Few fingers will be crossed any tighter than those of the Crimson's headtrainer Jimmy Cox today in the Stadium when the whistle blows for the season's opening kickoff. Like the thousands of other first-gamers, Cox will probably be anxious to see how the much-balleyhooed Harvard backfield performs in its 1947 debut. But his primary concern will center around those men who don't score the touchdowns, the ones who may be lying on the ground upfield in the wake of the play. And any time a red-shirted player hits the turf and stays there, the Varsity trainer will really start sweating.
"Football Iron-Man? No Such Animal"
Cox, who has been doing his best for the past 11 seasons to keep Crimson football players out of Stillman Infirmary, takes the realistic attitude. "There is simply no such animal as a football iron man," he scoffs. "They all get hurt." If challenged as to the physical prowess of Doc Blanchard and similar "iron men", he makes one allowance. "There is," he concedes, "a type of boy who can overcome injuries by coordinating his style of play to fit the particular aliment-in contrast to the player who gets knocked out of kilter like a delicate watch with a grain of sand in it when hit by injury. The fellow who can keep going by making the injured limb do twice the work while the weak one mends is your so-called iron-man."
Crimson Elevens Rugged
According to Mr. C., Harvard football teams are notoriously vigorous, able to take care of themselves against anybody. "They have to be. Our whole setup here is to see that nobody gets injured; otherwise we don't have a team." Dick Harlow comes in for some orchids on this count. "Dick is the best coach I've seen in 20 years work for taking care of his men. If there's the slightest doubt in his mind that a player may seriously aggravate an injury, he'll take that boy out of the game pronto." Practicing what he preaches, trainer Cox plans to send his 14-year-old son to Exeter next year and eventually here to play under Harlow.
Since most of the injuries stem from sloppy individual technique caused by poor condition, the Varsity trainer encourages his charges to get into top physical shape and stay that way all season, with no letdowns for "just one Lucky or one quick beer." The only time a player may legitimately partake of anything stronger than rootbeer is when he's flat on his back on the field inhaling from a bottle of ammonia. On this point, the Varsity footballers agree. "What the hell," most of them will tell you, "it's just common sense."
Roast Beef but No Steak
Considerably more touchy is the question of the Varsity Club Training Table, which opened this week. "What steaks?" seems to be the unanimous reply to the traditional inquiry. "We get roast beef on the day of a game." Actually, the Varsity footballers get pretty much the same quality food as their undergraduate brothers, with a few alterations in the menu. For instance toast (not bread) appears on the training table. There is plenty of milk, but no coffee and only occasionally tea, while fried foods and sweets are also avoided.
Bad knees, sprained ankles, and sprained shoulders are the most common injuries, at least from Cox's experience. To care for these and other injuries, Jimmy and his assistants, whom he swears by, have a plethora of machines and devices to work with. Assistant trainer Eddie Noonan, Hal Knowlton, Ed Anderson, Joe Murphy (the x-ray man), and Al Palladino are the associates, and combined with the ample equipment, they make the Dillon Medical plant one of the finest among college field houses.
Here's some of the equipment that fills the Medical Room: there whirlpool baths, two needle baths, one sitz bath, ten radiant heat lamps of various wattage, three infra-red lamps, one ultraviolet lamp, one microtherm, two shortwave diathermes, two long-wave diathermes, and an x-ray machine capable of producing a finished film in something like three minutes. This machine, one of the few college field house x-ray units in captivity, stands loaded during all games to determine fractures.
When all of the above methods of curing fail, and a player is deemed unfit for contact work, he becomes a "cripple" and joins the special rehabilitation group. To get these men back into the lineup as quickly as possible, Cox employs a set of exercises specially tailored to fit the particular requirements of each man. Shoulder cases, for example, are put to work doing pushups until finally they are able to walk around on their hands.
Internal Injuries Most Dangerous
Although trainer and team doctor must be on the bench for all games and contact scrimmages, both Cox and Doctor Quigley are generally liberal about letting surface-injury victims go back into the fray. Open gashes, which bother some spectators, are stitched up right on the bench, adhesive tape is slapped over the wound and the player rushed back into the game if he's needed. "Professional hockey players aren't the only ones who compete with stitches in them." says Cox, "but the whole thing is pretty ugly business and we don't like to talk much about it. From the medical angle, it isn't too dangerous to play with a stitched-up cut or a reset nose. It's the internal injuries you've got to watch." Unlike most "game" bags, the Varsity sachel bulges with an unfeathered assortment of 34-odd items ranging from salt pills and scissors to talcum powder and tongue depressors.
Although injuries have become an accepted part of the game, often tipping the scales of victory and defeat with embarrassing results, fatalities in collegiate football today are rare. Trainer Jimmy Cox, who remembers when Varsity medical equipment consisted of a "bottle of horse linament, a roll of tape and a tub," credits improved training methods, specialized protective equipment like the modern helmet, and stricter medical checkups with lowering the deathrate. "Nowadays," observe the Varsity trainer, "boys with weak hearts and other boys who should never be allowed on a football field are ruled out at the start."