Since the close of the football season the press of the country has voiced a general demand for revision of the football rules. An undue number of severe injuries and the preponderance of mass plays are the features of the game which are most severely criticised. In the months following the season of 1905 a similar protest caused the Rules Committee to make radical reforms in the game; It seems likely that some changes must also be made this year to meet the expectations of those who are dissatisfied with present conditions.
Such games as those which Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton and Yale play against one another demonstrated that when careful attention is given by physicians and trainers the risk of death or serious injury is not great. It is in the games between these powerful teams and weaker ones, or in games in which the players are physically unfit or the proper medical attention is not given that serious accidents are most likely to happen. In drafting its rules the Committee has to consider not only the big institutions where football is played under the most favorable conditions and where every safeguard in the way of training and the use of substitutes is employed, but also the hundreds of smaller colleges and secondary schools where substitutes are few and trainers' bills must be kept low.
It is for football coaches and players to determine the means by which the danger of injuries may be minimized. Most critics assert that the serious injuries occur in mass plays; if this is true the obvious remedy is to introduce more open play by removing the restrictions which now make the forward pass such an uncertain and desperate expedient. The last game on Soldiers Field showed how seldom this play will be used as long as, it is hedged about by limitations which make it a mere last resource. Such a change would also satisfy those who want a more spectacular contest than the present rules encourage.
To legislate all the danger out of football without changing it into a parlor game is clearly impossible. Nor ought it to be abolished, for as the most popular sport in the colleges and schools it has possibilities greater than those of any other game now used in this country. But some modification of the rules by which the probability of several fatal accidents in each season may be removed ought to be made before next fall.