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Athletics vs. "Athleticism" is the latest product of Chicago's President Hutchins, who may in turn be called either public-spirited or publicity-spirited, depending on one's views, "Athleticism," he says, "attracts boys and girls to college who do not want and cannot use a college education." And although there are rather few institutions which make a practice of going out and hiring a topnotch feminine field hockey aggregation, there is, nevertheless, a lot of truth in this new attack on athletic over-emphasis. Let us use two colleges as examples, both of them institutions which are not mentioned by Mr. Hutchins.
Last year Pittsburgh had a sit-down strike against post-season games; this year its Freshman team was incensed at the lackadaisical manner in which their tuition was cared for. Now the college wants to go simon-pure. At Notre Dame an enterprising student recently issued a pronouncing gazeteer so that the public might become better acquainted with the far-flung "fighting Irish." But Mr. Hutchins says that only a handful of students are in big-time college football; Notre Dame combats this by acquiring plenty of players. They used eighty-eight men in one game, four Irish and eighty-four others.
There are also some statements which Mr. Hutchins makes which are not true. He declares that an athlete may be led to believe that whatever is done on the field, including slugging, is "done for the sake of alma mater," that the "habits of fair play" may be acquired as easily from studying as from sports. The slugging is a typical case of Hutchins' exaggeration. As for the fair play, there is no question that the kind of pressure afforded by big-time football is an education for everyone concerned, from the regulars and the scrubs and the band and the managers and the hangers-on down to the cheering section.
This is no plea for bigger-time football. But there can be a balance between the football of Pittsburgh and Notre Dame and the football of the dime admission, which Mr. Hutchins advocates. It is just this happy medium at which Harvard is attempting to arrive through having on the one hand a decent amateur football team and on the other an endowment plan. This endowment plan will in the future mean that Harvard's athletic program will not depend solely on up and down football gate receipts. The plan is an infant now, but an infant with giant possibilities.
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