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OUR ATHLETIC INDEPENDENCE.
ABY Willy is four years old and he sits before the
Bare with his toys. Willy is talking to himself and for
convenience of conversation he considers himself as three persons: First, Willy-just-waked-up; second, Willy-anhour-after-bed-time; and third, Willy-wants-to-be-'mused. The four dolls propped up in front of Willy just now are dressed in large-lettered sweaters.
Willy is the Opinion of the Press, and just at present, let us say, he talks to himself in the disguises of Life and The Evening Post and The World. We all know the dolls he is playing with.
No aspect of college life is more charming than its comparative freedom from extraneous standards of taste and morality. Each university has a character of its own. Notwithstanding pessimistic comparisons to the days of our fathers and older brothers we know that in college we can study, play, talk and dress as we please and as we cannot do these things outside of our university town. There are certain broad restrictions upon our actions set by the opinion of our fellow-students and by
the faculty; public opinion reaches us indirectly and in a modified form; to a normally constituted man these restrictions are mere guard rails and warnings of danger for which, in his heart, he is devoutly thankful, however much he may display his argumentative ability in denouncing them.
The workaday world, shut off from direct participation in our interests, pleasures and benefits has always devoted a certain portion of its time to advice and criticisms-often justifiable and necessary but sometimes palpable outbreaks of an irritable jealousy against youth and happiness. Public opinion talks to itself through the press, and just as when a four year old babe sits before the grate and imagines itself a large and prosperous family, these automatic conversations run into controversy, although the idea, the social soul-as we are anthropologically admonished to call public opinion-remains unchanged.
So long as the colleges and college men kept their work and play to themselves the rest of the world was satisfied to observe and advise; now and then in days gone by a body of students transgressed the law of the land, as happens occasionally now, and observation ran into personal contact and conflict. But with the rise of athletics this contact took the form of participation. The audience thinks itself as much a necessary part of a public contest as the opposing athletes.
When the colleges began to play their championship games in New York and invited any one who would pay the admission fee to witness the contest, it undoubtedly became the right of the newspapers to criticise the performance and the performers as much as it has always been their right to criticise a professional baseball nine. The fact of freedom from technical professionalism is not of the least interest to the average reader of the newspapers, and consequently is of very little concern to their writers. The Great Unwashed-or perhaps in view of the partly academic character of the audience we may strain a point and say the Great Half-Washed-pays to see the game and regards the colleges in the same light in
which it regards all others to whom it pays money to obtain amusement-as servants.
However unjust newspaper criticisms and libels on football and the men who play the game may be, it must be remembered that it is the past policy of the colleges that has exposed them to the attack, and that so long as the present understanding of our position as public entertainers exists, so long will the New York papers abuse us roundly for trying to take the Thanksgiving game out of New York and then abuse us still more savagely for persisting in the maintenance of a sport so brutal and demoralizing to the tastes of the masses.
Until the colleges cease to furnish the general public with amusement by professional methods their good name and that of their representatives are the toys of that irresponsible and irrepressible child-the Opinion of the Press.
The danger of our false position is not only that we are exposed to unfair and malicious criticism. There is a danger that the din in our ears shall make us incapable of hearing the voice of our own reason. The feeling of public ownership has gone farther than to say where and when we shall play our games; it has assumed to tell us with whom we shall play and why; it has set up for us championships which we do not want and has demanded that we fight for them or forfeit those which we already hold.
It is not the province of any educational institution to meet all comers or to meet any contestant with which it has no particular desire to engage. Cornell has for years claimed that if we refuse to compete with the Cornell crew we must lay aside our claim to the intercollegiate rowing championship. We have never made such a claim: but we do have a league or association with Harvard in which we claim the championship. If Cornell chooses to organize another intercollegiate association, containing as many colleges as may seem to her advisable, she may have a championship against which we lodge no exception; but it gives her no right or control over the Yale
Harvard contest or the winner thereof. So in football: taking into account the difference in the character of the two universities, Yale and Pennsylvania, and that we have quite enough football to keep us busy, it seemed advisable to those who had the interests of Yale football most at heart that we should not include Pennsylvania in our round of championship contests for the present year. If Pennsylvania wishes to claim the championship of the world at American intercollegiate football she has a perfect right to arrange a series of contests with such an end in view-but Yale declines to enter it. Yale does not want to try for the championship of the world nor for any championship other than those of her own seeking. We neither admit nor deny, as a university, the superiority of Pennsylvania's team to ours. Circumstances change with time, and it is perfectly conceivable that a season may come when Yale will accept Pennsylvania as a contestant and reject Harvard. Our stand in this respect is not a new thing even in football; it is only a year since the New York World boasted that it would force Harvard to meet Princeton.
These two examples of rowing and football are ample to illustrate the Yale position in athletics which so thoroughly fails of comprehension outside the universities. We play football and baseball, we row, we run foot races for our own profit and entertainment and for our friends. Consequently we retain the right to hold these contests when and where and with whom we please.
It is the duty of every Yale man to keep fast hold upon this independence; never to be turned from it by the clamor of the sporting editor or the taunts of a disappointed challenger; never to let pass an opportunity of making more general the public knowledge of our position.
LIZ-A DOWN TOWN SKETCH.
MAGEE, fireman on engine number forty-five, was
taking his usual Sunday night meal at O'Rourke's restaurant. He looked up occasionally from his soup to Liz O'Rourke, who was wiping glasses at a neighboring table. Whenever he looked up Liz met his gaze, and everytime she met his gaze she smiled. She was very bright this evening; she wore a rose in her hair and had another at her belt. She even seemed pleased at his attentions. To Mr. O'Rourke, as proprietor of the establishment, and the natural guardian of his daughter's welfare, this was very pleasing. He chuckled audibly as he laid up twenty cents against a regular customer, and glanced affectionately at Liz as he added a nickel, when the impecunious gentleman extracted a cigar from the case on the counter.
Mr. O'Rourke would gladly have offered his daughter in exchange for the name of father-in-law to Magee, for the latter's money was as sure as was the existence of the brass buttons on his waistcoat and his position among the elite was undisputed. But in spite of the lonely magnificence of the one collar button on his shirt, and the fact that Magee led the march at the last fireman's ball, up to this time Liz had always objected. It had always been Meakim, to Mr. O'Rourke's mind, who had broken his peace, and for Meakim, the proprietor of O'Rourke's restaurant, he had but little respect. He always took Liz to shows that cost a dime, while Magee had never been known to stoop below a quarter. Meakim, however, had a way with Liz—a way that had grown so outrageous of late that Mr. O'Rourke had decided to stop it. He had conveyed this intelligence to Liz with no choice of language, and with plenty of temper, and had felt that he was doing his duty as a father, by excluding from the family of the O'Rourkes one who had no superior social advantages to offer, and whose finances were a matter of doubt.