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Seated in the top row of the wooden bleachers—down at about the 30-yard line—I watched a Hobart College halfback score a third and decisive touchdown against Hamilton. Here was no massive concrete stadium, no clash of gridiron All-America, no crowd of tens of thousands. Not even a reserved seat for the president of the home college. This lack of grandeur was not important. What was was the end of Hamilton's five-game winning streak. Despite hard feelings of dismay, my thoughts were tempered somewhat by a realization that, winning was making difficulties for the college and for me as its president.
Only two weeks before, I had watched Hamilton win its fourth game of the year by defeating Haverford College, a friendly rival in an intercollegiate football series dating back to 1925. That victory came two days after my return from a speaking engagement at Haverford. While I was there, students and faculty alike had asked me—only half in jest—if an investigation of Hamilton's athletic program was yet under way.
A few days later, our secretary of admissions, Sidney Bennett, returned from a conference of college admissions officers to report such questions as:
"When did Hamilton start lowering admissions standards?"
"Started to build a stadium yet?"
"Did you lower the standards or did you increase the salaries—I mean scholarships?"
The remarks indicate in a small way the stigma which attaches to a wining football team. Commercialized athletics at "big-time" football colleges and universities have given the public a ready formula to apply: good teams mean bought players.
But Hamilton does not buy players. Hamilton is a small college (633 students) located just outside the village of Clinton, New York. Because it is small, it could not be big time if it wanted to be. This observation is not sour grapes. Most of Hamilton's gate revenue—probably as much as 90%—comes from alumni who live nearby, and there is no large population center at hand to provide the customers to fill a large stadium. If worst should come to worst, our dilemma would not be whether to go big time, but rather whether we could continue to play intercollegiate games as a part of Hamilton's educational program.
A YEAR OLDER
How then does it happen that we had been winning football games? For one thing, we had more depth this year, which is attributable to the fact that last June only two members of the 1954 team were lost through graduation. The result was that Coach Don Jones had much the same team as last year, but it was a year older and more experienced. Then, too, it knew that it had a good chance to win. "We want to win as much as anyone else," Jones has said, "but we can't let this desire become a Frankenstein monster which will get out of hand."