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Soaking Up the Bennies

By Bennett H. Beach

When the Dovells created the Bristol Stomp in the late fifties, they probably never anticipated the rapidity with which it was to vanish from the popular scene. Likewise, those who started the freshman intramural program at Harvard were probably of the opinion that it would last forever and ever. But if the participation continues to grow at its present negative rate, soon there will be no organized program of intramurals for first-year students.

In a bulky 12-page annual report on this year's results, respectfully submitted by Floyd Wilson, director of such affairs, a table showed that freshman participation reached an 11-year low. For almost every sport, the number of participants had declined so that the total for the three seasons was 1333. This number, however, is greater than the total number of participants because if a persons competes in three sports, for example, he has been included three times in the figure of 1333. From 1958 to 1962, the rates hovered consistently around 1900. Then, for a four-year period, the numbers were all around 2300, reaching a high of 2470 two years ago. The participation of the class of '71, however, dipped to 1621, a 50 per cent drop. This year it's even worse. Unfortunately, there seems to be no reason to expect a turn upwards.

Your Basic Vince Lombardi

The problem is that there are just not that many people who are eager enough to go out to play some semi-organized sport. Mike Sherman, athletic secretary of champion Greenough, suggested that proctors ought to show more concern with the program and encourage people to participate, as well as helping out the athletic secretaries. A big factor, Sherman said, was the persistence of the athletic secretary. In Sherman's case, this persistence borders on fanaticism, and a colleague of his called him "the Vince Lombardi of freshman intramurals." Way to go, Mike.

Bob Gerlach, coordinator of such activities in second place Wigglesworth West, felt that some guys wanted to go at it in a very professional way, while others just wanted to go out and have fun. This conflict of purposes tended to cut down participation. Gerlach also thought that the organization left something to be desired. Sometimes, schedules would appear two days before the games were to be played. And once, when some Wigg. West individuals went down to Weld boathouse to sign up for the singles, the lists were just nowhere to be found.

Probably another reason for the program's failures has been the lack of space devoted to the contests in the CRIMSON. This difficulty arises from lack of space and, especially, a scarcity of people to do the writing. The erstwhile Mr. Sherman, consternated by the situation, sent the CRIMSON a scathing letter in the fall. In replay to a subsequent request by this newspaper, he sent us a list of athletic secretaries, double-spaced, to facilitate communication with these valuable sources of information. I imagine we regret the fact that after that we were still unable to increase coverage.

It's sad to think that the program is folding so quickly. I wonder if Floyd Wilson, now in Lebanon on a State Department job to teach the children there basketball and other sports he knows, ever sits back and worries that soon the freshmen might not participate. Perhaps they could be absorbed into the much more successful house program. It's sad because every year there are a great many students in the freshman class who have considerable athletic ability. They were often valuable members of teams in high school but, with the abundance of athletic stars at Harvard, cannot make the intercollegiate teams here. Also, many just do not have time for such a demanding activity because of other interests. Intramurals can serve a valuable function for these students who enjoy athletics, but who, for various reasons, are not involved with intercollegiate squads. They also provide a good way to meet classmates.

The Tragedy of P.T.'s

There is also the issue of exercise. The University feels that a freshman should be out for a workout of sorts twice a week. But they devised the system of P.T. coupons, which are at least as much of a joke as parietal hours. It is undeniably possible for anyone who wished to avoid this exercise to have someone else turn in coupons for him. Or one could simply turn in a coupon at the IAB for example, and just walk out the door. In no way do P.T.'s enforce the rule.

Intramurals are the perfect way for freshmen to meet the P.T. requirement. But if a student would rather not do anything physical, sex excluded, it should be his choice, and apparently, many freshmen would prefer to do nothing along these lines, and there are doing nothing. It seems a bit pathetic that someone could just let his body vegetate, but it probably doesn't seem pathetic to those that are physically vegetating. And that's the way everything else is at Harvard. The decision is up to the individual. If a student wants to pad his butt, let him. P.T. coupons are an unjustified attempt to direct a student's activities. Aside from the matter of justification, these coupons just do not work and the athletic department is foolish to persist with this system. If those in charge consider the situation for a moment, they will decide that this year's freshmen will be the last to use .P.T.'s.

Five Championships for Greenough

Though the intramural program limped through the year, with more forfeits than ever, there is, in fact, some activity worth mentioning. Greenough jumped off to a fast point lead and maintained its top ranking throughout. Championships in touch football, cross country, tennis, softball, and basketball were all earned by Greenough. Wigg. West and Massachusetts, under the direction of Emile Godfrey, captured most of the other titles, but as Sherman said, "After we won the basketball, we were pretty sure no one could stop us." It is reported that Sherman "goes wild dragging kids out there," and this probably accounts for most of his dorm's success. Grays, last year's champion, dropped to eighth, traditional jock-dorm Holworthy fell to tenth, and little Lionel owned the cellar in final points totals.

There is not much consensus of opinion about what ought to be done to revive freshman intramurals. Undoubtedly, many people couldn't care less. One suggestion is to change into units larger than the dormitory so as to decrease the number of forfeits. This seems clumsy. There is little question that there could be an improvement in organization through the efforts of all involved--athletic secretaries, proctors, Floyd Wilson, and Rufus Peebles. And somehow interest must be stirred up. Perhaps more promotion, including press coverage, would help in that direction. At any rate Wilson and his advisors, if there are any, had better take stock of the situation and then take action because a good intramural program is worth having.

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