently leaked to a few dealers and one, angered by the cancellation, called the Associated Press. 
"It's a combination of things," Snook said. "We originally were going to drop it at the end of the season, but we have decided to end it now. 
"Obviously, rather heavy and increasing costs were a part of the problem. Quite frankly, the automobile business this hear has caused us to re-evaluate many of our promotional programs." 
Snook said declining interest on the part of youngsters also was a contributing factor in the decision to drop PP&K after 19 years. 
In some years, participation was as high as 1 million youngsters," Snook said. "Last year it was down to between 400,000 and 500,000." 
PP&K was a major undertaking for dealers in some areas. Often civic clubs like the Jaycees were enlisted to help run local competitions in six age categories -- 8 through 13. 
Bob Low, a Ford dealer in St. Clair, a town of about 5,000 people 45 miles northeast of Detroit, said he quit participating two years ago. 
"It wasn't getting the participation, plus it was hard to get the people to help you run it right," Low said. 
After several levels of local, regional and state competition, winners from AFC and NFC in the six age groups met during halftime of the Super Bowl to determine national champions.
"Airline costs, alone, are p nearly 30 percent," Snook noted. 
Ford dealers ha to put up about $300 while the carmaker picked  up the rest of the tab. The NFL provided player appearances, television exposure and time. 
"We picked up most of the cost of running it," said Ford spokesman Larry Weiss, who declined to say how much the program costs. 
The NFL now will explore new avenues. 
"We definitely intend to be involved with youth programs," Rhein said. "We'll probably make an announcement somewhere down the road, but not this year."
Apparently the NFL took over the entire management of the program in the following years. Now girls too participate in the contest.


Sekai Luebke wrote the following comment on my Facebook page.
In 1967 I won that thing and got a trophy. 
Then, I went out to Grand Island and won the next level, too -- and got another trophy. 
The third level was held in Lincoln on a cold day in November and I lost to a kid from Lexington who was pretty good. 
I told my dad, "If it hadn't been so cold, I'd have beat him."

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