Maybe it is a better one. But I doubt it. I believe that one of the reasons why we attach such importance to the results of football games is that we have no clear idea of what a college or university is. We can't understand these institutions, even if we have graduated from one; but we can grasp the figures on the scoreboard.
"WHAT SHOULD THE UNIVERSITY BE?"
Walter P. Metzger of Columbia, writing in a recent number of the
Antioch Review, tells the story: "In asking 'what should the university be?' every need has clamored for recognition, every craft has hoped to belong?and the result has been the unhappy association of piddling vocational and important intellectual interests, the nestling together?under one faculty?of searchers, conservers and craftsmen, the crowding together of institutes, departments, hospitals, dormitories, restaurants, apartment houses and football stadium all under the canopy of a single administration. The university in America is not a community of scholars, but an enormous agglomerate service station, where one can be born, go to kindergarten, lower school and high school, meet the girl friend and get married; where one can get religious solace or psychiatric help; where one learns to turn out a newspaper, to do bookkeeping, to cook. No wonder the universities have been hiring generals to run this domain."
Or consider the unconscious pathos of a recent address by the president of the College of the Pacific, an address that was thought so successful in justifying football that it was distributed by Tide Water Associated Oil Company, which likes football because people use gasoline to get to the games. After pointing out that philosophy was once the "integrating force" in higher education, the president of the College of the Pacific goes on to say that such an integrating force is missing, and is needed, today. He finds that neither science nor religion can play this role.
He then says: "The curriculum has become diversified; there are numerous electives. Few study the same courses or sit under the same professors.... So, in this period of intellectual and social disintegration of the American college, all unite in football....Football has become more than a spectacle; it has become a symbol; it has become one of the great intangibles not only of college but of our American life. Actually, if you want to look at it on a higher level, football has become the spiritual core of the modern campus."
What a spiritual core! Here is a description of the spiritual contribution of big-time football by the late Jeff Cravath. "Nearly all colleges still playing big-time schedules have been forced into the open market to obtain their raw material. They must bid for the best players?and make concessions to keep them. The fact that the system reduces the boys to perjurers, scalpers and football gigolos is ignored.
"To keep up the pretense of purity and still produce winning football teams is no small job.... Colleges, even state institutions, need money to survive. In 99 cases out of 100, the money must come from wealthy alumni, or in some state schools, from legislatures which are dominated by politically prominent alumni. The alumni demand winning football teams. To get winning teams, colleges must violate the rules they themselves have made.
"A college president must know the corrupt practices that are being used to build his football squad. But if he tries to stop them, he runs afoul of prominent alumni on the board of trustees or board of regents, or alumni with endowment-available money. The president needs that money to keep his school going."
I agree with Mr. Cravath that the troubles of football began when it became big business. This business, like any other, has to pay. The only paying football is winning football. If you are going to win, you have to have the material; there is no substitute. The solution of the football problem at Chicago that was urged upon me was the usual one: fire the coach. The coach who led Chicago through its last disastrous seasons went to Stanford and took his team to the Rose Bowl in his first year. He had the material at Stanford.
MUSIC, PAINTING, RHYTHMS AND DANCE