England, as economists would have it, has for come years been merely a poor relation of the United States. Devaluation, rationing, a dollar shortage all seem to be well-established throughout the British Isles; from their plush arm-chairs, American observers are inclined to be a bit patronizing.
Greenback complacency, however, no longer is serviceable on the American-English sporting front, especially as it concerns Harvard. As Carroll F. Getchell, Business Manager of the H.A.A. noted last last month, unless a substantial amount of American cash is found, the Harvard-Yale, Oxford-Cambridge track meet will seen have to be cancelled, perhaps for good. Since Getchell's announcement, a minor international incident has arisen, but little has changed financially.
The problem is simple. The American teams, which also include Princeton and Cornell, have in the past had to bear the brunt of each English team's travel expenses. Since the meets do not draw well here, the funds would this year, as usual, have to be provided outright by each college. The H.A.A. has decided that it does not this year possess the necessary two to three thousand dollars; Princeton, Yale, and Cornell are somewhat uncertain.
Getchell's announcement brought a do-or-die rejoinder from across the ocean. R. S. "Sandy" MacDonald of Cambridge University stated that the English teams would be glad to pay their own way across this year. All was happy for a brief space, although American track men may have felt a bit miffed at a vision of John Bull, in scuffed spikes and moth-eaten persey, running against well-fed and well-outfitted local collegians.
Of course, there was a joker. MacDonald made it plain that English teams would not be coming here, if the Americans would not reciprocate, in both 1954 and 1955. As it later turned out, the English were counting on the proceeds from both those meets to pay off the loans made to enable this year's trip.
Did the H.A.A. feel it could guarantee expensive return trips, with no rewards in sight? Naturally not, and here the matter is resting--or perhaps better, dying. A recent meeting of athletic bigwigs ascertained only that Yale and Cornell were strongly in favor of continuing the meets, that Princeton and Harvard were less enthusiastic. No one has yet ascertained where the money is coming from.
In past years, some of the cash might have been contributed by track alumni, but fund drives in 1949, '50, and '52 (for former coach Jaakko Mikkola) have almost exhausted this source. With a hockey rink on the fire, a more general drive would never be approved, and quite probably would not succeed, even to the amount of $5000. The meet between the Crimson-Yale, Oxford-Cambridge teams has been tentatively scheduled for June 13, at Harvard Stadium, but as matters now stand, it would be just as safe to bet that the Academic Modern will hold a beauty contest there on that day.
I suppose that to mention tradition, value of international relations, and good track would be considered more babble by our jaded businessmen, as arguments for the meet's retention. After all, even dollar diplomacy needs dollars.
Whether or not dollar diplomacy needs dollars worse than international relations need track meets is a question that few of us could answer, but the H.A.A. may try to do it anyway.