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ness, witnessing the partial fulfillment of Mère Minique's prophecy, not “under a new flag,” but under his own beloved fleur de lis.
Charles Cheney Hyde.
The present year closes another chapter in the history of American foot ball. The days of the mass play and the flying wedge are over, and another year will see the play developing along new lines. It is true, indeed, that much of the criticism so general just now is misinformed and unjust. It is not true that foot ball has been growing brutal. Anyone who will look back to the newspaper accounts of the games in the fall of 1884, and the comments on them, will see how mild by comparison is the present outcry. The fact is, that the very development of team-play which has culminated in the objectionable features of the present game has done away with the brutality that sometimes marred the old game. The individual is now lost sight of in the eleven; each man is an indispensable part of a complicated machine carrying out the will of one mind. He has no time for aggressive hostilities, for personal grudges, for “getting even” with an opponent. All this has been making of foot ball a better, and, on the whole, a safer game. If the present style of battering-ram play puts too severe a strain on the endurance of the men—and that it does is everywhere admitted—it is a simple matter to modify the rules and do away with the evil at once, for the trouble is merely in the style of play, not in the nature of the game. Our editors and other friends who have so much to say about the brutality of foot ball are barking up the wrong tree.
But there is another lesson of a different kind which the fall has brought home to us here at Yale. So long as we could go on playing Harvard and Princeton year after year and winning from them both, most of us gave little heed to the croakings of the wiseacres. Now at last we see what we ought to have seen long ago—that to play two strong antagonists within five days and expect always to win, or even to do ourselves justice, is the wildest folly. We have no disposition to minimize the credit of Prince
ton's victory. The game was fairly played, and fairly
Princeton might, and very probably would, have beaten us under the most favorable circumstances. But the fact remains that the circumstances were not the most favorable for us; and if we wish to avoid the unnecessary repetition in the future of the experience of Thanksgiving Day, we shall do well to consider what alternative is possible.
If we must play both Harvard and Princeton for the championship there is but one thing to do. The last of November is as late as it is safe to postpone the close of the foot ball season. The championship games must be separated from each other by at least ten days, and Harvard and Princeton must meet one another. This means that the championship season, the season of the great games, must begin early in November. The disadvantages of such a system are obvious. A foot ball team cannot be brought into championship form in less than a certain time; it cannot be kept in training more than a certain time. It cannot begin and play until cool weather comes, nor continue playing after winter sets in. Further than that, its development must be progressive. It cannot well be made ready for one great contest, put forth its best efforts, lay bare all its strategy, display its strength and its weakness to watchful opponents, and then after the inevitable relaxation instantly begin the same process again for another struggle only a few days later. Yet this is our only choice: to separate the games as far as possible, prolong the season into two, and invent each time a new game to take the place of the one whose good and bad points have been exposed in one struggle to our adversaries of the next, or else play them near together, send a battered, exhausted, and resourceless team upon the field-and await the chances of frequent defeat with what philosophy we may.
Princeton may well congratulate herself on her spiendid showing on Thanksgiving Day. It cannot be denied that the severe defeats she had suffered in the games lost to Yale in 1890 and 1891, and her defeat by Pennsylvania a year ago, had greatly diminished her prestige. It seemed as though the prophecies of those who said that in the long run her smaller numbers would make rivalry with Yale and Harvard impossible, were already being fulfilled. Now she has regained her old position. The old association has gone to pieces, but Princeton holds first place. It is not a condition of affairs to win converts for the dual league.
Yet on the prize-ring theory of the championship there could be no time more suitable than the present for our withdrawal from any agreement which binds us to meet Princeton under any other conditions than those most desirable for us. On the prize-ring theory a championship is something to be held and defended against all
The champion has not the option of refusing satisfaction to a worsted and smarting opponent. Either Princeton must be beaten so thoroughly and so long that she can no longer make any pretence of being our equals, or else when we part company we must expect to be accused of unsportsmanlike conduct, and taunted with the charge of fearing to meet a formidable adversary. If we are thoroughly assured of the desirability of a dual league, and ready for it, the occasion is after all not so unfavorable for bringing it to a consummation. The dual league is, as was argued in this department nearly a year ago, the definite and final abandonment of the prize-ring theory of college athletics, and the substitution of a theory of yearly contests with our one great rival who meets us on equal terms in all our sports. It does not mean that we refuse to contend with other colleges from time to time under such conditions as may seem to us desirable, but it does mean that we develope our teams with one single end in view and not with two, that we fight one battle at a time and hope to see the best man win, that we do not pretend to get together and keep on hand through a season a better team than anybody else can at any time send against us, and that we recognize no obligation to contend with any college that does not meet us in all our great branches of athletics.
But the writer suspects that an appeal for a dual league would now fall for the most part on deaf ears. And in any case it is best to look before we leap. The dual league is not in any case so important but that we may pay too high a price for it. And the present situation is exactly that to which Harvard has been looking forward as the coercive force which would bring us to a dual league on her own terms. The agreement under which the Springfield game is now played has only one more year to run.
At its end the whole question of the terms under which we meet Harvard will be again an open one. And of first importance in that question will be the subject of eligibility to the teams. Harvard, while insisting on the sincerity of her desire to free athletics from all taint of professionalism, has in the past insisted on the eligibility of one class of students whose candidacy seems to Yale to be fatal to the purity of athletics—the special students not candidates for a degree. It is to be hoped that Yale will not be less inclined to insist on this condition in the future than she has been in the past. It makes no difference how strictly the rules may be drawn in other departments; if they are lax in this the whole principle is sacri. ficed. The only rules that are worth anything against the worst foes to true intercollegiate sport—the professional athlete, and the perpetual athlete-are those that debar the whole class in which these men find shelter.
What is to be our position during the coming year? So far as concerns Harvard, at least, there can be no change until the agreement now in force expires. In the case of Princeton, on the other hand, we are free to choose our own course. The old association is at an end. One thing is sure: we should do very unwisely to enter into any new agreement with Princeton that can bind us after the present arrangement with Harvard runs out, unless Harvard is a party to it. If a year from now we should be called on to choose between the two, the game with Harvard is more important than that with—Princeton ; more important, and yet not necessary. If Harvard refuses us reasonable concessions, or if there is any suspicion—a suspi