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Root Hog or Die!

THE PRESS

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

Harvard always has seasoned athletics with a good measure of common sense, but the Cambridge attitude was never better expressed than in William J. Bingham's remarks to the freshman class a night or two ago. 'During the year," the director of athletics said, "we shall engage in no less than 375 intercollegiate games. The prestige of the college does not depend on any of these contests...No one will accuse you of having 'poor spirit' if you prefer to spend Saturday afternoon at the library rather than to attend a football game. No coach will urge you to play any game for the glory of dear old Harvard.'"

This sane point of view may seem beyond need of comment, but there are hundreds of American college alumni now living who heard nothing like it during their undergraduate days. Twenty years ago at almost any Eastern college the head coach exhorted the incoming freshman somewhat as follows: "Now remember, it isn't enough to attend every game. No matter whether or not you can play any football, you fellows--all of you--be down at the field each afternoon to watch the practice. Show that team you're behind it every minute of the season!" And when the coach had said his say, the football captain recited the same gospel with equal emphasis, and the president of the senior honor society told it again for extra measure. Thereafter, punctually at 3.30 P.M., even on the best autumn days, scores of freshmen who ought to have been securing exercise of their own on court or links would be down at the football field watching other men exercise. As for spending the afternoon of a game in the library rather than on the grandstand, this was considered a crime worthy of social capital punishment, even when committed merely as an isolated or very occasional offense.

But Bingham spoke from sounder ground when he stated the Harvard policy, and Captain Benjamin Ticknor, the varsity's all-American center, supported him. It is the Harvard idea to get along without rah-rahism. Let men take up a sport because they like it, see the good of it, and wish to contribute of their best to it. On that basis, as Ticknor rightly said. Harvard's athletes have always shown on the field a remarkable amount of team spirit. But the idea that spectators can win games by the intensity of their gaze and the power of their lungs is not exalted at Harvard, firstly, because such pressure does not seem an especially admirable test of inward spirit, and secondly, because the idea that games can be so won is ninetenths a fallacy. Boston Transcript.

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