With the Spring sports season around the corner it is time for the H.A.A. to redefine its relations with the student body. If athletics are to compete successfully with other forms of extracurricular activity and the demands of studies, the H.A.A. must gain for itself increased undergraduate support.
The H.A.A. has never been lax in bidding for the backing of the sports-minded student. Fairness in relationships between officers and players forms the characteristic par excellence of Harvard sports. The powers that be have willingly opened the doors of administration to all who wanted to be student managers. But the Quincy Street bureaucracy has never fully realized the importance of giving the ordinary student a share in Harvard athletics.
The great mass of the College has views on athletic policies and problems which deserve to be heard, but which the H.A.A. does not hear fully. The H.A.A. has made some attempts to win undergraduate support by a policy of harkening to undergraduate voices. But these attempts are failures because the student committees which they established meet so sporadically as to cripple student interest and initiative in athletic problems.
In their principal effort of this sort, the authorities have every year permitted three undergraduates to serve on the Committee on the Regulation of Athletic Sports. This committee is the highest tribunal in Harvard athletics. Dealing with general and administrative policies and problems, it has recognized the importance of the undergraduate viewpoint. But that is only half the story, for the undergraduate members of this body are chosen solely from major sport ranks. The minor sport man and all those scores of students whose names never get in the headlines, but who have definite views which should be known, are completely shut out from a hearing in the court of Harvard athletics. The H.A.A. has built its barrier.
This condition must not continue if the H.A.A. wishes to be more than just a publicity bureau for athletes, if it wishes to compete with Widener Library for the spiritual and financial affection of the student body. Four out of five undergraduates will back Harvard sports to the full, and the traditional "indifference" which has handicapped teams in the past will disappear when students realize that Harvard teams are their teams when the H.A.A. gives every kind of student a voice in determining general athletic questions.