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Ironically, the $42,000 taken in by Abilene in a single game could support football at Hempstead for the next 15 years. The Long Island school spends about $2,400 a year supporting the sport.
At New Trier High School in Kenilworth, a Chicago suburb, the cost of the football program ran $11,914.90 last year. Yet football at New Trier is conducted on still a different level from either Massillon or at Abilene. The school is, first of all, a township school encompassing Wilmette, Kenilworth, Winnetka and Glencoe—all extremely wealthy suburban areas. Its student body is college size, 3,389, almost twice as large as either Massillon or Abilene.
No one who tries out for football at New Trier is ever cut from the squad. "As long as they show for practice," says Coach Walter Aschenbach, "they're on the team—or one of the teams." So Aschenbach creates as many squads as he has players to fill them. New Trier maintains freshman, sophomore, junior varsity and varsity football teams and, if needed, each of these has an A squad and a B squad. "I've got the coaches to go around." says Aschenbach, "so why not give everyone a chance to play. Besides, it makes for a good farm system."
Aschenbach has a problem when it comes to advising his graduates about choosing a college. "I tell them to pick their school as though they were never going to play another game of football," he says. "And I discourage them looking for scholarships. I don't think a kid whose old man makes $50,000 a year should be asking for handouts. If a kid comes to school here at New Trier, his old man is loaded."
"We're on a wholesome basis here," Aschenbach asserts proudly. "Athletics—football if you wish—are part of the educational setup. The tail does not wag the dog. I agree with the Ivy League concept of sports. Let's keep it amateur but let's make it as good as we can."
Most of the athletes from New Trier go on to eastern schools—many to Yale, Harvard and Princeton. New Trier footballers have supplied Yale with some of its finest talent in recent years, with such stars as Al Ward, 1956 halfback, and Mike Cavallon, an end on this year's team.
Of the four systems, which is the best? Hempstead, Massillon, Abilene or New Trier?
"None," says Henry Steele Commager, Columbia University's outspoken professor of American history. High school football, according to Commager, is nothing more than "a burlesque show on the playing field."
"We would not expect—we would not permit—our daughters to entertain the community in a night club or burlesque show. There is no reason why we should permit our sons to entertain the community by what are in effect burlesque performances on the playing field."
Commager suggested this solution: