Regarding Athletic Financial Policy
[We invite all men in the University to submit communications on subjects of timely interest. The CRIMSON is not, however, responsible for the sentiments expressed in such communications as may be printed.]
To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
There seems to be an impression abroad that the finances of the Harvard Athletic Association are in a particularly flourishing condition and that it would be quite easily possible to dispense with subscriptions of all kinds. Unfortunately such is far from being the case. It is true that our annual receipts are very large and, unless football should decline in popularity; they are likely to remain so. On the other hand, as far as we can see ahead, our expenses are still less likely to diminish, indeed they tend to grow in a manner that is almost alarming. Not only have all our savings of past seasons been used up in the construction of the Stadium, but it will be some years before we are free from debt on this account, yet, even as it is, we have been obliged to postpone for an indefinite period the building of the covered colonnade which was part of the original plan and which would add greatly to the appearance of the structure.
It is perhaps hardly realized that, besides our general and unavoidable expenses, we have to meet many urgent special demands. Within a few years the fence about Soldiers Field must be completed, at very considerable cost. The question of the removal of the Trophy Room to the Union has for some time been in abeyance for financial reasons. The changes made in the coaching of rowing and football have entailed additional expense, and the suggestions of fresh changes point much further in the same direction. One of the most pressing things of all is the necessity of enlarging the portion of Soldiers Field which can be utilized by the various class, scrub and minor teams, and something is being done each year, but it would be highly desirable if the work of filling in the land and preparing new turf could be hastened, for the overcrowding of the present available space is a crying evil. Unluckily, the larger our plant becomes, the greater is the cost of keeping it up, and there is no end to the improvements which might be made to it.
The policy adopted by the Athletic Committee towards the minor teams may seem parsimonious in detail, but it is only a return to earlier custom, for most of them have existed for many years without subsidies; indeed the practice of helping them out from the general funds was of recent origin. Nevertheless, the amount of money still assigned to them under the heading "Permanent equipment" makes a respectable sum, Again, to give an idea of how an apparently trifling item may mean a really considerable total, we can take the case of the granting of sweaters, medals, photographs, etc. The Committee has restricted its donations in this respect as overgenerous, and yet, though the minor teams and Freshmen have to pay for themselves, the annual expense to the common treasury comes to nearly $900. We are thus continually beset by legitimate, but numerous and over increasing demands upon our resources. These resources are supplied by gate money, chiefly of the football games, and in a very small degree by the subscriptions of the undergraduates. The average of the undergraduate subscriptions for all university teams, major and minor put together, is less than $2 per head, taking the students of the College and the Scientific School alone. There is a common but mistaken idea that the buying of an H. A. A. ticket is a contribution to support athletics, when, in reality, it is nothing but a cheap form of admission to the various sports. The sums raised among the undergraduates to maintain all the University teams do not greatly exceed what was subscribed by the College to keep up the crew alone twenty years ago, at a half as large as at present and represented far less wealth. In those days no team was self-supporting--all had to depend upon voluntary subscriptions, the total of which ahs steadily diminished. According to the report of the Graduate Treasurer for--the year 1889-90, the amount of money collected in this way for the University teams was $8,990.19. Last year it was $5,013.58. Still, small as is the present contribution, it is much needed, and until there is some sign that we can curtail instead of continually increase our expenses, the policy of the Athletic Committee must be prudent rather than thoughtlessly liberal. Under the best of circumstances we shall still have to practice careful economy for years to come. ARCHIBALD CARY COOLIDGE.
Acting Chairman of the Athletic Committee.