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If the present activity of the directors of the Debating Council can be taken as more than just stirring embers in a fire that lies on the ashes of its deathbed and presages a genuine revival of interest, the cause of debating at Harvard can take heart. For the Debating Council has come perilously near to allowing the sport to die a slow and lingering death, and any measures that can be adopted to stimulate more general interest come as welcome news to all who care for the argumentative art.
Several causes have been prominent in contributing to the present weakness of the Debating Council. First is the tendency for a few crack debaters to monopolize the large outside contests and leave the less capable orators without an opportunity to exercise their talents. Second comes a lack of participation on the part of those who are only mildly interested, men who, because of an indifferent hierarchy at the top, inadequate organization of meetings, and little or no chance for coaching, have felt it useless to come out. And third, the present excellent coach has been able to give time from his business activities only to the leaders in the important intercollegiate contests.
When things have come to such a stalemate, obviously vigorous reforms are needed if the sport is not to collapse. The proposal already before the Council for a series of lesser debates to take place before local organizations in Cambridge and Boston should stir up outside interest. Further than that there are untapped resources in the Houses that would delight to participate in informal debating, and it is to these men, as well as to total outsiders, that the Council should direct its appeal. And to make the revival endure, a salaried coach, preferably from faculty ranks, will have to be called in and made available to the sharks and the dabblers alike. If the Debating Council can nerve itself for radical and far-reaching reforms along these lines, the danger of passing out will vanish like clouds in the morning before the wind of undergraduate enthusiasm.
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