NOW TO ACT
On the preceding page is printed a list of changes which the Yale News, the Daily Princetonian, and the CRIMSON, feel are necessary if the present tendencies of football are to be checked. It is to be hoped that there will not be a large number of people who will deduce that the object is to spoil the game. Rather, the platform was drawn up with the feeling that the present over-systematizing, over-training, and over-emphasis, of football must be counteracted, or these characteristics will grow and make conditions so bad that the game would be killed. Some of the points on this platform are, as the result of the discussion that has been going on everywhere for the past few months, fairly acceptable. Others may seem radical in the extreme, and yet to make changes less far-reaching would probably accomplish relatively little.
We fail to see where there is any substantial argument in favor of starting practice three weeks before college opens in the fall; to be sure, the players must have time to get into condition, and a lot of injuries would result if this time were not taken. If pre-season practice is eliminated, it would not be possible to play as many games as at present; it is our opinion that a five game season is long enough. And after all it looks a bit out of proportion to say that it is not necessary to be at college for studies until this date, but football--well, that is much more important. And the same applies to hockey practice during Christmas vacation.
On the danger of playing intersectional games we have already commented at some length. The time would undoubtedly come when, if we were to play some middle-western college for a period of years, the demand on the part of our own alumni, of the alumni of our opponent, and of the public in general, would be so great as to cause our team to play at that college instead of in Cambridge. Not to want to play games away from home may appear snobbish, but the danger of having the football team sent around the country as an advertisement is so great as to make some step necessary. It must also be remembered that unless the abolition of pre-season practice is made universal among the colleges, we would not be able to play with a team which began training earlier.
The third and fourth provisions of the platform are designed to meet two troubles. If the statements of source of income are honestly filled out, it will be possible to prevent participation in athletics by anyone who is receiving a so-called athletic scholarship or who is being sent to college to play on the teams by some well-meaning but misguided alumnus. It is almost a corollary to this that no scholarship should be given a man without that fact being made public, and without the approval of the college authorities. The transfer athlete, or "tramp", is one of the worst results of present over-emphasis on athletics; because an individual can acquire a great deal of fame by playing on a college team, many wish to go to college for that reason alone. Often such transfers enter another college at first because they are unable to satisfy the admission requirements of the college they ultimately expect to attend. If it be required that these men show their ability to pass the entrance examinations of the second college they attend, there can be no doubt of their value as students. These measures are planned to avoid the necessity of making the transfer athlete entirely ineligible.
It will be immediately suggested, in regard to number five, that restricting communication between coach and player will result in more injuries. If the squad doctor is left to decide who is so injured that it is inadvisable for that individual to play further, he can of course see that substitutions are made as they become necessary; as a matter of fact, the doctor is now the person on whom this decision rests. A rule of this sort would prevent only communication between the coach and the players who may be substituted--in other words, would leave the playing of the contest entirely to the members of the team.
To eliminate organized scouting, of course, would not stop graduates who see teams playing from sending in "dope", but it would be less scientific, and at least be some advance. This step would include the abolishment of sending, at the expense of the athletic association, a coach to watch future opponents play, and also sending any members of the team to such games as the Yale-Princeton contest.
Needless to say, none of these measures will be of very great value if they are taken in the wrong spirit. If the spirit of the game were absolutely right now there would be no need for any change; if the disgrace of losing a game were understood to be no disgrace at all, much that is now wrong would automatically right itself. The thing of importance is to play the game for its own sake; many games such as tennis are played very largely for the purpose of enjoyment. And just so far as any sportsman begins to feel that he must win, will the game lose some of its enjoyment; and just so far will he become less of a sportsman.