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Ever since its publication last September, the Presidents' agreement between Harvard, Yale, and Princeton has faced a ring of hostile fire. If the attacks had been made in the open, they could have been silenced as fast as they came up. But to a large degree they have formed a guerilla warfare of innuendo, of sniping from behind chimneys. The shots themselves have not been destructive, but coming apparently from nowhere, they have been successful once or twice in causing mutual suspicion in the three camps.
In a good many cases these hidden attacks can be traced to the professional sporting writers and they are largely responsible for the wrong interpretations put upon Dean Briggs's recent report.
The hostility of the sporting writers is natural enough. The Presidents' agreement threatens their bread and butter because it is a blow at the growing commercialism and publicity of college athletics. Also, any rumored "split" between the so-called "Big Three" makes much better "copy" than any ungarnished summary of the athletic affairs of Harvard University.
Once this hostility is aroused it can be very successfully expressed as is shown in the present instance. An accidentally misplaced comma caused weeks of argument on Article X of the Versailles treaty. There is even less difficulty in stirring up trouble intentionally. Headlines can always be written to read two ways, a report can be garbled, and emphasis can be put on the wrong phrase. The result,--the product of exaggeration and misrepresentation.--will furnish sporting columns with gossip for a fortnight, but it is unlikely to accomplish anything else. The cry of "Wolf! Wolf!" has been raised too often. The relations between Harvard. Princeton, and Yale are too firmly established to lead any one of them to jump at newspaper alarums.
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