Dana L. Farnsworth, director of University Health Services, has ordered an emergency investigation into the snapping of fiberglass poles during Harvard's track season. Four of the light-weight poles have splintered in a "potentially dangerous" way in meets and practices since the beginning of the year.
Farnsworth said Sunday that "the danger of somebody becoming impaled" on a splintered pole was too great for the University to take. He added that he did not want to hurt the sport, but expressed fears that someone might be injured if Harvard did not take "appropriate precautions."
The Faculty Committee on Athletic Sports has been considering the dangers of fiberglass poles for several weeks, paying special attention to the "weight rating" which Harvard uses to make sure athletes do not vault with a pole that is too light for them. As a general rule, vaulters like to use the lightest pole possible, since light poles are more flexible and give a more vigorous snap, sending them higher into the air.
FCAS to Do Survey
According to Farnsworth, the FCAS decided last Wednesday that the situation had become serious enough to warrant a full-scale survey. Farnsworth said the FCAS would report its findings to the committee on sports of the American Medical Association.
Harvard track coach Bill McCurdy said in an interview that he had never heard of a vaulter being impaled on a pole, but that the Athletic Department did not want to take chances. If the FCAS recommends that the track team stop using the fiberglass poles, McCurdy added, his vaulters would require time to readjust to metal poles.