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To the Editors of the Crimson:
GENTLEMEN: - My attention was arrested by a letter in your paper from Mr. Arthur Brewer on the subject of the last action of the Faculty on the question of intercollegiate football, a copy of which letter appeared in a New York daily. The commendable spirit which Mr. Brewer shows in advising quiet acquiescence in the vote of the Faculty, on the ground that age is wise and youth is foolish, is a new and strange thing to find in an undergraduate. But tenderly as this budding humility should be fostered, the crisis that has suddenly come in the life of the sport of football makes it desirable that all the friends of the game, - among whom the undergraduates are the most compact and enthusiastic body, - should fight for the game sturdily and without yielding, even if the growth of this seemly undergraduate modesty be checked. For the question is not alone between the Faculty and the students; it is besides, between the Faculty and a very large body of graduates, many of them old and some of them experienced. The feeling among the alumni of this city, with whom I have come in contact, is that the present evils in the game of football are in no wise an essential part of the sport, and can, therefore, be eradicated by some such means as those proposed by Mr. Emmons. It is believed that the Faculty is acting most inadvisably in adopting such drastic measures against the game as the vote recently reported indicates. The abolition of intercollegiate contests in football for Harvard means that the game will die so far as that college is concerned. The results that followed the forbidding of games with other colleges in 1885, are a sufficient proof of that to those who have seen Harvard's long, hard struggle to get back to equality with Yale. If it is the purpose of the Faculty to kill the game at Harvard, the means taken will prove most effective.
It was thought by those who were in the midst of the agitation over this question of the advisability of intercollegiate contests in athletics, which culminated in the appointment from the Faculty of Dr. Hart's Committee, and in the putting forth by that committee of its admirable report on the subject; and by those who watched the struggle of the college authorities to fairly guide and control athletics through the offices of advisory committees and what not, that the final net result of this process, the present committee of athletics, had been formed in the light of the experiences gained; that this committee so formed and vested with full power, would govern wisely and without prejudice; and that, above all, the erratic "interference of the Faculty" was forever a thing of the past. Alas, vain hope!
To us who must form our judgment at this distance from headquarters, the Committee on Athletics seems to have fulfilled the highest expectations that were held of it. It is therefore most puzzling that, at the juncture when the experience of the gentlemen who compose the committee must be of especial value, - on account of which very experience, presumably, they were made members of the committee, - the authority they have exercised with such excellent judgment, should be snatched away from them. The proceeding strikes me as a most extraordinary one; but a gentleman who is more familiar with the kind of influences that move Faculties, assures me that the following clipping furnishes an adequate explanation (God save the mark!) of the recent vote:
"THE LAST STRAW."It is claimed that the [Harvard] Faculty became gradually more and more disgusted when they saw that the alumni of a great university like Yale could not have an annual gathering without devoting every speech to an athletic sport, to the absolute exclusion of all reference to their alma mater as an institution of learning. This feeling had become very strong when, at the meeting four weeks ago, an incident happened which was the last straw.
"One of the most respected and scholarly members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences is a Yale graduate, who has been teaching at Cambridge for a good many years. At the meeting referred to, when the matter of playing football games on college grounds only was brought up, this Harvard professor, who is also a Yale man, made a speech in which he said that at the recent Yale alumni dinner at the Exchange Club in Boston, every speaker, no matter what was the subject of his toast, had spoken on football. He added that, although during the year one of the most famous professors at the New Haven university had died, not one allusion was made to his memory or his great learning. He concluded his speech with a statement that he left that dinner ashamed that he was a Yale man. These remarks had such an influence on the members of the Faculty present that this vote was immediately passed. - Cambridge despatch to the Sun."
Yale, as usual, is our undoing.
The Committee on Athletics has, the report comes to us, faith in football, and believes that the evils of which so much just complaint is heard, can, if a conscientious effort is made to effect the desired reforms, be eradicated from the game. If, on the other hand, after a fair trial, such a result is not accomplished, but football and its abuses are found to be inseparable, the committee, we are told, says the game must go. In this position the committee has the hearty support of every lover of football. A fair trial is what is asked. It is hard to believe that even the Faculty intends, against the expressed conviction of its able Committee on Athletics, to deny the game this right. If, however, as seems to be the case, the Faculty intends to do this injustice, it behooves undergraduates to forget for a time the worth of a chastened spirit, and, conscious of a right cause, to fight for football vigorously and without resting.
Yours truly,IRVING RULAND '89.
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