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Our Mr. Parker, reporting the game between Harvard and Centre College, calls attention to a fact that has been rather disagreeably noticeable for a long time. A large element of the spectators as distinguished from the student body manifested a most unpleasant and ill-bred hostility toward the Harvard team.
Mr. Parker observes that they applauded Centre not so much because they loved Centre more, but Harvard less, and he supports this conclusion by citing the fact that when any penalty was imposed upon Harvard or anything happened that was disagreeable to Harvard, the applause was just as great as it was for the achievements of Harvard's opponents.
Now, Harvard is a home team. She is one of our greatest Massachusetts institutions. She is imbedded even in the Constitution of Massachusetts. The founding of Harvard was one of the first great works of our earliest forefathers. She has never failed us in any of our great crises.
Much of the ill-feeling toward Harvard by those in the neighborhood of Harvard who have not attended the University, arises out of the assumption that Harvard is reactionary and snobbish--particularly in her athletic sports.
There was a brief period in Harvard's career, some 20 years back, when this might have been said with considerable truth. But Harvard paid the bill in full by a long series of humiliating defeats and she learned that she could not play her hothouse plants and society men against teams from Yale and elsewhere selected upon a democratic basis. For many years now she has abandoned that old folly.
And it must not be forgotten that at no great crisis of American history has Harvard failed the nation. During the Revolution when those of wealth and position among the colonies were all "Loyalists" or "Tories," it was before the president of Harvard that our patriotic forefathers knelt on the college grounds at midnight to hear him say the prayer for victory, before they marched to Bunker Hill. It must not be forgotten that before our Civil War the influential, financial element of New England sympathized with the slave holders and was very much against the anti-slave holders and was very much against the anti-slave agitators. If anybody doubts where Harvard was in the Civil War, let him go to Memorial Hall in Cambridge and look at the list of those Harvard students and alumni which fought to preserve the Union. In no institution of any character, we venture to say, was the percentage greater of those qualified to serve who served. It was the same in the Spanish War and in this last war.
Harvard students have never been lacking in sportsmanship and in willingness to respect a visiting team.
Therefore, there is no need to teach the Harvard students sportsmanship by overdoing the applause to the visiting teams and by showing a mean spirit towards Harvard. --Boston American.
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