Reforms in Harvard Athletic System
[We invite all men in the University to submit communications on subjects of timely interest.]
To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
When we have a winning spirit out here, then a more permanent and efficient coaching system, such as the appointment of a football committee of old players, or the retention of our present coach as administrator and securing for field coach a member of the last team, or, as in the rowing system, a trained professional, instinctively able to pick men and get the best work out of them, will be a step towards victory over Yale. But even such a coaching machine as Yale's could not bring about our victory over a college which can put not one eleven into a game, but almost two. If we will win, we must recruit Harvard with winning material by every legitimate means; we must all make it our business to secure the best athletes from preparatory schools, and not sit passive while other colleges bestir themselves; in short we must make a business of our football if we are to compete with Yale.
Such a situation is far from desirable, as it attaches an importance to football all out of proportion to its real value. It demands practically the exclusive attention of the squad for more than two months, and for almost as long absorbs the interest of a vast crowd of sideline shouters; and it disregards the real object of College sport--a general participation in healthful exercise for recreation and larger acquaintance. It is worth while considering whether the whole system of athletics should not be changed, either to one completely intra-college, or, as suggested by Mr. R. A. Derby '05, in the "Outlook" for October 5, 1907, to one of fewer outside games and more intra-college competition. Mr. Derby's scheme would leave the Yale game or some important contest, which would still mean with our "American temperament" considerable specialization and exclusion of other interests, and the undesirable newspaper and arena notoriety of players, but it might turn some of the side-liners into players and possibly into University material. If undergraduates and graduates are not yet ready to withdraw from outside competition in a perfectly frank and manly way, as we withdrew from competition with Pennsylvania, and yet believe in more general participation in sport, why not adopt some such system as Mr. Derby's, and stand by it and make it succeed? Propose to Yale that a more rational condition of athletics be brought about in the two universities.
All sorts of progress has got to be made some day. Some kind of progress in football we demand today. Undergraduates and graduates should carefully consider which of several possible radical changes is the best, and having arrived at a majority conclusion through the university publications, or in a general meeting of the members of the Harvard Athletic Association, should insist that their Athletic Committee conform to that conclusion and carry out conscientiously whatever reforms Harvard men decree. C. W. CATE '07.