To the Sports Editor:
Daniel Gil's December 7th article on the Harvard men's soccer team is in itself, to quote his headline, "a sad, familiar tune." After five years at Harvard and a 26-33-9 record, it is questionable why the Harvard men's varsity soccer program has to be George Ford's way to "learn how to relax with his players." It is regrettable that Mr. Gil could not find it in himself to take a more substantive stance on this issue.
There is no doubt that Ford is extremely knowledgeable about soccer. There is, however, a real question regarding his ability to coach a Harvard team and to deal with his players in a way that will gain their efforts and their respect. Over Ford's tenure, numerous fine soccer players, including an all-Ivy selection and many of the foreign players, have rejected the soccer program as an enjoyable and meaningful part of their Harvard years.
Typical of Ford's reign at Harvard is the team's victory over Yale this year. Having played almost none all year, one player was brought off the bench in the last ten minutes of the game. This reflected Coach Ford's policy that each team member would get in the Yale game. When this player went on to score the winning goal of the game with ten seconds left to play, it took Ford three days to even talk to the guy, let alone congratulate him.
Even Ford's administrative responsibilities are a mess. After repeated attempts and messages to Coach Ford both at his office and his home, one promising prospective freshman recently ended up talking with Bob Scalise, head woman's coach, because 60 Boylston could not locate a member of the men's staff.
Despite such a less than professional appearance, Harvard, if not Ford, has been able to attract a most impressive array of soccer talent. Each year, the caliber of the Harvard soccer program has kept pace with, if not outpaced, the majority of the schools it plays. There is yet to be a team that has proved this on the field.
Harvard's men's soccer is a disgrace, and the successful women's program only serves to emphasize this fact. It has all the flash of a first class program, but the results do not come because Ford is a lot of empty rhetoric. In addition, every year the program drops players who simply refuse to deal with a coach they find neither understanding nor a winner.
If this man were the varsity football coach, it is likely that he would have been gone two years ago. Instead, because people like Mr. Gil write wishy-washy articles, it is mainly Ford's players, who have to continue to play for him, who know what he is really like as a coach.
If Yale can remove its inadequate former soccer coach, Bill Killen, we should be able to find somewhere to place Mr. Ford. Harvard owes its players, and itself, a new face at the helm of the men's soccer program. --Scott D. Malkin '80