In any consideration of the question of football scholarships, Harvard stands in a favored position. It has plenty of ivy and class, it has the journalistic prestige that means headlines for star performers, and it even has a vague quality known as "educational opportunities" which might attract a stray athletic now and then. On top of all these inducements Harvard has the richest alumni body and the largest financial endowment of any university in the country.
This alumni body and this endowment are the decisive factors in settling the problem of the place of athletics in college. They mean that when the University needs a new library it doesn't have to depend on its football victories to gain its ends. They mean that it isn't the crowds at the Stadium that pay the Faculty its wages. And thanks to the alumni the H.A.A. is carefully hoarding a reserve athletic endowment, contributed over the last five years. Eventually the interest from this fund will be used to support the teams in the minor sports, so that football gate receipts won't determine the amount of money put at the disposal of the House, Jayvee, and incidental squads through the rest of the year.
So hiring players to boost the glory of the Crimson and to fill the till is not a necessary or a desirable part of the athletic program at Harvard. However, without professionalism even a master coach like Dick Harlow cannot turn out a superlative team every autumn. If we play football as a game and not as an industry we must take our chances on attracting material to Cambridge. Harvard's drawing power, perforce, will be its reputation, not its alumni.
If we are not turning out powerhouse after powerhouse and All-America after All-America, it is impossible for us to compete with teams which are bidding on the open market every spring and then geting results on the gridiron the next fall. Taxas A. & M., Georgia Tech, Boston College, and even our old friends Penn and Cornell are playing a different sort of football from ours. They are going after their wins Yawkey style. One year out of five we may be able to equal their squads, guard for guard and back for back, but in the other four years any contest with the semi-pros will result in a one-sided and futile struggle.
It is unfortunate that the Crimson's 1941 season will open with Penn and Cornell, two teams which have been more or less openly recruited for the purpose of winning games. Way back in 1937 when the schedules for next fall and even for the fall of 1942 were made out, Gloomy Gil Dobie's policy was still in effect in Ithaca, and the Pennsylvanians had not yet been attracted by the lure of a winning team for their Bi-Centennial. Both schools ranked in the pure amateur class. However, it was a risky venture even then to map out a program for four and five years ahead. The H.A.A. officials have learned their lesson from this disastrous experience. From now on, they have resolved, the schedules will be made not more than two and half years in advance of the event. Under this system they will be able to get a line on the athletic policy of a rival institution before they set the game date.
Harvard is lucky to have a set of neighbors whose ideas correspond with its own, chiefly because their finances permit it. On Monday the new Yale athletic head reaffirmed his school's traditional stand, opposed to professional football whether at Yale or among the Elis' opponents. Princeton, Brown, and Columbia agree on fundamentals, and even Dartmouth seems to be coming around to the views of the Big Three. Finally, Army and Navy, by the nature of their enrollment, turn out uniformly non-subsidized elevens. Right there are seven opportunities for games in which victory will be on the side of the better team, not the better bargainer.