Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 68.djvu/265

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261
NEWSPAPER FOOTBALL

NEWSPAPER FOOTBALL
By Professor EDWIN G. DEXTER,

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS

THAT the game of football as played at our schools and colleges is in ill repute with the people as a class, no one who keeps at all abreast of the times can deny. Nor can it be denied that there are many good reasons for the feelings of general disapproval. The game, in common with other athletic pursuits, puts an undue premium upon certain human (or inhuman) characteristics which are altogether at variance with the highest ideals of the institutions which maintain it. It has too, in some instances, established relations that are to be regretted with professional interests and professional methods. It has, through its immense popularity and consequent tremendous gate receipts, given rise to financial problems that are not easy of solution, and it is, according to the newspaper, seemingly excessively dangerous to life and limb. In spite of the gravity of the other deplorable features of the game, we can hardly doubt the present wide-spread revulsion of popular feeling is due most largely to the last mentioned cause, for it is the one most prominently before the people. The others are treated in an academic way in occasional articles and editorials which are read by comparatively few people, but during the football season no reader of the daily papers can fail to be impressed with the great number of news items, each relating to some fatality or instance of serious injury on the gridiron. Hardly a Sunday issue of any of our principal city dailies has appeared during the past football season without including from three to a dozen or even more of such paragraphs till one was led to wonder whether any of our pig-skin warriors would survive the campaign. So much at variance were these reports with prevailing sentiment and conditions in a few football quarters with which I was personally familiar that I was led at the close of the last football season to endeavor to find out whether the report fitted the facts more exactly in others. This I did by writing personal letters to all those reported 'seriously injured' in a number of the leading daily newspapers of the country. Each letter specified the particular injury reported, as well as the date of the game and asked the following questions:

1. Were you in good training?
2. How much time did you lose from school work because of the injury?
3. Have you entirely recovered?
4. Is there any probability that the injury will prove permanent?