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lege spirit" awakened by the organization of an athletic association and the nondescript uniforming of a football team. The library reading ceases altogether or degenerates into a revel in the sporting columns of the newspapers, spiced with admiring study of the brutalized countenances of distinguished sports and toughs. The work of the college literary societies which is, at least, of equal importance with any one line of scheduled college exercises is given but little attention, the sporting tendency deadening all interest in forensic exercises. The college paper, the exponent of student life and thought, holds existence by a slender and constantly weakening thread. The reader looks in vain for thought-suggesting contributions but is confronted with columns of sporting news, reported in bad English and bristling with terms and phrases that suggest plagairism from "the thieves' lingo."
The athletic association, which, under proper organization and control, might do so much for the physical wellbeing of the whole student body, is dominated by a few restless, lawless spirits in whom the animal propensities are thoroughly developed, and its advantages if under existing conditions it can be said to have any are monopolized by just those persons who, physically, have least need of them. A select few, chosen for their capacity to exert brute force, represent the athletic association in the only sport or exercise for which thought is exerted or provision made, and the other members of the organization are crowded into the ranks of the "rooters", with privilege to pay expenses and cheer the contestants with spirited howls and incessant clamor.
That legitimate college work can go on properly under such conditions is impossible, and the fact is well known to every educator of experience, how
ever reluctant he may be to give testimony. The thought of many students is centered more in the doings of the football team than in their lessons. The coming contest is the chief topic of conversation in college halls, and it takes a week of animated talk to explain the cause of a defeat. The games succeed each other in rapid succession. "One woe doth tread upon another's heel so fast they follow." The excitement incident to one contest has not subsided when another event of still more absorbing interest is announced. So it goes on, from term to term, throughout the college year, and the cost is seen in neglected opportunity, poor scholarship, idle propensity, and a low ideal of attainment and duty.
The game of football is not without its worthy apologists worthy, at least, in that their high positions in society or public service give force to statements which from other sources would be laughed to scorn. Some noted heads of colleges and universities damn football with faint praise; others more boldly range themselves under the banner carried by the "bruisers" and "rooters" that take possession of the "gridiron" and its environment. Public officials turn their backs on official duty and dignity to enjoy a sport whose brutal features ought to be as obnoxious to them as the contests of the prize ring or the sickening scenes of the arena in a bull fight tournament. A President finds relaxation from official responsibility in witnessing, under proper chaperonage, an unusually exciting and closely contested football game in Cincinnati. A prospective candidate for that high office dons a "sweater" and evokes tumultuous applause from "the boys", by giving the "pigskin" a vigorous kick as the opening act of a game which was but another advance in the work of demoralizing college life. How pub
lic men, with respectable antecedents, will lower their dignity in the hope of spreading political sails before a favoring breeze! Said a well-known politician and office-holder: "If the risk of football can be lessened, I would favor it, but in any event I believe in foot ball." The amount of faith some people can have, on occasion, in ignoble things is one of the marvels of the times. The only response that comes back to the mild suggestion of the popularity-courting college presidents and public officials that the football game be freed from some of its brutality and danger, is the reply, curt and to the point: "The rules are not in need of modification: they are now practically perfect."
What are an old mother's tears, a sister's fond hopes, or human lives, to "sports" in search of manliness or politicians in quest of office? Thistle or eider down sifted gently on a crocodile's back would make more impress than the entreaties of mothers and sisters upon the brutal natures of professional sports or the cool, calculating dispositions of the average place
Rev. Dr. James R. Day, a Methodist clergyman, and chancellor of Syracuse University, New York, approves of the "gridiron" because "a man who goes through a season of being trodden upon and knocked down deserves fairly a diploma in the art of self-control." Sometimes the diploma takes the form of a funeral notice. The fortitude of some people in bearing the knockdowns and drag-outs of others, is, at times, very touching.
In the next column to that in which the Rev. Dr. expresses his willingness to see college students "developed" by games that contain "necessary elements of roughness and danger" we find an account of a football contest the word game in such connection is a
misnomer-between teams representing Baldwin University and Heidelberg University, the one at Berea, the other at Tiffin, Ohio. I quote some sentences from a report whose reading would glut as insatiate an appetite for blood and bruises as that of the chancellor of Syracuse University. Evidently the "general epidemic of reform", which the chancellor-clergyman looks upon with such misgiving is not strongly in evidence in northern Ohio. "Capt. Reed, of Keene, Ohio, has concussion of the brain and is still unconscious. Fullback Young, coach for Baldwin, is suffering from injuries to the head and is still delirious. The Baldwin men claim that the Tiffin team put in a 'ringer' on the second half, who, after throwing Reed down jumped upon his head. He repeated the performance in the case of Young. Reed remained unconscious and was carried to the train in that condition. After a search of several hours, Young was found wandering about in an alley and taken to a hospital."
In view of such events is it strange that President Elliott of Harvard, in his approval of football as an agency for developing "manliness", should modify his usual transports by using the following language? "Everybody can not play football. (Evidently not, without the design is to give the surgeon, the coroner, or the undertaker all combined a fast-increasing and lucrative business.) It is only the strong and well-built men who can expect to play the game with any degree of success."
Such a statement smacks of truth and gives the lie to the assertion that football exercises, in educational institutions, is needed to invigorate the physical organism of students whom overattention to study is hurrying to premature graves.
An excerpt from a report of a
Thanksgiving game in which Harvard was represented, two or three years ago, fairly bristles with hero-making incidents. Here are some samples: "Wrightington's collar-bone was broken; Hollowell was carried off the field disabled; Murphy lay bleeding and insensible on the ground, the result of a hard punch in the stomach; Brewer was hurt in the first half, but was able to resume play, though subsequently retired by the physician's orders. Just before the game began, George Gray, the Harvard halfback, who broke his leg in a practice game, hobbled down to the line on crutches and received an ovation. The only Butterworth was more severely injured this afternoon than ever before in his foot
ball career. His right eye was almost gouged out in the first half, and he can not see out of it at all."
Under the head of "Thanksgiving Barbarities" the eidtor of Good Health calls the members of the football team "fighting men" and says their so-called game is attended with "barbarities such as are seldom exceeded even in savage lands, and which, in such semi-civilized countries as India, China, and Japan, would be regarded with positive horror and disgust." In the same article, the author quotes from an act of the Scottish Parliament, passed in the reign of James I., (died 1437) prohibiting football: "The ball in this play may be compared to an infernal spirit: for whosoever catcheth it, fareth straightway like a madman, struggling and fighting with those who go about to hold him. It is accompanied with many dangers, some of which do even fall to the player's share; for proof thereof, when the hurling is ended, you shall see them returning home as from a pitched battle, with bloody pates. bones broken and out of joint, and such bruises as serve to shorten their days; and yet all is in good play, and
never attorney nor coroner troubled for the matter."
Another quotation taken from Sir Thomas Elyot's "The Govenour", published in 1531, shows the English game of "foote balle" to be "nothynge but beastly furie and extreme violence, whereof proceedeth hurte."
President Sewall, of the Denver Board of Aldermen, made investigation of football injuries with the following result:
"In the battle of Gettysburg the mortality was three and one-half per cent of those engaged. The figures show, so far as they have been obtainable, that the mortality among football players this year has been four per cent of those engaged in the struggles. These figures include the deaths caused by the game, not the accidents that were only followed by injuries which were not fatal. Advocates of a law against football have the advantage of these statistics, which can not be disputed.”
A newspaper clipping before me contains the following statements:
"A few years ago the Superintendent of the United States Military Academy, at West Point, submitted a report in which he called attention to the injuries received by those engaging in football. It showed that 27 men playing football received 37 injuries: while 198 men exercising in the riding hall received 26 injuries in the same period — three months. The 101 men exercising in the gymnasium in the same period received 10 injuries. The time lost by students on account of injuries was divided this way: Through football, 106 days; through riding, 71 days; through gymnasium work, 58 days."
"The superintendent called the attention of the Board of Visitors to this showing, and testified that the distraction from studies caused by interest in the game was a greater injury than the contusions and sprains he had record
ed, because it affected the entire school. The Board of Visitors made report condemning the match games. The General of the Army (General Schofield, now retired,) made a report on the subject which was laid before the President."
"As a result of the recommendation of the General, considered at a cabinet meeting, an order was issued providing that the Superintendent should make regulations for the game, and that the Military Academy team should not play games away from West Point. A similar order was issued by the Secretary of the Navy concerning the team at Annapolis and that put an end to the West Point-Annapolis matches." This spasmodic effort on the part of government authorities to control football among the military and naval cadets was not far-reaching, as the “Army and Navy Register", for October, 1897, reports the Annapolis Cadets as playing match games of football with a number of teams representing different eastern educational institutions. Some games are reported to be "full of ginger" and cause for laudation is found in the fact that while the cadets stood "the great weight hurled against their lines" without physical injury their opponents "frequently called time for injured players."
The brutalities of football, prize fights, and other delectable sports of the same kidney are no new things under the sun. It is probable that some college football cranks know enough of Greek to read Homer with the aid of a translation. In Book XXIII, of the Iliad, an account is given of the brutal games and sports instituted by Achilles in honor of his dead friend, Patroclus. In a boxing contest, in which the cestus was used, Epeius defeated Eurylaus. The poet describes the condition of the vanquished I use Bryant's translation: "His friends came round
and led him thence with dragging feet and head that drooped from side to side, while from his mouth came clotted blood." The sporting reporters of the newspapers should hasten to familiarize themselves with the contents of the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid, for the authors of these classic works excelled in minute, graphic descriptions of which the quoted passage affords a worthy example.
The hero of ancient wars, recorded in classic tongues, was a brute and a bully. The noble lineage of Achilles did not rescue him from being an inhuman monster who found delight in vile insult to the body of a fallen foe. His ruthless murder of captives is not robbed of its atrocity because committed to honor the funeral rites of a friend.
The value of one's physical strength depends upon the use made of it. Samson had long hair long enough to insure him a captaincy of a football team in these times. He was an expert in handling foxes and firebrands; in wielding jaw bones of asses; in pulling down prisons even in his blindness but Delilah was his undoing. Says Bulwer: "It is rare, indeed, that a great intellect is found in the form of a giant." A bulky frame indicates one thing, a lofty expanse of brow, another.
In our college museum are two busts, one representing a primitive man, the other the intellectual and refined features of the great botanist, Linnaeus. The brutal instincts of the former are glaringly apparent in his massive, coarse, and bestial features. The best that is in man, guided by reason, influenced by sensibility, and held to right direction by will, is represented in the facial make-up of the latter. These forms give an object lesson to every one who looks upon them with attentive in
Football ought to be popular with the students of Baylor University, a
Baptist institution located at Waco, Texas. These recipients of Christian education, at the expense of the pockets of decent people, recently mobbed the editor of "The Iconoclast", a local paper that had charged the authorities of the university with incapacity and the students with immorality. The students' redressing a grievance, real or otherwise, by mob violence fails to convince the public of their innocence, while it does bring more prominently forward the question often suggested in reference to much of our so-called higher education "Is it worth its cost?"
If college halls are to resound with the senseless yells and hoots of a mob of football cranks, if college playgrounds and gymnasiums are to be monopolized by long-haired and bepadded athletes, if the culture of the soul is to be held in abeyance while all brutal, animal instincts are encouraged to run riot, it may well be considered whether the state would not be the gainer by the restriction of higher education, at the public expense, to those who give most promise of profiting by their training. The free-school idea, it would seem, is not a modern thoughtproduct. When the power of Babylon brought Jerusalem into captivity, Nebuchadnezzar spake unto the master of his eunuchs, commanding him to bring certain Israelite youths "in whom was no blemish, but well-favored and skillful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them" that they might be taught the learning and tongue of the Chaldeans. And the king made provision for the maintenance of these youths for three years to the end that they might be prepared by rigorous training for the public service. The survival of the fittest, with limitations, might be made applicable to those ask
ing admission to the state's higher institutions of learning.
Some of the zest with which football is carried on would be lost were excitement, as to results, not intensified by the gambling spirit which is not confined to the professed "sports" but exhibits itself among students themselves and their friends. The tendency of students to stake money on a match game of football, and on other events of a like character, can not be truthfully denied. It is bad enough for one to bet his own money; it is folly bordering on criminality for him to stake money which he holds as an agent. A self-respecting son would not misuse the bounty of his father. For a son to bet away the money his parents provide for his education, is another way to evince manliness of the kind which is in such distinguished favor among football apologists.
The coach of one of the football teams, prior to Thansgiving day contests, said to an enthusiast who was preparing to stake his money with a liberality not born of discretion, "Judge, don't let your ardor run away with your judgment." I would like to name the "Judge" who is going around shaking his money in people's faces. Were this brazen-faced character on the bench, we might expect decisions as unjust and iniquitous as that pronounced by Angelo, whose hypocrisy Shakespeare has held up to just scorn and execration.
The honor that is said to prevail among thieves would be a moral advance upon that which marks the conduct of some football players. Frequently any sharp practice, however unfair and dishonorable, will be employed to secure the victory in which the contestants are often so deeply interested pecuniarily. Paid "thugs" are imported, at no slight expense, and en