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Address of George Walton Green at Pennsylvania Dinner. - Change of Spirit Necessary.


Below we give a transcript of part of an address given by George Walton Green, Harvard '76, of New York, at the Pennsylvania dinner in New York last week. In a letter to the CRIMSON Mr. Green writes: "Those of us here who are deeply concerned for the future of football feel that the only chance of saving the game lies in the recognition of the facts on which I tried to lay stress - that we must encourage better public opinion in college life on the evils that must be eradicated." Mr. Green's remarks on football follows:

"Your football players have a genuine responsibility for the future of the game. Gentlemen, you must put your shoulders to the work; you must lend yourselves in earnest to the effort which has got to be made to improve the spirit of the game if the game itself is to be saved. You must not be afraid to make bold experiments and sweeping changes in the rules. If you are timid, if you are over-conservative, either from negligence or from fear of losing some temporary partisan advantage, the game, with all its splendid qualities, moral and intellectual as well as physical, will have to go. And on your shoulders will fall in large measure the responsibility for its loss.

"I venture to speak in this way, because there seems to be in all football legislation a curious, inherent conservatism, which seems to fear radical changes far more than it fears that brutal spirit which only radical changes, not only in the rules, but in college public opinion itself can possibly cure.

"Our football experts are like the primitive races of man. You recollect how Sir Henry Maine says that all early codes were marked by an inflexible rigidity, because their rules were thought to have come down from Heaven itself. To most football players the suggestion of a radical change in the game seems about as impious as to ask a Priest of Menu to say his prayers without washing his feet.

"We have heard much talk of late about the overwhelming importance which intercollegiate athletics have come to assume in the college world. I am myself one of those who feel that the apotheosis of the athlete has gone too far; he has been set on too high a pedestal. The fault is not with the young men themselves. Indeed, what impresses me the most is, that in spite of all this publicity and laudation they should bear themselves with such becoming and attractive modesty. How is it possible for any young man to see things in their true proportions, to feel that athletic prowess though a fine and praiseworthy thing, is by no means the first and most important thing in college life, when he may read in every newspaper in the land a detailed account of how Williams stubbed his toe, and when he knows there are thousands of people all over the United States anxiously waiting for news of Knipe's sprained ankle? I say it strikes me with admiring wonder to see how modestly you bear yourselves, and how little you seem to be afflicted with that cephalic enlargement which I should think such excessive praise and publicity would be sure to produce. But, gentlemen, you have more and harder work cut out for you. To the honor and credit of your University, you have shown people that a great match can be won without the intervention of the police or the aid of a coroner. Though you have quitted yourselves like men, you have played your game like gentlemen.

"When Henry Adams was teaching Ancient Law at Cambridge in my day, he used to say that one of the inalienable privileges of the early Anglo-Saxon was the right to kill his neighbor. That privilege you have nobly foregone. You have shown that a hard tackle does not necessarily involve, as a matter of conscience and patriotic duty, the breaking of a collar bone; and you left your opponents life enough to finish the game and limbs enough to get back to Cambridge. For this old John Harvard thanks you from the bottom of his grateful heart. But you have something more to do; a harder battle to fight, a nobler victory to win, and I would say to every man upon your team: Your splendid record has laid upon your sturdy shoulders another and a weightier duty. If you are to do a real and lasting service for the cause of athletics, and for your Alma Mater, you must show when you go out from her halls that there are moral and intellectual qualities which your training on the football field has fostered and strengthened. It is for you to show that as your limbs are stronger, so your minds are cleaner, your lives more sweet and wholesome. Then hold up the hands of us older men who believe in college athletics; who think they can be put upon their proper plane, can be pursued in their proper spirit, given their due prominence in college life, and no more.

"And so we say to you: Do your work, live your lives so that the people in every community where your lives are to be lived and your work is to be done; shall say of you - 'Look at that man: He is a faithful worker, unselfish neighbor, loyal friend; a patriotic citizen, a righteous man - and all this, not in spite of the fact, but all the more because of the fact, that he was the longest punter or the hardest tackler on the famous '94 team of the University of Pennsylvania.'"

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