Officials of the Harvard Athletic Department, having rejected all bids for the right to broadcast home football games this fall, now find themselves in an embarrassing position. For the past several years WHRB, the University's undergraduate radio station, has been asking pelmission to carry these games on its own wires. The H.A.A.'s answer has always been no, because--as the argument ran--any arrangement with WHRB would violate the University's "exclusive" home game contract with WBZ of Boston. And a football contract is worth more money if it is truly "exclusive," said the H.A.A. men, shaking their pocketbooks sadly.
But it is now certain that neither WBZ nor any other local station will broadcast the Crimson's games this fall. With no "exclusive" contract involved, the Athletic Department has thus lost its financial argument against WHRB, and is basing its stand this time on what it considers a moral proposition. College students are given free tickets for home football games, the Boylston St. officials contend, and therefore they are obligated to see the games. Undergraduates should not stay in their rooms and listen on Saturday afternoons; they should go down to the Stadium and cheer.
Actually, whether or not WHRB broadcasts home games this fall will have little effect on the amount of noise emanating from the Stadium. The overwhelming majority of College students, as the Athletic Department must know, do attend football games. They did several years ago when they had to pay for their tickets; they did last year when WBZ broadcasted the games; and they will this year regardless of the Saturday afternoon programming on WHRB.
The proposed broadcasts would, on the other hand, always have at least a small audience in the College area. Students who simply dislike watching football games, who have a long paper to write over the weekend, or who, especially on a rainy day, might prefer to remain in their rooms with a date and a drink, all might like to tune in at some time during the afternoon.
These people are legitimate members of Harvard College. They are all contributing financial support to the football program by paying their tuition. The Athletic Department has absolutely no right to decree that these students "should" be in the Stadium cheering on a Saturday afternoon.
Well, WHRB this fall has once again presented its arguments to the athletic officials, and has once again met with strong disapproval. A final decision on the matter will probably be made next Monday when the Faculty Committee on Athletics holds its monthly meeting. We hope the Committee will recognize that Harvard undergraduates have a right not to attend football games if they don't want to, and that WHRB has a right to broadcast these games to the College.