It has been a tacit understanding on all sides that the game of football has been on trial during the season just ended. The influences that threatened for awhile to abolish the game altogether on account of acknowledged evils which had been incident to it, gave way to the honest assurances of its friends that these evils were only incidental, that they were not inseparably connected with the game, and that a fair trial this year would show that football could still be played by college students and gentlemen.
The ideal of football, as indeed it should be of all our sports, has been admirably expressed by ex-Captain Emmons (in the Graduate's Magazine for March, 1895) in these words: "Let college matches be college matches, for college people, on college grounds." Though Mr. Emmons had in mind the particular evils of "notoriety, publicity and expenditure," in laying down this principle, yet we believe that the departure from it was in large measure the cause of the other abuses. This year, as every one knows, there has been a distinct effort to get back to the more natural condition of things. Let us see how successful this effort has been.
In the first place, football during the season has been distinctly a college game; that is, it has been played in a gentlemanly way by unquestionably college men. Secondly, a greater attempt than ever has been made by the athletic management to limit the attendance to college men, graduate and undergraduate, and their friends. The number of persons who have attended the important games in Cambridge, in much the same way that they would be attracted to a prize fight, has been reduced to a minimum. Thirdly, all of our games have been on college grounds.
The direct effect of these changes has plainly been to do away with much of the notoriety of the big games. While interest has not been at the fever heat of former healthy. Though moderate, it has not been half-hearted. Indirectly, the changes mentioned have their influence in lessening the evils of excessive training and in doing away with brutality. It has been shown that a high grade of team work can be developed without the hard spring and summer practice, and that the game loses none of its interest either for spectators or for players because it is played in a gentlemanly way and without excessive risk.