There is no reason “in the world,” Mark Elisco said, that the National Football League should have survived its first two decades, the 1920s and the 1930s.
Founded in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, what would be renamed two years later as the NFL had difficulty against the “vastly more popular” college football, which drew up to 80,000 fans per game to the professional league’s 4,000, Elisco said.
“Owners were losing money,” Elisco said.
Elisco in October will instruct a noncredit Butler County Community College course at BC3 @ Lawrence Crossing, New Castle, that will examine how the league’s early founders persevered to turn a failing product into what in 2020 generated $12 billion in revenue.
History of the National Football League is one of nearly 30 noncredit courses to be offered by BC3’s Lifelong Learning division in October and November at BC3 @ Lawrence Crossing or BC3 @ LindenPointe in Hermitage.
The six-hour course, History of the National Football League, will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 4, 6 and 11 at BC3 @ Lawrence Crossing, 2849 W. State St. The cost is $39.
Elisco worked for 34 years as a teacher, assistant principal and principal in the New Castle Area School District. He developed an interest in the history and marketing of professional sports through graduate courses at Youngstown State University.
“I started my own personal research on the history of the NFL,” said Elisco of New Castle. “It’s a fascinating story of how resilient some of those owners were, because almost all were gamblers.”
Or bookmakers. Or boxing promoters. Or horsemen.
“Most never held a real job in their lives,” Elisco said. “The fact that these men were used to taking risks assisted in their belief of success despite rarely making a profit, low attendance, horrible playing surfaces, meager talent and substandard equipment.”
History of the National Football League, Elisco said, is an examination of resilience despite long odds, a refusal to accept that a product could not work and how a strong belief in an idea can succeed if one never quits on a dream.
Courses such as Elisco’s “provide a variety of experiences for adults,” said Paul Lucas, director of BC3’s Lifelong Learning. “They are also a great way to support the community. They provide an opportunity for socializing while learning and the courses are at a great price.”
BC3’s Lifelong Learning in October and November in Lawrence and Mercer counties will offer noncredit courses in the areas of computers and technology, culinary arts, dance, fine arts and crafts, history, literature and writing, and personal development.
BC3 is temporarily requiring face coverings to be worn indoors at all BC3 locations. Face coverings must be worn by all students, faculty, staff and visitors in shared spaces inside college facilities, including classrooms and communal spaces, regardless of vaccination status. Individuals with a medical exemption must provide proper documentation from a medical professional.
For more information about BC3’s fall 2021 Lifelong Learning courses, visit bc3.edu/lifelong or call (724) 284-8504.