President Conant and Athletic Director Bingham are trying to divorce athletics from football receipts with their newly established athletic endowment policy. In essence, they want to build up over a period of years a fund of several million dollars which will support in entirely Harvard's sports program.
No one has any illusions over the difficulties which lie in the path of such a policy. Its early stages depend on favorable H. A. A. budgets; its later stages depend on the active cooperation of alumni. But even an adequate fund will prove a useless boomerang if Harvard's traditional competitors, Yale and Princeton, fail to attack the vicious circle.
Intelligent alumni of these three colleges demand the integrity of minor sports and of less profitable major sports, such as crew and baseball. These are so essential to the welfare of the undergraduate that they cannot be abandoned. Consequently, in lieu of any other proposal these colleges have turned to football receipts as their fairy godmother.
Football has reacted to this responsibility in a very understandable manner. It has sought the center of the spotlight; it has purchased good material; and it has placed a thoroughly unnatural and undesirable emphasis on the whole sport.
These are the characteristics of so-called "big-time" football which have incurred the worry of men like Messrs. Conant and Bingham. Neither they nor the majority of Harvard undergraduates want to relegate football to an inconsequential position. Excellent coaching, training, and facilities are the prime requisite of any sport. Nor do they want to impair the delight and interest in football contests, such as the one today.
They only want to relieve football of an unfair responsibility which leads to undesirable evils. Harvard is in no position to accomplish this task alone. Princeton and Yale must meet this situation unflinchingly and take constructive action, such as Harvard's new endowment policy.