YALE COLLEGE, Feb. 18.MY DEAR SIR: For the copy of Regulations for Inter-collegiate Athletic Sports, received February 16, I thank you very much. I thank you still more for the kind note accompanying the regulations. President Porter had not received any copy up to 11 A. M.
The preamble of resolution 1, and the resolution itself I heartily commend. You will see in the March number of the Popular Science Monthly a suggestion in agreement with this resolution.
In refutation of some assertions in the preamble of resolution 2, and of the statement of the first part of the twofold evil mentioned in the preamble of resolution 5, I would instance the success of Yale in base-ball and foot-ball for the past two years. In these two sports they had no professional trainer last year, Harvard assertions to the contrary notwithstanding, and during the previous year none in football, and next to none in baseball.
Before resolution 2 the word "professional" ought to have been defined. Perhaps, however, the gentlemen of the committee agreed among themselves upon the construction of the term. Otherwise I do not see how misunderstandings can be avoided among the colleges which adopt the regulations.
Resolution 3 seems to me to have been designed to kill athletic sports in the smaller colleges. At least it will be effectual to that end. The preamble and the resolution are consequently, in my opinion, at sword's points.
Resolutions 4 will bring to the contests other parties than students, among whom "disagreeable controversies" may arise. The "controversies" to which the preamble refers have led to conferences among the students, which have not been without good results in improved games and manlier characters. Interference on the part of faculties with the progress made in this way, I should regard as unfortunate as well as very unwise.
With resolution 5 I have no fault to find. In the football conventions it has already been agreed that no student shall be on a team for more than five years.
As to resolution 6, I would remark that to most people who have attended inter-collegiate games, the choice of neutral ground would suggest the probability of a game fairer for both parties to the contest.
With regard to resolution 7, I should like to ask if it was not understood in the preliminary conference, which I attended, that boating was to be excepted from the subjects to be considered. I certainly so understood it. Dr. Sargent suggested the exception on the ground that the boating interests of Harvard and Yale were practically under the management of graduates. It seemed to me at the time a strange exception, and one which could not be well defended. But to change the distance to be rowed from four to three miles was needless. The reason for the change will appear to boating men insufficient. The crews which enter a four-mile race are composed of men, who, in the preliminary class-races and in the preliminary training, have shown themselves equal to the trial. For a contest between the picked men of two colleges, a four-mile course is better than a three-mile course. The stroke rowed in such a race is less exhausting, and in every way is healthier than the stroke adopted for a three-mile course.
To the eighth resolution I should like to add a ninth, with preamble as follows:
"As long as graduates from different colleges are allowed to go into the world to compete for the prizes of life, "the conditions under which' they compete should be as hearty equal as possible. It is manifest that the conditions could not be equal' while the colleges differ in respect to the number and wealth of their students, the worth of their property, and the value of their foundation." Therefore,
"Resolved, That students from colleges in which the attendance numbers more than 300, or of which the worth of property and the value of foundations amount to more than $500,000, shall not be allowed to engage in contests, either before or after graduation, with students of other colleges."
I could criticise the regulations still further, but I do not believe that you will care to have me do so. Some of the points which I might make you will find treated in the March Popular Science Monthly.
I am well aware that it is easier to criticise rules when made than to make them. I confess that I do not wish to make them. I do not think that the making of rules for athletic sports is the business of the faculty of a college. Neither does it seem to me that the evils growing out of these sports have assumed such proportions as to call for faculty interference in the way proposed. I cannot but believe that it will be an unfortunate blow for the physical and essentially manly development of our educated youth if these rules are generally adopted. The management of athletic sports might wisely be left to the students. They may make mistakes, but they also learn to remedy them, and thus learn wisdom at the same time. Better mistakes with wisdom learned than to remove the chances of mistake by that emasculation of student life which will surely come if college authorities attempt to manage all their affairs and keep them in leading strings in season and out of season!
The safe and proper restriction on athletic sports is to be found in the requirements of the classroom. At Yale we get along well with our young men by allowing them to guide their own affairs, only insisting that they attend regularly to their college work, be obedient to authority, and keep good order. We are so well pleased with the arrangement and the resulting good feeling between instructors and pupils, that we do not propose to disturb our own peace or annoy our students by hasty and uncalled-for legislation, even if by our refusal to adopt such legislation, we are so unfortunate as to offend good people who look at the matter from a point of view which we regard as mistaken. Yours sincerely.
E. L. RICHARDS.