Another year slips by, and the Pentagonal Hockey League continues on its solitary, snobbish way. Boston College, Boston University, and Northeastern are good enough to play, it seems, but they are hardly on the same social plane.
B.C. and B.U. played Harvard, Dartmouth, and Brown twice this year, and Yale and Princeton once. Northeastern met Brown and Dartmouth twice, Harvard and Yale once. The Huskies have usually played Harvard twice in past seasons. The Pentagonal teams meet each other twice a year.
Even without these three teams in the league, the success of a Pentagonal team's season depends to a large extent on how it fares against them. Last year, for instance, the high point of the Crimson's record was that it was the only team which beat both B.U. and B.C., the eastern champions.
But the Ivy teams will not lower themselves socially by including the three Boston colleges in their league. They mouth objections about academic standards, recruiting, and other hypocrisies. The fact is, of course, that if they really believed in these objections they would have stopped playing these teams long ago. If they did this to the Penn football team, a member of their own league, how much more easily could they have done it to B.U., B.C., and Northeastern?
So Everybody Suffers
But the hypocrisy persists, to the detriment of both the Boston trio and the Ivy five. The Boston teams remain submerged in the New England League, a large, loose association containing Tufts, Bowdoin, M.I.T., Colby, and other teams hopelessly beneath them in ability. B.U. and B.C. have won the top two places without the slightest difficulty for years, with Northeastern their only league competition of significance.
Meanwhile, the Ivy teams play in a meaningless group of five. Everybody in athletics knows that five is too small for a league, and the Pentagonal provides the living proof. First place is the only one that counts, although second has a certain (very minor) prestige. Once first and second are out of reach, the league standings provide no stimulus to either competitive spirit or spectator interest.
In an eight team league, on the other hand, merely getting into the first division has great appeal, and every step away from the cellar is important. The fact that eight is the ideal size for a league has been universally recognized, particularly in professional sports, which are necessarily most sensitive to public interest.
Inclusion of the Boston clubs then, is the only way that league standings can be made either to create interest or to represent a squad's actual achievement and ranking among its real competitors.
The eight-member loop would contain all teams of consistently comparable ability in the area. It would be the most evenly balanced league of any sort in the country, for it has been shown repeatedly that any of the eight can beat any other on a given night.
Attendance would increase at league games, and that could be very important, since hockey is one of the most extravagant of college sports.
The advantages, in short, are innumerable. The objections are not only insignificant and petty; they aren't even true. But snobbishness is a powerful antagonist.