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EDITORIALS
October 17, 1960
TAKE OFF THOSE RED SHIRTS
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October 17, 1960

Editorials

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TAKE OFF THOSE RED SHIRTS

Colleges often are in doubt as to whether they are academic or athletic institutions; some are a lot of one or the other. Those that do go in for athletics intensively and extensively cling to star players as long as they possibly can—sometimes long enough for a man to have got his doctorate in football.

For a good many years now the "red-shirting" of football players has been prevalent in both state-supported and private institutions of learning. Red-shirting seems to have started in certain Southeastern Conference schools that had too many football players for use in one season. Coaches put red shirts on the surplus meat, let them work out in practice, but held them out of competition for a year. When a promising player began to do too well in his studies and was in danger of normal graduation, the coach often would persuade him to "adjust" his courses and thus spread his credits over five instead of four years. There were reports several years ago that one southern university had an entire team red-shirted and that it was better than the varsity squad then playing.

Nobody knows how much red-shirting goes on in colleges today, but there is enough to give some schools unfair athletic advantage and, rightly, to alarm the National Collegiate Athletic Association. In December 1957 the Big Ten passed an anti-red-shirt rule, and the NCAA is now sounding out other schools on adopting similar regulations. The Big Ten specifies that "no student shall be eligible to participate in intercollegiate athletics after the expiration of four consecutive 12-month periods following the date of his initial enrollment in an institution of college grade." The only exceptions to the Big Ten rule are "hardship cases," in which injury, military draft or economic stringency force a boy to drop out of school for a period. We think both the rule—and its escape clause—should be applied to all schools.

College football may not be as scientific after red-shirting is banned, but it certainly will be a lot more honest. Many students will get an education, and some colleges will be restored to academic purposes. Four balanced years of study and football rather than five or six years of 70% football and 30% study will make Jack healthier and wiser, even if it does not make his school wealthier.

GROW UP, FLOYD

Heavyweight Champion Floyd Patterson was quoted last week as telling the British Boxing Writers' Club:

"I no longer seek recognition in America. I am just happy to go on winning fights, and after each victory I will tour Europe, where I know I am appreciated."

We are happy that Patterson received acclaim in England and Sweden. He deserves and has received plenty of recognition in the U.S. This magazine has always regarded him as a fine fighter—we picked him to beat Ingemar Johansson in their first title bout in June 1959—and we are sure he will continue to be a credit to the ring.

But he is being silly out of the ring. Because some sportswriters and fans criticized him after he was knocked out by Johansson, he is now criticizing his country. Doesn't he know that all sports stars have had the experience of being blown upon hot and cold and have seen the worshiping fans run from one winner's camp to the next? The master jockey, Eddie Arcaro, is booed every time he loses on a favorite, but you don't hear him whine.

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