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Roll On, Jordan


In recent weeks, Coach Lloyd Jordan has made several statements concerning the place of athletics in general, and football in particular, in American education. Since he is coach of the Harvard football team, and since Harvard has been undergoing an athletic spasm of sorts, his remarks have been widely noted. And they have been noted in a way that has created considerable confusion as to just where Jordan stands in relation to Harvard's official football policy.

Jordan speaks of "recruiting" and "subsidization" in a sympathetic way. He says that by "recruiting" and "subsidization" he does not mean the twin evils that college administrators, in their current fits of righteousness, have been decrying and declaiming against, but simply the normal processes by which colleges attract and maintain a good student body. If that is all he means, then Jordan has made a regrettable choice of works.

A scholarship is certainly a subsidy, in the dictionary definition, just as attraction of good students is a kind of recruitment. But when a football coach uses words like "subsidy" and "recruit," they might well mean a lot of other things to Harvard alumni who have been activated into seeking good students in their area, or not-too-bright football players who think this Harvard place might be worth trying. It would be most disappointing if alumni and prospective students were misled by Jordan's stated policies, almost as disappointing as if the popular sort of "recruiting" and "subsidizing" became the order of the day.

"Some college administrations look upon football as the tail which wags the dog," said Jordan. "Administrators don't realize that the tail can't wag the dog if the head controls the tail." We hope that through all this canine metaphysics, Jordan is trying to say that athletics must be kept in their proper place as a small part of college education, and not a business or a prestige item. It would be nice, though, if he would reaffirm this clearly every time he speaks on the subject, to prevent people from getting the wrong idea. Football policy is a rather ethereal thing, and a good deal more depends on the attitude with which it is approached than with the official, formal setup for administering scholarships and admissions procedure.

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