The committee say in their report, that they have attended four games of foot ball this autumn, the Harvard, Yale and Princeton series, and the Pennsylvania vs. Wesleyan,. The Yale Harvard game was the least objectionable, while the Wesleyan-Pennsylvania was the most so. In all there was brutal fighting with closed fists, and men had to be separated in the field: there was in general great lack of gentlemanly spirit. Premeditated and concerted off side play was rarely punished: it is hard to be detected by the referee and not always recognized as such by the audience. The committee find the game brutal and demoralizing to participants and spectators, and recommend that it be abolished. The chairman, Mr. White, then stated that the opinion of the committee was open to modification.
The committee stated that no game had been played without violation of rules this year, though the faculty had given a year's opportunity for improvement in this respect; they object to this condition of play; for men who will not play unfairly cannot win, at present. Mr. Curtis, '83, urged delay, that Harvard might influence the other colleges to modify the rules again, in the inter-collegiate convention. He proposed that three referees should be employed, and the various duties be divided up amongst them, one especially to warn for intentional unfair play, which should immediately disqualify without permitting a substitute to take such disqualified player's place. The referees might be chosen by the convention.
Mr. W. B. Noble, '85, favored a committee to adopt a new set of rules to be submitted to the faculty, and in turn adopted by the convention, as a condition of Harvard's continuing to play. To these suggestions Mr. White answered that the faculty could not go on experimenting; this was tried last year without any beneficial effect. Capt. Kimball then affirmed that owing to a change in the sentiment of Yale and Princeton, that new regulations could be more easily urged upon them than last year; and Mr. Noble spoke for increased power for the referee to enforce the existing rules, which as they stand are sufficient to prevent objectionable play, if pearly enforced.
Mr. Denniston then pointed out that the referee often would not disqualify single instances of unfair play that he saw, knowing such to be only a small part of what went on behind his back, and was hence in a false position. Division of labor among several referees was the true solution; let this be proposed to Yale, if they adopt it well and good; but if not, then let the game be stopped at Harvard. Mr. Williams thought that playing had improved in tone this year, and that the stronger public opinion of the present would uphold and carry through any changes as proposed. An urgent appeal was then made to the committee by several gentlemen for more time to introduce sweeping changes in the rules. The game was acknowledged to be the most healthful of college sports, and it should not too readily be given up. The conversation then became general, and the meeting soon borke up.