Harvard Football

III. Beating the Bushes

Dig deeply enough into the question of football amateurism and it turns out to be mainly a problem of admissions. If no college offered the proverbial convertibles or made special academic concessions to athletes, there would be no football problem.

Harvard does not give football scholarships. The College's position is that it is unfair to a student to give him such a scholarship, since that practically forces him to play football during his four years of college. The College has come to rely on its regular admission procedures to provide it with an adequate proportion of athletes, just as it should provide enough students for any extra-curricular activity.

But since the war, the University has felt that it is not getting its share of the best students from various parts of the country. The name "Harvard" no longer works the magic of yore, and the Administration decided that it would have to get out and compete for students with other colleges if it hoped to keep up its academic standards. Last fall, it took the Varsity Club and the Crimson Key into this program of "beating the bushes," with the specific job of stimulating Harvard Clubs that had not been doing effective work. The aim of the whole program was, and is, to obtain as broad a base of applicants as possible from which the committee on Admissions can make its choice.

Unfortunately, the program turned out to have strong athletic overtones. Many of the meetings sponsored by Harvard Clubs turned into athletic bull sessions, with former players and coaches taking a leading part. The University says that it has no control over the actions of alumni--that it can do nothing if a local Harvard Club would rather show football movies than listen to a speech on General Education. This is a dangerous doctrine. While Harvard's admission policy is certainly not heavily weighted toward football players at the present time, there are other colleges which also started off "unable to control their alumni" and later found themselves unable to control their own admissions policy.

Though the admissions office and the scholarship office both make their decisions and their awards independently, there is still danger in giving the alumni a free rein. If alumni concentrate on good football players, the admissions office will not get its "broad base" and may find it difficult to resist the urgent pleas of active grads.

If football is to be treated as a part of education for the student who is already in the college, then it cannot be considered as more than one extra-curricular activity in the case of students seeking admission. How this proposition, and other outlined in previous editorials, relate to our conception of Harvard football policy will be considered Monday in the last editorial of this series.