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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
Bill Bingham and Dick Harlow and the Harvard ideal of teams composed of men who are primarily students and athletes afterward have received their share of fully merited praise from a wildly happy college. The Harvard system of subordinating athletics has been fully vindicated. But in all the post-game delirium there is one group whose part in the great victory is, because of its obvious magnitude, apt to be overlooked.
That group is the team itself. Few students know the actual drudgery that goes into the building of a great gridiron machine. Beginning early in September every man on the squad, and many that did not make the Varsity, worked for over three hours a day in a hard, bruising grind on the practice fields. They worked, and it is the hardest kind of physical labor, for most of the fun is reserved for the Saturday games; and they did more. Their whole lives for the fall months revolve around thoughts only of football. Yet all are required to keep grades as high as students with no activities of any kind; indeed by some, the football players are even watched more suspiciously than scholarship men. Most forms of social life and diversion are automatically given up, and for all this very little praise is meted out during a poor season or even a moderately successful one. It is easy to see why players take their football seriously; if there is to be a winning team, it is the only way.
The great reward, aside from the fun of playing for the game's sake, and that is frequently beaten out of the most ardent devotees of the sport in the first weeks of practice, is the thrill that follows an earned victory. Often this year that thrill was snatched from the team by a run of bad luck, the like which hardened sports writers admitted they had not seen in many years.
But Yale on Saturday made up for it all--the long, lean years, the months of gruelling afternoon work at Soldiers' Field, and the cynicism and the galling smiles that used to be occasioned by the mention of football at Harvard. It was a victory as satisfying as it was deserved, and it was enjoyed by those who sat on the bench the entire afternoon, despite the fact that they had worked just as hard as those who played. For they realized that the coaches owed a greater debt to football at Harvard, than to any individuals personally.
Football at Harvard came into its own early this season, and last Saturday serged to emphasize that fact. There is a great tendency in writing any account of that history making Yale game, to became indiscriminate in hysterical praise. But surely it is not too much to say that the team which has worked patiently under three years of inspired coaching, and has been led by a captain magnificient in his sportsmanship, earned its victory and all the praise that goes with it.
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