RESTRICTION OF ELIGIBILITY TO UNDERGRADUATES.
Opinions of Dean Briggs, Dean Hurlbut, Professor Hollis, Professor White, Professor Coolidge, W. T. Reid, Jr., J. W. Farley, R. P. Kernan.
The question of barring members of professional schools from representing their universities in intercollegiate athletics, and of thereby limiting these contests to undergraduates, is one that is receiving increased attention. The CRIMSON prints below the opinions of several members of the Faculty, of two recent graduates, and of one undergraduate. President Eliot, although unable to give a written discussion, has said that he favors the exclusion from athletics of members of the graduate departments.
I believe it would be better for athletics and for the universities if graduate students and students in professional schools were not admitted to the teams. In saying this I do not forget that some of the most skilful and loyal Harvard players have been members of professional schools, and that the best intellectual work done by a member of a Harvard team within my memory was done a year ago by a member of the best football team the University has had, who was then a Medical student and had once been a member of another university. L. B. R. BRIGGS.
I have had so little time today to give careful thought to your question of this morning that I hesitate to express an opinion. On the whole, however, I think that it would be fairest, considering all of the teams engaged in play, and best for the interest of sport, if teams were made up wholly of undergraduates. B. S. HURLBUT.
The object of eligibility rules is to promote equality among college teams, to discourage unfair practices and to hold players up to reasonable scholarship. The rules ought to be made by intercollegiate agreement in order that the interpretation and practice may be the same. Every effort should be directed toward the conservation of those sports which promote manliness, character, and courtesy. All the elements which have a tendency to make of sport a business should be kept out, but, on the other hand, there should not be too much regulation.
The question in regard to the participation of the graduate students in intercollegiate sports is not new. It has seemed to many students and graduates that the members of the graduate schools are a disturbing element, that they are usually much older than the average of the team and out of the class of the ordinary undergraduate. At Harvard, several members of the Law School who have taken part in athletics have been graduates of other universities, and have therefore reached an age which might naturally incline them to the more serious side of life. The exclusion of all graduate students, thus limiting the membership of the teams to the undergraduates of the College and Scientific School, would take away from the representative character of the teams, although it might tend to introduce more of the element of fun into the games. The notion that there is any great abuse to be corrected is hardly warranted by the exclusion of a few Law School men from participation in athletic sports. The graduate schools contribute only a small percentage of the members of teams, and it would be a very unusual thing to elect any but an undergraduate captain. The exclusion for one year of all men who have been members of athletic teams in other universities was intended to discourage the migration of athletes. We do not want men who are here solely for athletic purposes. But there seems no logical reason why a student who comes for his education should not hope to make an athletic team. On the other hand, if other universities would enter an agreement to exclude graduate students, Harvard would not be likely to hold back.
It seems to me that in directing our attention to the exclusion of men who come here for athletic purposes, we are likely, to lose sight of those who come from preparatory schools. There is no doubt that some men go to a university for the sake of playing on university teams, their education being made endurable only by this prospect. While we are legislating, therefore, we ought to exclude all men who come from the secondary schools solely for athletics. The difficulty is to find out who they are, as it is impossible to know the motives of a man when he registers. One thing that could be done would be to discourage the solicitation and procurement of athletes from preparatory schools by making a one year rule applicable to undergraduates. No first year men would under this rule be allowed to compete on a University team. The system by which superior athletes are obtained from the lower schools is a much greater abuse today than the migration of athletes from college to college. The fundamental principle at the root of good college sport is that no college should be willing to gain for itself an advantage which does not spring from the development of the men who would naturally become members of the institution. As soon as any college begins searching about for likely athletes, it is obtaining an unfair advantage unless the other colleges do the same thing. If all solicit likely athletes, the sports become practically a business, and boys in the preparatory schools acquire an entirely distorted notion of their importance in college. One of the greatest reforms which could be effected today, and one which would benefit sports most, would be an agreement among all colleges not to solicit in any way the promising members of school teams or of amateur associations of any kind. This is far more important than the exclusion of the members of the graduate schools. IRA N. HOLLIS.
The policy of playing graduate students on university teams has been long established at Harvard. In boating the ante-bellum records show that even members of the body of instruction were included in the athletic family. On the roll of the University crew of 1858, for instance, appear the names of Charles W. Eliot and Alexander Agassiz, both at that date graduates and the former on the teaching staff of the University. This practice seems to have lapsed later, but in the spring of 1871, at a conference between representatives of Harvard and Yale (at which the writer was present), notice was given by Harvard that after that year students not merely from the College, but from all departments of the University would be admitted to membership on the University nine. Yale at first demurred, but afterwards cheerfully adopted the same policy which has since been generally followed by American Universities.
The proposition to revert to the narrower policy should therefore receive careful consideration. It will be appropriate to point out the evils of the present system, to prove that the step suggested is the sole or the best as well as the simplest solution, to justify the apparent disfranchisement of a certain class of students with respect to their athletic rights or privileges, and incidentally to define with precision the delimitation of the term graduate student. In this discussion the voice of graduates and undergraduates should both be heard, and ultimately some kind of joint intercollegiate agreement and action should be attempted, if not attained. The writer does not care to prejudge the case, but is of the opinion that the easiest remedies are not always the fairest, and that accordingly it would be wiser to endeavor to control the abuse of proper privileges before advancing to their abolition. H. S. WHITE '73.
The suggestion certainly deserves serious consideration, for some of its advantages are obvious. Among other things, it would diminish the number of cases of doubtful eligibility and would tend to keep down the age of the players in a way that would be desirable. We still speak of intercollegiate athletics and we think of our teams as representing, primarily, Harvard College (including the Scientific School), rather than Harvard University. The same, however, does not hold true of some other institutions whose circumstances are not similar to ours, and the study of law is no more a reason in itself against playing football than is the study of Latin or of mathematics. We are strong enough to act alone if we want to, but it is usually better to move in agreement with others and sometimes to let well enough alone. ARCHIBALD CARY COOLIDGE.
W. T. Reid, Jr., '01.
In treating the question of exclusion of graduate students from University teams, one should consider the effect such exclusion would have,--first, upon the University, second, upon the country at large, including those smaller colleges whose policy is materially affected by the athletic position of the large Universities, third, upon the efficiency of the teams, and fourth, upon the individuals affected.
In regard to the first consideration, that with reference to the University, the exclusion of graduate students would seem advisable. Those questions as to eligibility which have attracted notoriety in the newspapers of recent years have been chiefly those of graduate students, and whether or not in any such cases there has been anything to bring any just unfavorable comment on the University, the mere circulation of the matter has brought a disagreeable prominence and tended to hurt the University's athletic reputation by such notoriety. If graduates were debarred, such cases would practically disappear.
In the second place, exclusion of graduate students would, as the example of one of the great universities, be probably followed by the smaller colleges, and the good there might be in such action would be almost universally spread.
As to the third consideration, the effect of exclusion upon the efficiency of teams, little weight should be given. The efficiency of any transient team should not affect judgment upon the right and wrong of a permanent policy.
But the fourth consideration, while not upsetting the general theory of graduate exclusion, would seem to limit its application. By graduate exclusion hardships would be wrought on earnest men and good students from other universities who wished to enter into Harvard athletics for the fun there was in them. Such individual injustice, however, for the sake of the general policy, must be overlooked. But the injustice to men who have been through Harvard College and are thus debarred would be great. They are bona fide Harvard men--the men in general the best and most reliable on a team. The records of these men are known; the records of graduate students from other colleges depends only on hearsay or on the testimonies of other athletic authorities often having dissimilar standards to our own. The reasons making advisable the disbarment of these latter men would not apply to the first.
In conclusion, then, I should say it would be well to bar out graduates from other colleges, but not men who have gone through Harvard College and taken its degree. W. T. REID, JR.
J. W. Farley '99.
The question of limiting the membership of Harvard teams to undergraduates is one which is of great importance, for it must necessarily greatly affect both the general feeling in the University, and the character of the teams.
It seems obvious that there are two points of view from which to consider the question--that of competition with Yale solely and that of the general effect on the University.
From the first point of view it seems obvious that it would be a great handicap. From year to year a good many men from the graduate schools make the teams and the very fact that these men beat out undergraduates for the positions, shows that the teams must be strengthened by them. Owing to her small graduate schools. Yale plays few graduates. Such a rule then must inevitably be to our disadvantage. At present the graduate school in some manner offsets the advantage Yale gets by her careful system of attracting the best athletes from the preparatory schools. That Yale does this, by entirely fair means (it is perhaps granted), her own men acknowledge. Can any graduates be more justly put in the class of veterans than Sheldon, Glass and Hogan, who were each 25 years of age. Rightly or wrongly Harvard has not yet done this. If we are to continue on a par with Yale it seems probable that it must be done even under the present rule; a fortiore then, if we put ourselves in the disadvantage in this new way.
Merely from the point of view of competition with Yale then, the proposed rule is one all to their advantage, and leading with us, either to an unfortunate system of seeking for school athletes or consistent inferiority in material.
From the point of view of its general effect on the University the argument is more important and involved. On the one hand it is urged that athletics are an undergraduate's recreation and that the main interest and support is among the undergraduates. Moreover, that it is apt to be among the graduate students that the doubtful cases arise. But, on the other hand, our teams are after all University teams, the presence of older men adds an element of balance--and the interest felt by the schools represented helps knit our loose-jointed system into a whole. Is not this latter perhaps the final argument? If we are to be a university, if the graduate schools are to be considered and treated as a vital fact, is it not wrong to prevent their participation in that, which, deny it who will; after all is one of the strongest factors in creating common feeling? J. W. FARLEY.
R. P. Kernan '03.
There has been a great deal of discussion lately as to whether or not men in graduate departments of our universities should be eligible for university athletic teams. Looking from a Harvard point of view, in fact looking from any point of view, I believe such men should be allowed to play.
In considering this question we must remember the reason for making any set eligibility rules. They are made in order to put all teams on an equal footing; to give every man an equal chance. For example, a professional is not allowed to play on an amateur team, because he is one who makes the playing of a game his life's work, and is believed to have an unfair advantage over a man who is playing the game merely for the sport's sake. A man who has played four years has had more experience and should be better equipped than one who is merely following the regular four year course in college.
A man who goes to college merely for the sake of playing on athletic teams, better known to college men as a "ringer," is to all intents and purposes a professional, because he is making athletics his one aim in life, and he should therefore be debarred. Thus all eligibility rules point toward the same end. But if a student in a graduate school stands in the athletic world on an equal footing with other athletes; if by playing him our university teams are not taking an unfair advantage over their opponents, the men in graduate departments should be eligible to play.
Many people claim that such is not the case. They say that these men have more experience; that it causes more cases of professionalism to be brought up, and that these men are too old to play on college teams. In the first place, the four-year rule is just as strict for a graduate student as for an undergraduate, so the difference in experience is generally very slight. As far as professionalism is concerned. I cannot see why an older, more level-headed man, should try to evade these rules any more than a young student just out of preparatory school. I admit that men in graduate departments are usually older than men playing on college teams, but I consider this advantage a perfectly fair one, because college teams do not consider themselves on an equal footing with university teams. Every player on a university team considers it a personal disgrace to be beaten by a college team, whereas a college team generally expects to be beaten. This shows that there must be a difference in the personnel of a college and university team. The mere fact that one university has an advantage over another university in the respective playing abilities of the members of its graduate departments does not enter into the argument at all.
For these reasons, it seems to me that a university playing members of graduate departments on its teams is taking no unfair advantage over its opponents, and therefore these students should be allowed to play. R. P. KERNAN '03