A defeat such as the cross-country team experienced yesterday does not occur without a good reason. It is hard to believe that the trouble is with the runners, because they are drawn from the University and Freshman track teams of last year, both of which made excellent records. Moreover, our cross-country teams heretofore, some of which have had superior material, have won very few races. We believe that the fault lies with the irregular system under which the sport is carried on, and that a change in the present short-sighted economy of the Athletic Association by which a good coach and trainer may be provided for the cross-country team will be found to be the remedy for non-success.
The experience of last year, when the men were trained by a competent professional, gives point to this view. Though the squad as a whole was not above the average in ability, a team was developed which gave Technology a close race, defeated Yale, and made a good showing in the intercollegiate meet. This year the team has been unfortunate in losing the services of its best performer, but that is all the more reason why unusual pains should be spent on the development of the rest.
Track athletes are divided in opinion as to the value of cross-country racing as a sport in itself, and as to its effect on other sports. As one of the most strenuous forms of exercise followed in the colleges, it certainly needs the careful oversight of experienced trainers and coaches if it is not to be attended by injurious results. But as long as Harvard teams are allowed to compete in the event, and men are encouraged to come out for them, there should be competent coaching, in order that the risk of injury may be minimized and that the teams may have a chance to sustain the reputation of the College.
Two more races are to be run during the present season. In the Yale and intercollegiate meets the Harvard team will have opponents just as fast as those it met yesterday. It is not too late to make proper preparation for those meets if immediate steps are taken to provide a coach who can give the attention which is now so much needed.