The recent action of the Intercollegiate Football Association, providing new requirements for the eligibility of contestants in intercollegiate football games, is one which upon careful thought becomes very significant. It is not the purpose of the CRIMSON to discuss the situation and Harvard's probable attitude; that may be a question for future consideration. There are however, a few interesting points in connection with this matter which as yet have not received public recognition.
The amendment as passed at the intercollegiate meeting was:
" No member of a graduate department or special student shall be eligible, nor any undergraduate who is registered or has attended lectures or recitations at any other university or college, nor any undergraduate who is not pursuing a course for a degree requiring attendance for at least three years,"
Yale's stand is well illustrated in the following editorial taken from the Yale News:
"The change which was made in the rules of the Inter-Collegiate Foot-Ball Association on Saturday, by a majority vote of the members of the league, is the most important move that has been made in relation to foot-ball for years. Its object is of course to leave no ground for the breaking of the rules in regard to the eligibility of players to positions on the teams of the various universities and colleges. The exclusion of all members of graduate departments will effectually put a stop to the importation of foot-ball material, and the provision in regard to special students will practically stamp out professionalism. The rule was conceived without any idea, either of forcing any member of the league to withdraw from, or of preventing any team from joining the association; its spirit is entirely impersonal and it has been decided on as the best, and in fact the only way to satisfy the demand for the 'purification of athletics.' which every institution in the athletic field has advocated, without however, considering any practical solution of the difficulty, until Yale and her advisers formulated the regulations which were so favorably regarded on Saturday. This change will deprive every team which it affects of several good men, some more, some less, the number is only an incident, and not to be brought into the discussion, but it must be evident to every unprejudiced individual or institution that it will improve the tone of foot-ball. It is to be hoped, moreover, now that the ice is broken, that this provision will be extended without delay to all other branches of athletics."
It may be well here to correct a misunderstanding which many fellows in college have received in regard to the bearing of the new rule upon the Harvard-Yale game at Springfield next fall. There is a clause in the five year agreement governing these games to the effect that they shall be played under the rules of the intercollegiate association. It seems then at first sight that Yale will insist next fall on our playing upon the same terms with which she meets Princeton, Wesleyan and the University of Pennsylvania; in other words that she will dictate the conditions under which Harvard shall play. Whatever motives Yale may have had in putting through these new restrictions, no one need have any fears on the above score. The rule which is quoted was passed as an amendment to the Constitution of the Intercollegiate Association and hence is not applicable to Harvard, as the agreement between Harvard and Yale relates only to the Playing Rules of the Association.
There are however, some facts in connection with this effort for the "purification of athletics" which are not generally known and which ought to be well understood. Yale cannot justly claim to be the originator of this scheme to reduce college athletics to the minimum of professionalism, as current reports would seem to imply. In point of fact Harvard made a proposition to Yale in May of 1890 which practically covered the ground now taken by Yale. This proposition contained articles of agreement which should regulate all contests in football, baseball, rowing. and track and field athletics. The article on time limitation read as follows:
"No student shall be eligible as a member of any university team in any one of the four sports before mentioned after the expiration of the three academic years immediately following that in which he played for the first time in an intercollegiate contest with the university team representing the same sport.
From the beginning of the year 1892, university teams shall be composed exclusively of the following persons:
1. Candidates for the degree of A. B. or S. B.
2. Special students in the Academic and Scientific departments not being graduates of any college."
The same proposition was made to Princeton in December of 1891 with the exceptions that the sports mentioned are only football and baseball and that a clause is inserted specifying the eligibility of players should not go into effect until a similar rule had been adopted between Harvard and Yale, and Princeton and Yale.
Both of these propositions fell through, the first because of a failure to decide upon places satisfactory to both universities, the second because of a disagreement about dates. Yale and Princeton each admitted the justice of putting the time which these rules should go into effect two years from the date of their adoption. By this precaution all chance of unfairness was done away with. The broad application, too, of the rule to all lines of athletics is also significant, in showing the sincerity with which Harvard three years ago attempted to carry out essentially the same plan which has just been put into operation by Yale.