Connected successfully  The Okie Legacy: Vol 18, Iss 8 1916 - Big College Men Criticize The Athletic Lobbyist

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1916 - Big College Men Criticize The Athletic Lobbyist

"Woe to the college graduate whose chief passion in life seems to be the development of championship athletic teams among the undergraduates of his alma mater!"

On 16 January 1916, Sunday, page 14, The Washington Herald and it's reporter, Edward R. Bushnell, wrote about "Big College Men Criticize The Athletic Lobbyist."

Found on

"The Athletic Lobbyist" was what Prof. Robert N. Corwin, of the Yale faculty, calls him. Ex President William H. Taft raps this type as "possessing an unscrupulous passion... more money than brains, or at least more money than discretion, who pervert their college loyalty and exaggerate their pleasure in a college victory." Dean Briggs, of Harvard also assailed this uncontrollable desire to win at the recent convention of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

The triple attack of these three big men was merely a symptom of what college presidents and representative professors, as well as far seeing alumni, believed would be the early elimination of interested alumni in the fostering and control of undergraduate athletics. Ex-President Taft would get rid of most of the alumni influence by forbidding the endowment or acceptance of scholarships for or by athletes.

"It seems to me," said MR. Taft at the recent convention the N.C.A. A. "that colleges may well be cautioned in reference to the granting of scholarships to athletes because they are athletes. One may well understand that faculties would not grant scholarships for such reasons, but scholarships are created by alumni, as I have been advised, conditioned on their being granted to certain athletes. Doubtless they are mere generous expressions of appreciation of work done, but they ought to be forbidden because of their tendency, and because of the abuses to which such a practice may lead."

The story goes on to report that Prof. Robert N. Corwin, of the Yale faculty, who was at the head of the committee on athletics, approved the subject from a different angle. He attacks the alumni "athletic lobby," but at the same time he severely criticizes faculties for permitting interested graduates to usurp the control and guidance of student athletics from the faculty. He arraigns faculty men for their serene indifference or antagonism to athletic sports and the athletic field which he pronounces "a laboratory in the art of living for which no other feature of the university can be a substitute. There are few real conditions of life where the boy gets so close to Mother Earth or so close to the sons of men as the rough and tumble of the athletic field, and there is no lecture room or laboratory in the college where for either rich or poor the actual give and take of later life are so nearly duplicated."

Prof. Corwin then takes his brethren on the faculty to task for their failure to utilize the college sports to get a better hold on their students. He almost suggested that faculty men should be engaged in part for their prowess on the athletic field, or at least for interest and attainment in things in which the students are mostly concerned. He even suggests that members of the faculty should be "Big Brothers" in an athletic sense to the students. This is the sort of faculty control of undergraduate athletics he believes in and is the principle on which nearly all the big universities of the East are remodeling their athletic control.

Prof. Corwin, representing the new Yale idea, believed that the remedy for the low standard of athletic ethics lies in the engagement of a better type of coach. In particular he warns college men of their dangers when they employ as coached men whose position, reputation and salary are stacked on victory. At present there are in most of the larger universities a considerable number of men engaged in coaching, having only the most nominal or formal relations with the faculty, but whose relations with the students are most intimate and whose influence is constant and far reaching. Yet these men whom the students regard as their natural guides, philosophers and friend, are chosen frequently, if not generally, by the undergraduate or by the graduate lobby, and not for their moral quality, but for their ability to put it over or get it across. At present men are permitted as coaches and advisers who would not be tolerated in a similar capacity in any class room or lecture room. Is there any reason why coaches should be chosen with less care than professors? They certainly have, as a rule, greater authority and influence with the student.

Taft Knocks Mucker Baseball
Former President Taft, ardent baseball fan that he had always been, warns college baseball men to shun the manners of the professionals because "If there is any respect in which college athletics should differ from professional athletics, it is in the good manners observed by each side toward the other. Their being gentlemen and to be self-respecting and self-restraining."

The former President goes after the college men for the slang chatter they use toward each other on the diamond. In particular he criticizes the conduct of the last Yale-Harvard baseball game for this very thing. "To hear the undergraduates, on exhibition before 10,000 people," he said, "calling out to their associates, 'Get his goat,' or 'Put out his eye,' was not elevating. When the criticism was published, the captains of the various college teams were interviewed, and they said it was necessary to give 'pep' to their men. I think this is ridiculous. If it is necessary to inspire one side with courage through the cry of the captain it certainly need not be framed in language which can only be characterized as that of the muckers."

Although the reform must come from within the National Collegiate Athletic Association is determined not to let up in its efforts to eradicate the objections features from college baseball. And with such men as former President Taft back of them there is a prospect that something will be accomplished. The ideals of college baseball, as expressed by the NCAA are so different from those which given the professional game that they will probably cause some mirth among the followers of the major league brand.

Here are the principal reforms the collegians want observed:
1. Keep the coach and all other persons not actually playing off the players' bench.
2. No member of either team shall call or shout to a member of another team during the game unless to warn him of some danger.
3. There shall be no oral coaching of any kind from the bench.
4. There shall been continual chatter by other members of the team in the outfield for the alleged benefit of the pitcher. If this individual needs any encouragement or steadying, it can be given to him quietly by his infield.
5. For a second violation of any of the foregoing rules the offender shall be excluded from the game.

This association also wants the umpires to strictly enforce the rules against "blocking" a runner, "prying him off the base," etc., offenses which it claims are both illegal and unsportsmanlike.
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