Pierson was not. At Yale, the Yale of Merriwell anyway, democracy rules, and athletics are at the heart of this democratic spirit:
Merriwell knew well enough that Phillips men were given preference in everything at Yale as a rule, for they had friends to pull them through, while the fellows who had been prepared by private tutors lacked such an advantage. But Frank had likewise discovered that in most cases a man was judged fairly at Yale, and he could become whatever he chose to make himself, in case he has the ability.
Frank had heard the cry which had been raised at that time that the old spirit of democracy was dying out at Yale, and that great changes had taken place there. He had heard that Yale was getting to be more like another college, where the swell set are strongly in evidence and the seniors likely to be very exclusive, having but a small circle of speaking acquaintances. In the course of time Frank came to believe that the old spirit was still powerful at Yale. There were a limited number of young gentlemen who plainly considered themselves superior beings, and who positively refused to make acquaintances outside a certain limit; but those men held no position in athletics, were seldom of prominence in the societies, and were regarded as cads by the men most worth knowing. They were to be pitied, not envied.
At Yale the old democratic spirit still prevailed. The young men were drawn from different social conditions, and in their homes they kept to their own set; but they seemed to leave this aside, and they mingled and submerged their natural differences under that one broad generalization, "the Yale man."
And Merriwell was to find that this even extended to their social life, their dances, their secret societies, where all who showed themselves to have the proper dispositions and qualifications were admitted without distinction of previous condition or rank in their own homes.
Each class associated with itself, it is true, the members making no close friendships with members of other classes, with the possible exceptions of the juniors and seniors, where class feeling did not seem to run so high. A man might know men of other classes, but he never took them for chums.
The democratic spirit at Yale came mainly from athletics, as Frank soon discovered. Every class had half a dozen teams—tennis, baseball, football, the crew and so on. Everybody, even the "greasy" grinds, seemed interested in something, and so one or more of these organizations had some sort of a claim on everybody.
Besides this, there was the general work in the gymnasium, almost every member of every class appearing there at some time or other, taking exercise as a pastime or necessity.
The 'Varsity Athletic organization drew men from every class, not excepting the professional and graduate schools, and, counting the trials and everything, brought together hundreds of men.
In athletics strength and skill win, regardless of money or family; so it happened that the poorest man in the university stood a show of becoming the lion and idol of the whole body of young men.