"When I was a freshman the school made you wear a beanie, learn the yells, attend the pep rallies, go to all the home games, all sorts of things. Call it childish if you wish. But it' welded my class together and gave us a healthy school spirit that meant a lot to us. And then there was always a tea dance after our home games, where the kids had a lot of fun and the players were made to feel like heroes. All that sort of thing is gone now, with this total de-emphasis, and this business of treating college undergraduates as mature individuals who are above such frivolous things as beanies and pep rallies.
"On the evidence of panty raids and goldfish-gulping, I have a suspicion that today's youngsters aren't any more mature than we were at the same age. If I'm right, there must be something Hopkins could do to instill spirit in these teen-agers, too, if it would only make the effort. Instead, everybody just sits back and bemoans the fact that the students are spiritless. Maybe the fault doesn't lie with the students. Maybe their apathy is just a reflection of the administration's indifference. A lot of us think Hopkins could give football a better break than it does."
Marshall Turner, the university's thoughtful Director of Athletics, is a former chairman of the NCAA's small-college committee, and he remains in touch with the athletic directors of many of the country's smaller schools. He sees Hopkins' problem as part of a wider, deeper national dilemma. An alarming proportion of the small-college officials tell him that their football is beset by many of the same problems that plague the game at Hopkins, though seldom so acutely.
Their gravest problem, according to Turner, is to find enough players to make up an adequate team. Hard-nosed youngsters willing to play for the sheer love of the game are becoming as scarce as whooping cranes, it seems, while the what's-in-it-for-me young players are multiplying like rabbits. With more and more colleges openly recruiting, the small college with little or nothing to offer is in a hopeless competitive situation. It has no golden carrot to dangle before the nose of a prospective player.
Turner believes the public has been so thoroughly conditioned to the hyped-up, dollar-built standards of big-time football that it now refuses to accept anything less. As a result, a small college with limited resources can no longer hope to put on a good enough show to attract customers in any quantity, no matter how hard it tries. He compares the small school's predicament with that of a local ladies' club that is both wistful and foolish enough to stage its amateur Follies on the same night My Fair Lady is playing in town.
"Our little amateur show is being smothered by the professional performances put on in the big stadiums and over TV," Turner says. "And it's conceivable that someday we may have to fold it up completely. Yet I don't place the entire blame on the schools that have gone into the football entertainment business. I think things are the way they are because the public wants them that way. No one seems to get exercised over ethics in sports any more, just as no one seems to get too upset about chicanery in politics, business or anything else. So if amateur college football ever does die, I think it will be because the public doesn't give a damn.
"Meanwhile, it isn't going to die at Hopkins if any of us in the athletic department can help it. We're going to fight to keep the game alive. But, of course, we're limited to working with the players. And the really important job is on the campus, where something has got to be done to give football more of the stature it deserves, and to restore some of the old-time spirit of fun and excitement that goes with the game."