An editorial in the Spirit of the Times about the challenges of Cornell to Yale and Harvard is worth reading. We cut out the following paragraphs:
"From an editorial in the Cornell Sun we clip the following sentences: When the formal news this declination is received, the commodore of the Cornell navy will have in his possession the written confession of the crews of the two great eastern colleges acknowledging the superiority of our eight Yale's refusal to row is, however, one of the most unsportsmanlike acts ever known in the world of intercollegiate athletics Yale claims the championship of American colleges in boating. By all laws, written and unwritten, the champion of any branch of athletics is always bound to accept any challenges to that title, and a failure to do so entails loss of championship honors.
"The failure to accept Cornell's challenge does not confess or acknowledge the superiority of Cornell's crew, and has nothing to do with that question. For their action in this matter Harvard and Yale have reasons which seem to them sufficient, and neither their acceptance nor their refusal to accept the challenge would or could have any bearing on the ability of Cornell's oarsmen. If Swarthmore college, which never rowed a race, should challenge Yale and be refused, would that refusal be a written confession of the superiority of the Swarthmore eight?
"By the way, Cornell, claiming to have in her possession written acknowledgements of the superiority of her oarsmen over those of Yale and Harvard, will certainly not continue to browbeat her inferiors, and try to force a match race on the small boys of New Haven and Cambridge. Undoubtedly the superior oarsmen of Cornell will seek races with their equals if such can be found.
"Yale's refusal to row a match with Cornell is not most unsportsmanlike, nor more unsportsmanlike, nor at all unsportsmanlike. Yale's aquatic ambition has for many years been limited to her annual match with Harvard, and her occasional races with other colleges have been unsought, and fairly thrust upon her. Yale has never made any overtures or expressed any desire for a match with Cornell, and it would be much more justifiable to call Cornell's challenge impertinent than Yale's refusal unsportsmanlike.
"To state that 'Yale claims the championship of American colleges in boating' is to state a deliberate falsehood. Yale last held the championship in 1873; lost it to Columbia in 1874; has not held it since; has not claimed it since; does not now claim it, and probably never will claim it. The 'championship of American colleges in boating' lapsed with the death of the National Rowing Association of American colleges in 1876, and as Cornell won that championship in 1875 and 1876, the title, if it has not died of old age, must still rest with her oarsmen. In making this statement we have not forgotten that an alleged intercollegiate rowing association held regattas in 1883 and 1884, received its death blow in an unseemly squabble on Lake Quinsigamond in 1885, and died of inanition during the summer of 1886. It would hardly be fair to dignify these minor contests by crediting their winners with championship honors; but if it be done, then Bowdoin won the last championship of American intercollegiate rowing, and is the present holder by default."