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himself placed. The coach realizes that he is expected to win. “It is not sufficient," as a well-known writer has said, “that the team shall play well—it must win.”
“On looking about,” says another writer, “a coach finds himself compelled to do what his fellow-coaches do, or be left behind. He finds that he hasn't at hand the material of which to make a winning team, and so in a short while he is out
looking for players.' Then he teaches them how to play.” The natural in athletics has given way to the abnormal. The good old idea that each college shall take the material that comes to it freely and of its own accord and make the best possible representative team out of it, even if it be a loser, has been displaced by the more modern and very undesirable plan of insuring a weakened team against its losses by filling the breaches with outside recruits. It is no longer a question of what kind of a team have we, but what kind of a team are we going to get. A prominent trainer has expressed this point of view very clearly in the following doctrine: “If you haven't the men, why, damn it, get them.” Another theory of the same man is this: “ that it makes little difference how you win, since in five or six years only the score will be remembered.”
And so we have proselyting of all kinds and degrees—proselyting by the colleges, among the larger schools; and proselyting by the larger schools among the smaller ones. It is only a question of time before the smaller schools will be at work among the kindergartens, and the kindergartens among our cradles. Just as far as this practice can go,
this practice can go, it will go, unless it is stopped before the limit is reached.
The most serious proselyting is as a rule done by the smaller colleges which are trying to compete with colleges which are naturally out of their class—the type of college that is not big enough to remain small. To compete successfully with its larger rival, it is necessary for the small college to make up for the discrepancy in attendance—and for a resulting discrepancy in athletic material—by importing as large a percentage as possible of promising men. The larger colleges are, some of them, just as badly off—tho in others the practice is on the wane. To proselyte successfully, “ inducements”
“ inducements ” are necessary, for
the market is an open one. These inducements take various shapes, according to the varied tastes of the individual. The wealthy athlete, who is financially able to go where he pleases, must be guaranteed social recognition, or it must be shown that the college in question is fitted above all others to afford him just the instruction that he most needs. The tradesman's son, who hardly feels able to afford a college education, is shown how easy it will be to work his way thru with an athletic reputation as his main asset; how, as president of an eating club, or as publisher of programs or score-cards, he can not only pay his way easily, but even retire at the end of his course with a snug balance. The poor, tho scholarly, athlete is provided with a scholarship and other assistance, sometimes of a direct pecuniary nature. Nothing that is desired by these athletic prizes that is obtainable is left unprovided. It is even said that at one of our larger colleges employment and accommodations were found for a boy's entire family near the college in question, which was several hundred miles from the accustomed home, in order that the athletic ability of the son might be secured.
And one of the worst things about it all is the way in which parents connive at this underhandedness. Some parents even go so far as to put their children up at auction—the sale being made to the highest college bidder. Such cases as this have often come to my personal attention. The parents in these cases seem to take the point of view that a college or school education is a worthy object to strive for, and that the end justifies the means. Thus it is that many of our boys, as a writer has ably put it, “ make a bad start in life by beginning their higher educational careers by petty deceit.”
Some people distinguish between proper and improper solicitation. Last year I myself thought that there was a distinction, and accordingly advocated the formation of Harvard clubs in the various schools for the sake of encouraging good athletes to come to us. During the past year, however, I have come to feel that there is no safe line of demarkation, and I now stand unqualifiedly against such practices in any form. Legitimate acts shade so gradually and imperceptibly into illegitimate ones that the only safe way is to keep out of such practices altogether.
The coach, then, who “goes after men " usually brings back boys of inferior moral instincts—boys who have sold their birthright for a mess of pottage. Boys who, if they have a jɔb . to do, do it-if a man to do, do him.
The coach must now teach his men, and here is another stumbling block : Shall he teach them fairly or unfairly? It is again a question of morals—conscience vs. profit. Suppose that, under great pressure, our coach chooses the “profit” point of view. He teaches boys who would otherwise be above low practices, but who are at a most susceptible age, for such teaching “ that,” as still another writer expresses it, “ for the sake of alma mater, it is a glorious thing to foul an antagonist, so long as the necessary yard is made.”
As a result, the men are coached to violate the rules or, at any rate, to do all that the rules don't actually forbid, even if the unwritten moral code is clearly against such action. Or, if the coach does not quite dare to teach violations, he may in a sense perjure himself by not putting a stop to practices in which he sees his men indulging of their own initiative. Toleration of this sort is as bad as actual teaching.
From this style of coaching spring the intentional violations of offside, holding, tripping, slugging, filthy talk, coaching from the side lines, and all the other sorts of trickery which have brought the game into such ill-repute. Add to all this . the newspaper notoriety, the crowds, the money, the betting, and the extravagance which has become a part of the football game, and, as President Thwing says, “professionalism, if not of money, at least of method, has come to prevail.”
What we all want is “honesty in athletics; sport and fair play;" a condition of affairs where the man or the team thats plays in accordance with the strict letter and spirit of the rules shall stand a fair show with his competitors; where the captains of our teams will, of their own accord, disqualify players for violations of rules which the officials do not happen to see; and where the mutual feeling of suspicion and distrust which so commonly prevails in many intercollegiate relationships shall give way to a feeling of confidence and esteem. And I believe that, now that the American people have taken hold of this question, the desired change will finally result—at least in large measure.
And what is true of football is likewise true of all our other sports, in each of which according to its prominence has grown up a series of abuses and violations, due not to the game itself, but to the spirit in which it is played. Put any game to the test that football has been put to, and were it planned by the deities themselves, evils would develop. What we most need is a different spirit in sport, and the reforms will take care of themselves.
The abuses are many; how shall they be remedied? There are, of course, two methods—the direct and the indirect. The direct where the evil is punished, the indirect where the evil is prevented. The solution lies in the application of both remedies, but the greatest good will come from the indirect, rather than the direct. If the professional trainer and coach is to be a part of our athletic systems, greater care must be used in his selection and more attention must be paid to the methods that he employs. He must be made to feel that high moral standards and the spirit of fair play are more important than victory, that, in fact, anything must be sacrificed, even the game itself, before unfair practices are either encouraged or tolerated. The players must be taught what fairness means, and the unfair boy must be clearly shown that he has no place in athletic contests between gentlemen. School and college standards in the classroom must be kept high, if the undesirable man is not to creep in. Proselyting should be taken in hand by headmasters and college faculties and driven out of business; the giving of scholarships should be very carefully done and, above all, every effort should be made to remold the ideas of what is now considered legitimate in sport. Athletics and football are too valuable to us to be abolished. The moral effect of having seven or eight hundredi trained athletes scattered all thru a student body, which is the case at Harvard and which is true of all other games proportionately, is too great a factor for good to be lost.
W. T. REID, JR. CAMBRIDGE, MASS.
It requires a certain amount of assurance for a man who never has played football to attempt to discuss all the different sides of the game. Altho football happens to be at present the best advertised of the games, it is in many respects no worse than the others. The evils of football are the evils of all intercollegiate competition at present. The evils in football, for special reasons, have finally gotten to such a pass that educators, parents, the general public, and, to a greater extent than is usually realized, the boys themselves have finally demanded changes in the game. Perhaps the fact that the boys themselves demand a change is the most encouraging and hopeful feature of the situation. As a result of this demand, changes will be made in football which will react upon all other sports.
In regard to intercollegiate athletics as a whole, I am heartily in favor of them. When my boy is old enough to go to college, I hope that he will be clever enough to get on some team and have the drill and training that come from intercollegiate athletics because all the intercollegiate sports do very fine things. for the boys.
In the first place, they inculcate obedience, and the fact that boys get obedience drilled into them in football as they do in none of the other games is the reason I very much hope that the football situation is going to be changed so that the game can be continued. I have been pretty closely connected with the baseball interests here for several years, and the men who come to us from the “eleven” are almost always more obedient, more amenable to discipline, and do their work better than the men from any other sport. There are certain things. about football that get the discipline into the blood. Football, too, compels the players to become self-sacrificing