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"Why Athletics Cost so Much"


The following article by Mr. W. F. Garcelon L.'95, Graduate Treasurer of Athletics, is reprinted by permission from the current number of the Graduates Magazine:

A person who does not understand the amount of detail involved in the conduct of twenty or more teams taking part in intercollegiate athletics is astonished to find that the expenses in connection with athletics at Harvard during the year 1909-10 were $127,945, or about $425 a day for ten months of the year. The charge of extravagance naturally follows such an exhibit of figures. Doubtless there is a considerable amount of money spent unnecessarily each year. A steady effort is being made, however, to curtail foolish expenditures and to spend the income of the association where it will accomplish most for the good of the University. A complete analysis of all the expenses during the past few years would demand more space than is available. A few facts about the finances of the association are herewith presented.

The colonnade was added to the Stadium, a year ago, at an expense of about $44,000, the class of '79 paying $25,000, and the Athletic Association assuming the balance. The $19,000 was actually paid, by the Corporation, and the association is to repay the amount in sums not exceeding $5000 a year. The first payment was made last fall, leaving a present debt of about $14,000. The permanent payroll, including coaches, trainers, ground keepers, janitors, boat men, and the office force, is over $35,000. There are about 30 men regularly emblorsil in connection with all branches of athletics, although during the football season, and during the month of June, the number is increased. During the year 1909-10 the amount paid for labor and wages in the care of buildings and grounds was $6296; for maintenance and repairs, $1236; for heat, $1150,; for insurance, $1020; and for water, $651. To the General Account is charged the office expenses, the salaries of those connected with the office, and all incidental expenses which cannot be properly charged to any special sport. To the item of Permanent Improvements were charged last year labor and cost of filling for the reclamation of about five acres of Soldiers Field, this ground being much needed for scrub games. It is planned to spend practically all of the available surplus each year in reclaiming more of Soldiers Field, and in making other permanent improvements. Among those which it is desired to make are the building of movable steel stands, to be used at both football and baseball games, the building of a steel and concrete covered baseball stand (which would cost between $80,000 and $100,000) and the construction of a swimming-pool, of which there is sad need.

The baseball expenditures in 1908 were $12,526; in 1910, $11,177, a material decrease, due to better arrangement of schedule and more carefully supervised undergraduate management.

The expenses of the crew have advanced from $12,235 in 1908 to $15,480. It must be realized that four crews (more than formerly) now compete regularly with Yale at New London, necessitating the consequent increase in expense.

The football expenses in 1908 were $19,894. In 1909 and 1910 they were approximately $31,000 each year. This large increase is due in part to the salaries and the extra expense of a larger coaching force. In 1908 the bill for supplies was $2937. In 1910 it was $4121. Under the present management the protection of the player is deemed essential. Specially made shoulder-pads and head-guards are very expensive, but are freely provided. The results in the matter of injuries seem to justify the increase. There are slight increases in expense for labor and wages, doctors and rubbing, and in printing. The expense of trainers and coaches in 1908 was $3925; in 1910 $8934. There was no increase in the cost of the training-table. The expense of conducting games increased from $3185 to $5117. The expense of handling applications for football games has increased enormously. It is believed, however, that the results will justify the increased expenditure. More money is spent each year in looking after the comfort and safety of patrons at the big football games.

The expense of the track team has decreased about $1000 in two years. The largest increase in minor sports during the two years has been in lacrosse, which has jumped from $782 to $2273. More men are playing lacrosse, there has been a professional coach, and more careful attention has been given to the players.

There has been an increase in nearly all the minor sports. This has been incurred with a view of increasing the number of men actually taking part in games. The association has taken on control of fencing and wrestling, and has spent a considerable sum in the encouragement of Freshmen who have never participated in athletics.

There has been a marked increase in the expenses of Freshman sports. In 1908 they were $5884; in 1909 $7425; in 1910 $7937. This increase has been mainly in football and track. Better medical supervision and greater safety for the players by the use of head-guards and pads has been the aim in football, the coaches believing that the life of a Freshman is worth as much as that of a Senior.

The expenses in the major sports should not increase. In the minor sports it is likely that they may increase, as more careful supervision is given to those taking part in them, and as more men are induced to take part.

There can be little saving in the care of buildings and grounds, and in the matter of permanent improvements. The general expense account seems large, and may perhaps be reduced somewhat. When it is realized that the $130,000 that comes into the athletic treasury comes mostly in sums of from $1 to $6, and that about $75,000 of this comes within a period of three weeks, it can easily be seen that there is considerable expense involved in properly handling the business of the office.

During the past year the soliciting of subscriptions from students has been abolished entirely, that method of raising mono being considered inequitable, as it was found that most of the money came from Freshmen, and that many boys were contributing sums which they could not afford to give. It certainly seems better, in the absence of any permanent endowment, to raise the necessary money from graduates and other interested persons who are very willing to contribute small sums for admission to games.

It has been urged, and it may be so, that the ideal method would be to have sport endowed, so that there would be no gate receipts, and that admission should be by invitation. There would be an excellent opportunity for some interested graduate to try the experiment by setting aside a sufficient sum to support fencing or wrestling in the University. The cost of fencing instructor and the expenses of the fencing team would not exceed $1000 per annum. As it is now, without the gate receipts from football and baseball, the other teams, including the crew, the track team, and all the minor teams, would be compelled to raise money by subscription or discontinue their activities.

I believe in the contributions of graduates through gate receipts, and in the distribution of the money thus received for permanent improvements, for the extension of activity in the minor sports, and for the beginning of a system of physical training which shall compel every Freshman at least to take a prescribed course, such a course to include not only gymnastics but out of door sports as well.  W. F. GARCELON L.'95,  Graduate Treasurer

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