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Harvard Football

II. League for Reaction


In the past two years, Harvard has won two football games and lost fifteen. Many of the losses have almost amounted to massacres, and have weakened the team for games against more reasonable rivals. In spite of this, our record against several traditional opponents has not been anywhere near disgraceful. Over-extension, rather than inherent weakness, may be responsible for much of the team's unpleasant record.

One answer to this problem, and the one which the University has projected for the 1952 season, is to play only teams in our own league. This does not mean the Ivy League, nor does it restrict us to local colleges. It is a league of standards, one that includes many of Harvard's traditional rivals, and could take in as many colleges as we wanted to play in other regions.

Within what is called the Ivy League, there is plenty of precedent for not playing games with some of the other members. Pennsylvania has not been on our schedule since the war, Army and Cornell are due to be dropped next year, and there was a long period when Princeton was off the Crimson schedule, partly because of its alleged emphasis on football. Of the other teams, we are on even terms with Brown and Yale, Dartmouth is said to be retrenching its athletic program somewhat, and Columbia has only held a slight edge over us in the past three years.

As for intersectional games, there is nothing to be gained from picking the football "big names" as opponents. Our principal aim in playing Western opponents is to demonstrate to alumni and to prospective students that Harvard has an interest in that region. We cannot hope to compete with strong Western football teams in attracting athletes and it would be folly to try. Playing a team like Washington University may not produce professional-style football on either side, but it can produce a respectable game.

What we need is a "league for reaction," composed of teams that want to stay out of the commercial race. It could have an Ivy League nucleus of four or five teams, and could absorb colleges in any part of the country that wanted to stick to amateur standards. It would be a league of principle, not price, and would give its members the opportunity for a varied and reasonable schedule.

This sort of league could not have the formal, loophole-riddled standards of the present sanity code. It would need only the one rule of amateurism, and an informal desire among the members to follow an amateur policy. How such a policy can be laid out, in terms of admission, scholarships, job opportunities, and alumni recruiting, will be discussed in tomorrow's editorial.

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