To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
The HAA has become such a scapegoat among the local prosportswriters that I feel called on to correct a glaring injustice done the HAA in your editorial of Wednesday, January 5.
The system does not "go like this: a player in a major sport gets his big H even if he sees only 5 seconds of action against Yale," as any member of the track, swimming, baseball, or crew organizations will gladly tell you. Even in basketball and hockey, only a comparatively few men see action unless the contest has turned into a rout. In swimming and track, you not only have to be practically on the first team just to compete against Yale, but you have to score points to earn your letter. The minor sports, then, are hardly the only victims of the present system, which not even Yale uses anymore; and if a minor-sports athlete is breaking all sorts of records, the chances are that he will win one of the League championships and automatically win a major H. The Michigan system which you think should be embraced makes no major-minor distinction. How many old grads, or under-grads, would passively accept a change involving awarding major letters to all Harvard athletes, ranging from yachtsmen to polo players?
My main purpose, however, is to protest against the entire tone of the editorial, which your writer could have corrected by asking a few questions at the HAA. Mr. Bingham and his staff are fully aware of the trouble, which has been brewing for some time and poses a knotty problem, and an informal study (including a poll of former Harvard athletes) was begun last year to seek a solution. Mr. Bingham alerted both athletic committees for future action some time ago.
Your editorial was hardly worthy of the name "responsible journalism." Forbes H. Norris, Jr. '49
(Ed., Note--To give a complete explanation of the award problem would require too much space, since the HAA has scores of reservations and ruling ratifications. In trying to boll down the subject to reasonable size, the editorial in question was obliged to over-simplify in presenting both problem and solution. Even Mr. Norris has failed to mention all the technicalities; for instance, in cross-country, the first three places in the H-Y-P meet receive major letters. It is also true that Mr. Bingham and his staff are currently aware of the problem, but they have been aware of it for many years, and not much has been done.)