Jamestown Evening Journal
December 15, 1925
Parke H. Davis Writes On The Future of Football
"Parke H. Davis, the author of this practical presentation of the situation and future of collegiate rugby football has been identified with the leadership of collegiate athletics for 36 years. The words, therefore, of such a competent veteran, authority are entitled to great consideration. In his undergraduate days, Mr. Davis played end and tackle on the football teams at Princeton. He also served as president of the track association and as chairman of the executive committee in charge of all sports. In association with Mr. Woodrow Wilson, then chairman of the faculty committee on sports. Mr. Davis planned and planted the basis of Princeton's modern athletic establishment. He was one of the founders of the "Western Intercollegiates." Since graduation his activities have not ceased. He served 15 years as a member of the Football Rules committee and in that position invented many of the sport's most popular features. He at present serves the football fraternity of the United States ss its historian and statistician. Mr. Davis is an active lawyer and business man of Easton, Pa.
"In view of the controversy now going on with relation to the speech of Edward K, Hall, chairman of the Intercollegiate Football Rules committee, at the dinner given last Saturday to the members of the All American football team by the New York Sun, Mr. Davis' article is especially timely and interesting.
By Parke H. Davis
Evolution, like revolution, moves in a series of periodic throes. Once more the activity of football displays signs of having arrived at another station where reform is impending. The interest in the sport, many claim, is too great for the good of student bodies. Excessive publicity distracts the normal development of character of the players. Professional football is raiding college playing corps, for a conspicuous instance of which attention is directed to the cases of Harold Grange and Earl Britton of Illinois, and causing players to leave college before obtaining their baccalaureate degrees. From many angles, in numbers and in power, are appearing drives for reform.
Problem Easy for Colleges
So far as the colleges are concerned the problem is not difficult. Faculties in a single session can reduce football within their own walls to any proportion desired; reduce the number of games to one or two, limit the attendance to alumni and undergraduates, or even to undergraduates, abolish paid admissions, and the deed is done neatly and with dispatch.
But many collegians are assuming to reform the sport itself. Here they mistake their mission. Football has outgrown its college character. Less than three hundred college teams were afield this fall. Compared with this little army the high school and secondary teams numbered approximately five thousand. The high schools of the United States reach into and include several hundred times more families and more people than the colleges, and high school football really closely approaches college football in excellence. The cleverest goal from the field this fall, a drop kick of fifty-five yards, was scored by a high school player, John Cavosie of Ironwood High in Michigan. And this little high school boy is six feet, three inches tall and weighs 190 pounds. There is not a college team in the country that he could not make as fullback. It is interesting to speculate if the best composite high school team in the United States could not defeat the All-America Intercollegiate eleven.
Lining up with these 5,000 school teams are thousands of independent teams, amateur organizations banded together for the love of sport Most Important of all Is the movement now well in motion among the lending cities of the United States to establish complete systems of sports for their boys and girls as major municipal functions. These cities are planting athletic organizations within their boundaries far more comprehensive than the system of Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford or of any other college or university. They are erecting great stadia and systems of playing fields and playgrounds. They are creating departments which aim to give a medical examination and a recheck to every boy and girl within their borders. These great and growing municipal organizations will not permit the college football leaders to mislead them in any way. Another factor to be reckoned with in the equation is the growth of professional rugby football. The stupendous portion of the public which is denied attendance at the intercollegiate games desires to have its football, and the attendance of 70,000 members of this public at a recent professional game in New York City discloses that this stupendous section of the public can and will gratify its desire.
Back of all these activities are ten million young boys throughout the United States eager to comply with the primitive, instinctive and wholesome desire to be a great athlete. Great athletes in these days of keen competition for leadership must be men of strong bodies, alert minds and sound morals. This is standard equipment also for general citizenship. Run out into some detail the traits of character necessary nowadays to make great football players are intelligence, enthusiasm, obedience, judgment, courage, honor and morals, cardinal virtues of manhood. These ten million boys desire to play football. Only a small percentage of them will go to college. Hence they will gratify their football ambitions by playing upon the school and independent teams of the country.
College leaders of football, if they are to remain leaders of the sport, must be field marshals of evolution. Let them falter or palter and there will instantly spring into existence a league of the high schools of the United States, a league of the municipal organizations of the great cities of the United States, which are using rugby football as a medium for the recreation and training of character of their boys; a league of the independent teams of the United States modeled along the lines of the Rugby Football union of England and the Amateur Athletic Union of the United States.
Any one, or all three of these vast organizations, possess the initiative and the talent to take over so far as the non-collegiate public is concerned the sport of collegiate rugby football, make its own rules, customs, and practices, leaving to the colleges the opportunity to pursue their sport in their own way as they now do with baseball.