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Thoma, Harry C. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 38, Number II (Nov. 1936)

Richards, John R.
Football--a game or a business?,   p. 50

Page 50

  Fa:ooltiall -a G ame or a B"Siless?
                                                  A Gridiron Hero of the
'90's Gives
 I  HAVE been asked to say something           Some Sage Advice on Football
    about the trend in athletics in our col-
    leges.  I could give a fairly accurate
    story of the trail of college sports for              I            R1
  D     D   X     Y  X
    about forty years past, but except as                  y Jo    n   11.
Riiards,          96
the trail is illuminating, I may prove to be           Former Player and
Coach at Wisconsin
a poor prophet as to the future.
  Half a century ago, college sports were
in the hands of the students. Physical education de-  excesses indicate a
lack of maturity, or it may be that
partments existed for required gymnasium work, but    I am getting old. Nevertheless,
after nearly half a
the playing of games was a student activity.   A      century of doing it,
teaching it and seeing it, I feel
happy condition of freedom in sport existed, that has  that it is not so
important as it seems to a lot of us.
long since vanished.  Class, department and school    It is just a game,
and a contest between two schools
teams in football and baseball were organized by      is not a cataclysmic
clash bringing immortality or
interested students. Schedules in and out of the uni-  oblivion.
versity were arranged with no restrictions upon par-    It appears to me
that the future of football may
ticipants other than those imposed upon any student   be read in the things
going on around us. A pro-
of the university.  The last year that I was captain  fessional football
team has just been organized via
of the varsity football team at Wisconsin there were  a corporation, here,
in Los Angeles. The stock of
nine other football teams in the University, not     this corporation is
now being offered by a firm of
counting fraternity teams, where personnel of course  brokers at ten dollars
a share. They'll sell it easily
interlocked.  The law school team played quite a     and the corporation,
with its team and franchise, will
schedule with normal schools and small colleges.      make money and there
you have your football future.
Wednesday afternoon was set aside for the class and     IN  spite of all
exaggerations, regardless of the
school teams to scrimmage the varsity, if they cared
to do so.  No secret practice, no great retinue of   importance of gate receipts,
and with the activities of
coaches for one group, no particular feeling of calamity  the professional
gamblers, all aided and abetted by
if the varsity lost -  at least not in the University as  the sporting columns
of our dailies, football must be
a whole. The cost was small and, believe it or not,  retained as a college
sport. It is going to be difficult
the players bought their own equipment, with the     to make it harmonize
with things educational, but it
exception of the varsity, and money was not as       must be done.
plentiful then as it is now.                               Wisconsin has
been disturbed because of its lack of
                                                         success in this
changed situation, but if the essentials
  A  FOOTBALL team with unnumbered players,         are right at the University,
there is no cause for alarm.
with no radio announcer, no band and no regular      I do not believe it
is the main function of a college
cheer-leaders was just a team playing for its college.  to develop football
teams and certainly it is poor ser-
It was a unit and its successes were not heralded as  vice to a student to
fit him for nothing better than
the prowess of one or two players or as the genius of  professional football.
 Not that there is anything
a coach.  Conditions such as these were then quite    wrong in playing professionally,
but it is deficient in
general in the universities of the present conference.  worldly as well as
character essentials from a long
The change to the policy of preparing a limited group  range viewpoint.
for a grand spectacle came quite rapidly in football.   I want Wisconsin
to have a good football team
The refinements of centralization and the adaptation  and a worthwhile and
efficient football organization.
of the game to the desires of the public came along   It is efficient when
it takes a group of bona fide stu-
as the   box-office receipts                                            
        dents and welds them into a
grew steadily.                                                          
        cohesive  unit,  exhibiting
  Changes have come and                                                 
       team   play and individual
like most experiences that                                              
         nowledge    of  the  game
have passed, they won't re-                                             
        equal to that shown by any
turn.  Today we have a                                                  
         our competitors. It may
highly commercialized sport                                             
        lose with all of these factors
(football) which is part of                                             
        present, when the physical
the present educational pic-                                            
        qualities of opponents are
ture.  The importance of                                                
        so superior that they can't
foo'tball to educational insti-                                         
        be stopped.
tutions varies almost in-                                               
          Wisconsin football, clean,
versely as do their ages. The                                           
        successful football, is *in the
new candidates for cultural                                             
        hands of the faculty and
leadership seem to be fertil?                                           
        students. It must be firmly
soil for developing football                                            
        controlled by a faculty and
bacilli. It may be a bit                                                
        made a part of student life
sour-grapey for a Wisconsin                   The players' bench        
        of the University.     The
man to hint that football                They play for fun, not for profit
         (Please turn to page 78)

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