House Athletics

The Mail

To the Editors of the CRIMSON:

In last Saturday's CRIMSON a letter appeared criticizing the objectives and level of participation in House athletics. Two general complaints were made: first, that House sports have become so competitive that "less talented but spirited boys" are denied a chance to play; second, that the participants are generally frustrated varsity and junior varsity players who "seek to build up their egos at the expense of everyone else's."

In regard to the high degree of competition, there is little doubt that House sports are highly competitive, especially among Houses in the running for the Straus Trophy. Victory often becomes as important an objective as participation. In any contests, only the first team players are used for the majority of the game; substitutes see limited action. Mr. Horvitz believes that this policy distorts the stated purpose of intramural athletics, "athletics for all." We, however, feel that the sacrifice of some participation for competition is beneficial rather than detrimental. Anyone who has participated in sports at any level knows that competition increases enjoyment. Sport for the sake of exercise can become exceedingly boring as many of the graduates from the Freshman Physical Training program will testify. If the need for competition is admitted, the next question seems to be what level of competition is suitable for the House program. The answer to this question, however, cannot be given by the Inter-House Athletic Council nor any other executive body. The level of competition is determined by the degree of spirit and enthusiasm for athletics within each House. In recent years enthusiasm has run high in several Houses and the Inter-House Athletic Program has substantially improved. Contrary to what Mr. Horvitz implies, participation is at an all-time high. If there were less competition, there would be less participation.

A second objection Mr. Horvitz raises is that most of the players involved in House sports are of varsity or junior varsity caliber. This objection is not based on fact. Players with J.V. or varsity ability are exceptions rather than people who have participated in con-rules. We have strict rules preventing tests for Harvard from playing Inter-House sports. while there are still great differences in the ability of those who do play on the House level, these differences are not so great as to prevent all but a few people from participating.

Nevertheless, there are some who are still denied the right of participation. We feel that this is an unfortunate situation which is not the fault of the House Secretaries or the competitive nature of House sports. The problem really lies with inadequate facilities. The growth of the House Athletic Program has not been paralleled by an increase in Harvard's athletic plant. Nearly all facilities are cramped and over-crowded, especially those handling winter sports. We feel that unless this situation is remedied in the immediate future, the inter-House Athletic Program will face serious difficulties.  King Harris '65  Athletic Secretary for Leverett  John Cox '65  Athletic Secretary for Kirkland