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They have to sacrifice their own glory, their own showy play for the sake of the combination play of the team. They have to obliterate themselves for the general good. They also have to sacrifice other things. The players in the big college games go thru a period of training which is, in most cases, excessive and often unnecessary. This training means a sacrifice of both social and physical pleasures. The players cannot go to the theater, or to dinners, or to dances. They cannot do a thousand things they want to do. They have to give them up for the game and the college they represent.
All games, notably football, inculcate physical courage. The effect of football, however, in developing this is indeed very much over-rated, at least by the boys themselves. Physical courage, next to dirt, is the commonest commodity there is in the world. The ability to stand pain, the ability to take a grueling punishment in a hard game, is all very well, but it does not represent a very high standard. Tho one hears . in college athletics more or less about “ quitting," I have seen a good deal of college athletics in the last seven or eight years, and I cannot remember more than two men who really“ quit.” Quitting means ordinarily to the students a lack of physical courage, altho it is really a lack of something more. You hear coaches and the players talking as if it were not rare, but in fact it is a most extraordinarily uncommon thing. Football itself encourages mere brute courage to a greater extent than any other game, because in football the spirit which makes a player“ stay” with his man will often offset superior playing ability of an opponent to a greater degree than is true in any other game of skill.
Football, as well as the other games, also develops another and higher and more desirable form of courage—the courage which makes a man do under pressure against odds. This having to do under pressure, this development of tenacity and self-control is the most valuable thing which comes from athletics, and, in my experience, the men who have had this quality developed in their youth in intercollegiate athletics have gained an asset from which they obtain valuable returns all the rest of their lives, no matter what their business or profession. In my opinion, football develops this courage to no higher, if to as high, a degree as the other games.
Another good thing that football and all the sports should do is to teach the leaders, the captains, or managers, how to do administrative work, how to lead other men, both very valuable things. Unfortunately, under the present conditions, football largely fails to do this.
Football also enables a lot of young fellows to work off excessive vitality in a sport which replaces the physical labor of earlier days, instead of allowing them to loaf around and work off their vitality in other and less desirable ways.
That is the bright side of the shield. What are the evils? They are numerous. They are most marked in football for the reason that the game has been developed in such a way as to make it possible to a great degree for only a certain physical type of man to play it. The youngster, big, heavy, strong, and fast—at any rate big, heavy, and strong—is sought for the teams. Men of that sort are relatively rare between eighteen and twenty years, and, the demand being very great, the supply is much less than the demand, consequently the wish to get these desirable men is very strong, and the temptation put in the way of such men is much greater than in any other sort of athletics.
One of the evils of the game is the excessive number of injuries. Football causes a very distorted point of view in regard to the injuries. I have heard this remark: “If I could win the Yale game, I would be perfectly willing to break a leg.” That is a bad point of view. The first thing to pray for in this world is good health and a sound body, and the idea that sacrifice of health or body is worth while for success in any sport seems to me a mistaken one. Up to the present time the percentage of injuries has been very high, much too high for any sport. I think, however, that the physical injuries that occur in football are the very least of the evils of the game, and that the physical injuries alone are not a sufficient reason for abolishing the game.
Other evils are far greater, and perhaps the greatest is the desire in the game to "win at any cost." It is the modern
American idea that one must get there"-success is the thing that is appreciated most. This overwhelming desire is due in part to the publicity which is given to all sports and to football especially, so that success is imperative in the minds of the boys who are playing. The degree to which success is considered imperative is best shown in the training quarters of a “ licked ” team, where the spectacle is pathetic to see, how much more to feel! So, with this feeling of the necessity of winning at any cost in a game in which young fellows are brought in violent contact, and in which there is a certain amount of pain, even if no serious injuries, the players lose their tempers and do all sorts of things which, without this feeling of necessity of winning, they never would do under any circumstances. The desire is also encouraged by the reputation which is given to boys who succeed in athletics. They are, in most cases, held far above the level of the "mere scholar," not only by the public, but by the graduates and undergraduates, and often by the parents themselves. That is an unfortunate public sentiment and public spirit. We all can help to correct these erroneous ideas, but it is going to be a good many years before we get a sufficiently healthy public sentiment to depend upon that alone for the corrections of the evils of this game.
Another great evil is the solicitation of men. I want to add to what has been said by the previous speakers on this subject my testimony to the effect that, altho the degree and methods pursued vary, it is done everywhere. We hope we do less than anybody else, but it is done everywhere, in some cases by the direct paying of money, in other cases by promises of social position in college, in still other cases by opportunities for work which are paid for out of all proportion to the service rendered, and there are still other methods. Solicitation frequently is done in a very open and flagrant manner. Solicitation brings with it, however, its own punishment. It is, in my opinion, poor policy. A boy who has had that sort of attention showered upon him is as a rule a very undesirable factor in athletics, because he comes with a "swelled head” and with the idea that he cannot be dispensed with. That promptly
makes trouble in the team. As a result of solicitation, too, many of our games have come to be no longer the games
of boys who are our sons or the sons of our friends, but they are the games of mercenaries, and, naturally, the institution that goes deepest into its pockets can get the best and most numerous mercenaries. The evil has extended from the college to the fitting school.
Another great evil is the coaching system, and that system practically has been a growth of relatively recent years and is due to the wish to turn out superlatively good teams. The coaching may be done by graduates or professionals. If it is done by graduates, it is done by men who should be in better business, experto crede. These men have to sacrifice time or money to give their services to the boys. Not only, however, may the graduate sacrifice things of greater value than the game, but he oftentimes is an extremely undesirable factor in the sport. In my opinion, the most undesirable factors of intercollegiate athletics have been some of the graduate coaches, who, when they are bad, are very, very bad, because the boys believe in them and put more confidence in what they say than they would in any professional, and so the influence is correspondingly greater for evil. Or the coaching may be done by a professional whose“ business ” it is to win, and he must win; if not, he will be replaced by a man who can. The influence of some professional coaches has, however, been good, at times better than that of some graduate coaches.
The point of all the coaching is this: The sports are boys' games, carried on as an incidental in a general education, and they ought to remain boys' games. It is true that the professional may turn out a better team, or the graduate coach may turn out a better trained team, but the charm of all amateur sports depends upon the spirit in which they are played, and not upon the perfection of playing. Moreover, the value of the games to the boys is not merely from the physical exercise, but from having to do, having to accomplish a given task. The result of all this coaching has been—and I see it more and more markedly every year—to make the boys “sit back ” on the older men; to do their work of an afternoon, but to leave all the brain work to the coach, whom they hold responsible for the development of the game. I think the boys should have not only the physical, but the mental training as well, and I think they are losing the mental training more and more as the years go by.
Moreover, under the present feeling of the necessity of winning, there is an enormous distraction from the college work. The aggregate amount of time that the football men were out of college duties last fall was something appalling. That was from mere injuries alone. And the distraction among the non-players who go down to cheer on and witness the games is also very great. Any teacher can bear testimony to that effect.
My own idea is that the boy who is going to take part in athletics should be held to a more rigid standard of scholarship than the other boys. He should show not only his ability as an athlete, but he should show ability to do first-class college work first, and then enter into athletics as an incidental.
Taking into consideration the evils just mentioned, which are the serious ones, what is to be done about it? The first thing is to create a sensible public sentiment. We all can help to that end. Everybody who controls boys in schools or colleges can help. But public sentiment alone will not at present be enough to save a game which is under the ban, altho it may have advantages which outweigh its disadvantages. Certain things in the way of control must be done. How can they be done?
In the first place, modify the playing rules of football. That is simple and easily done, and can be done in a definite and satisfactory way. The game should be modified in such a way as to lessen the injuries, make dirty work unprofitable if it occurs, and, so far as may be, impossible. You cannot make it entirely impossible for dirty work to occur so long as human nature remains as it is, but I think that, by the making of rules which are to be enforced, the game can be made a fit one to play, if the men who make the rules undertake to make the changes in good faith. Sometimes the rule-makers have done as little as possible, but it is now apparent to every one