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.