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The casual reader of the papers, seeing the sensation caused by the "fixing" of college basketball games in Madison Square Garden, may wonder why it's so easy to debauch young Americans these days.
The debauching doesn't start, as you might think, with a cigar-smoking, sure-thing gambler shoving a wad of money in the direction of a convertible car-conscious lad old enough to vote . . .
It starts in the office of a college president. Talking to the prexy is the dean, a venerable old crock who has read the college charter and can't find anything in it about sports.
"But sir," says this old relic, "as I understand the matter we've always been in interested in producing educated men of character, proficiency in Latin and other subjects necessary to practice in the ministry and the other professions."
"I'm afraid you're out of date," says the prexy. "For your information, mounting costs have put our budget entirely out of balance and in order to get this year's budget past the trustees, we'll have to find new revenues. Besides, some of our alumni, including some of our biggest donors, are getting tired of being kidded at the Down Town Club about how badly our basketball teams are doing. We'll have to do something about attracting better--not athletes, of course--but leaders, two-fisted, red-blooded, all-around fellows. Of course, they'll have to pass the examinations, but let's not give all the scholarships to scholars, let's save most of them for the leaders."
"For Brutus is an honorable man,
"So are they all, all honorable men."
The scene shifts to the home of a high school student. He is being interviewed by a famous all-time, All-American of the same college we're talking about.
"Sure," says the All-American. "I can understand why you want to go to Stevens Institute of Technology. You want to be an engineer, but they haven't got any big-time sports there, and if you can get past the entrance exams, you'll have to wash dishes, stoke furnaces and damn near starve to get by. Now, if you come to my place, we'll give you free room, board, and tuition, a good job in the summer and enough spending money so you'll never have to take your girl home in the subway or even a taxi. You'll have your own car. Engineering? Well, no, we haven't any engineering course, but our mechanical drawing and commercial art is practically the same thing . . .
We next move into the office of the college's director. The "kid," over 20, comes in and asks about his "benefits" for the college year.
"Sorry," says the athletic director. "I can't do anything for you. My job is to arrange the schedules, hire coaches and preside over the intramural program. But if you're looking for scholarship aid, the man you want to see is Dean Sturdley; if you're looking for exemptions on your admission requirements, the man you ought to see is Dean Wunderbar; and if you're looking for a job, we have a great student employment agency here, headed by John Q. Overture.
"Yes, of course, I've heard of you as a great athlete, and I'm glad you've enrolled here, but my job has nothing to do with getting you in, keeping you in, or finding you jobs. I hope you make it, O.K.; I did when I was about your age, though it was pretty tough and sometimes I couldn't show up for the football games because I was selling my blood to a local hospital."
A week later, this particular athletic director resigned. The man who took his place was acclaimed as a "practical man," one who understands the qualities of the American competitive system and who could tell the difference between a scholar and an American with leadership qualities.
When the district attorney moved in, everyone was washing his hands of the whole affair. They wondered how American kids could sell out so cheaply . . . --From the Boston Globe, February 21
The writer of the above is a member of the Overseers' Visiting, Committee on Athletics, night managing editor of the Boston Globe, and a former president of the CRIMSON.
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