Prof. Davis on May Illustrated
The May Illustrated presents as its leading article a discussion of Harvard's athletic budget. This article is in a sense an answer to Dean Briggs's criticism of college athletics in general in the last annual report of the Athletic Committee. Mr. Gill has gone over the figures for 1909-10, and presents a great number of them, more or less digested, in a long series of tables. His general conclusion is that if we will grant the legitimacy and wisdom of "the whole policy of modern, organized athletics . . . over $122,000 of the $127,000 . . . was carefully and purposely spent," and that even for the rest of it there is much justification. That is, there is very little "graft" in Harvard athletics. But this is not news; no one would have suspected a prevalence of petty graft in the situation. The main question at issue is one of spirit, not of detail.
To most of us, the best side of college athletics is one which Paul Withington recently described with ringing pride at a Harvard alumni dinner. I cannot quote his figures, but their purport was that on any fine afternoon Soldiers Field and the river can show a greater number engaged in outdoor sport than would have been dreamed of ten years ago. According to this view the most welcome item in that $127,000 budget is the $10,600 spent for "permanent improvements," and the most significant thing about Mr. Gill's article is that if, as he believes, there really is "a bare possibility of saving . . . $4,500 at best by actually cutting out purely extravagant and wasteful expenditures," we could have put $15,000 into Soldiers Field instead of $10,600. That would be worth while.
The whole thing seems to me a case, not for muckraking, but for a sort of loyalty on the part of coaches and especially players to the ideal of universal athletics. If a University football man really needs five pairs of shoes and three sweaters in seven weeks, far be it from any of us to say him nay--and even if he only thinks he needs them, it may be conducive to the happiness of us all to keep him happy--but I wish that somehow he could feel instinctively about each purchase, that if he could get on perfectly well without this or that, it would mean just so much more good turf for next spring's Leiter Cup baseball. Such a spirit of loyalty and idealism on the part of each man would make a lot of difference in the budget, and in Soldiers Field.
There is also a summary of the annual post card canvass on college courses. The most interesting thing about it is the invariable appearance of Professor Palmer's Phil. 4 at the head of the list. The next most interesting thing is a remark on the editorial page that "the more notorious snap courses are all noticeably low down." The sooner the student body learns from its own experience that choosing a course merely because it is a "snap" is an uninteresting and unpleasant as well as an unprofitable adventure, the better for all concerned.
The other articles, "Lacrosse Among the Indians," by Mr. Skinner; "The Underlying Spirit," by Mr. Mariett, and "Plutocracy and the College," by Mr. Swift, are interesting and well written; but if I really believed Mr. Swift's arrangement, I should want to shut up shop at once and take to farming.