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To the President of the University:
Sir, As Chairman of the Committee on the Regulation of Athletic Sports, I have the honor of reporting on Harvard athletics in 1911-12.
Besides the Chairman, the Committee contained, as Faculty members, Dean Hurlbut and Acting Secretary Wells; as graduate members, Dr. E. H. Nichols, Mr. R. F. Herrick, and Mr. G. R. Fearing, Jr.; as undergraduate members, Mr. H. de Windt, Mr. A. M. Goodale, and Mr. H. L. Gaddis. In the latter part of the year Mr. de Windt was succeeded by Mr. R. S. Potter.
To facilitate business and to avoid unnecessary meetings, the Committee voted:
That Mr. Edgar Wells be appointed Vice-Chairman of this Committee and that the Chairman and Vice-Chairman, or either of them, be vested with all the authority of the Committee over the control of athletics in the following matters:
1. In all matters appertaining to qualification for participation in athletic sports.
2. In all matters affecting intercollegiate contests, expressly including the schedules for games and other contests, and the time and place for them, and including all matters relating to admissions to games and other contests and to distribution of tickets therefor.
3. The control and management of all receipts and expenditures on account of athletics.
Obviously this vote gave the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman large powers and might be so interpreted as to do away with all other members of the Committee. It was not so interpreted, however. All matters of importance were referred to the Committee except in such emergencies as compelled the officers to act quickly.
Use of Finances in Past Year.
In 1911-12 the best spent money was used in reclaiming six more acres of the Soldiers Field. In general, money is well spent when it increases opportunity for exercises among all students, or relieves all students of subscriptions; it is spent less well--some think it is spent ill--in the preparation of comparatively few men for single great contests, in costly journeys to the scenes of those contests, in prolonged use of the training table, and in some other things which college athletics as now conducted demand. On the other hand, without the great contests there would be less money to spend; and there is, I suppose, some question whether contests without elaborate preparation would be regarded as great. In this question something may be learned from the game between the Army and the Navy, which rivals in interest the game between Yale and Harvard:
"At West Point," says the Yale News, "where the daily practice lasts about forty-five minutes, Yale Football Teams have twice in succession been out-
played, out-fought, and sent home--branded with defeat. A team of Army men, who find rest from strenuous labor in playing the game--who do not pretend to supremacy in it--have thus, more than Harvard and Princeton together, tarnished our football reputation."
Since the opportunity for students to use the Harvard swimming tank in the Y. M. C. A. Building revived and justified the desire for a swimming team, the Committee voted to allow the formation of a University Swimming Team for the year 1912-13 under certain conditions.
It is worth noting that the champion tennis player of the University is the first scholar of his class.
The Major Sports.
In the major sports the teams had only moderate success. In rowing Harvard failed, as usual, to win from Cornell, and again won from Yale. In track athletics Harvard won the dual meets with Dartmouth and Yale, but made no remarkable score in the intercollegiate games. In football the speed and aggressiveness of Princeton proved too much for a Harvard team with several disabled players. Yale and Harvard played once more a tie game with no scoring. In baseball Harvard succumbed to both Princeton and Yale. When the size of Harvard University is considered and her enormous outlay on athletic sports, it would seem that she should win more of the great games; but since her University teams contain neither Freshmen nor members of any graduate or professional school, the number of men available for these teams is smaller than the public supposes. As to the enormous outlay on teams, I am not sure that it has increased the chance of victory, and I am sure that it has damaged some players. In certain things related to athletic games the College should spare no expense; for example, she should studiously and at any cost reduce the danger to life and limb. On the other hand, the College should not watch her athletics with that kind of care which leads them to think their nervous systems the most significant thing in life and luxurious living a matter of course. A boy poor when he comes and poor when he goes gets a bad start in the struggle for a living if he has learned to regard limited trains, costly food, automobiles on the slightest provocation, and free entertainment in hours of leisure and refreshment as due from the world to him. In theory most persons favor economy; but in applying the theory to any one team, committees, coaches, managers, players, and captains have often been inclined--quite naturally--to consider everything before economy and to rely luxuriously on the great sums collected at games as more than covering the bills. What I have just said, though general, is by no means universal. Instances of courageous effort to keep expenses down are not infrequent among managers, and may at times be discerned even in captains and coaches. Moreover, there has been marked improvement in these matters within a very few years. The use of automobiles has been cut down; the waste in supplies has been diminished; and, in the present year, the cost per student at the football training table has been made altogether reasonable, with no sings of disaster to the team.
The Dates in Class Day Week.
The dates of the boat-race and the baseball games have been disturbed by changes in the dates of Class Day and Commencement Day. In 1911, when Commencement was a week earlier at Yale than at Harvard, the Yale crew waited a week after everything at New Haven was over--a delay manifestly disadvantageous to Yale graduates, if not to the crew itself. In 1912, Commencement at Harvard was moved to the day following Commencement at Yale. Within a single week Class Day at Yale comes on Monday, Class Day at Harvard on Tuesday, Commencement at Yale on Wednesday, Commencement at Harvard on Thursday. The friends and graduates of Yale regarded a game of baseball at New Haven on Tuesday as almost essential to graduation week; the friends and graduates of Harvard regarded a game at Cambridge in close connection with Class Day, but not on that day, as almost essential to the festivities of the season. Neither college might fitly have the game in its own territory on its own Commencement Day. As a result the first game was played at New Haven on Tuesday, and the second at Cambridge on Wednesday, the Harvard Seniors in the team sacrificing their Class Day, the Yale Seniors their Commencement Day, and both teams undergoing two contrasts with no day between. This last consideration is not so important as members of a defeated team are disposed to think it. I question whether the strain of anticipation is not fully as great as the strain of reality, and whether it is not just as well to play these two games without a longer interval. The need of two pitchers in a team that may have one or none is a more serious drawback. Except for the players the dates were unquestionably the best; and, compared with the total number of interested persons, the players are few.
The boat-race was rowed on Friday, the first day after Commencement at Harvard and the second day after Commencement at Yale. This date leaves Thursday an off day in the Yale festivities. Thus the proposal of Friday, coming from Yale, was not merely fair but generous, a courtesy which Harvard men should appreciate. The dates were settled without a suspicion of friction between the Colleges, and settled by men who did not question, outwardly or inwardly, each other's sincerity. This would seem, and should be, a matter of course; my excuse for mentioning it is its inexcusable novelty.
Last year several of the larger colleges made a distinct effort to prevent "yapping" on the baseball field, and achieved considerable success; but umpires still fall to enforce the rules which limit the remarks of players; and student players, who get their training directly and indirect from professional players, are constantly tempted to do what they know to be done-- and done without censure--by the heroes of the American and National Leagues. We like to belive that recent Harvard teams, though by no means perfect, have honestly tried to resist such temptations and to play a clean game
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