Sports and Freedom: The Rise of Big-Time College Athletics

By Ronald A. Smith | Go to book overview

IX

Student Control
and Faculty Resistance

WALTER CAMP, ATHLETIC ADVISOR of Yale, said it best: "Neither the faculties nor other critics assisted in building the structure of college athletics." Camp wrote in 1885 that though the faculty placed some obstacles in the way, "it is a structure which students unaided have builded." 1 This was true at Yale, and it was true at most institutions of higher learning in America. Students had indeed been free to develop their extracurricular activities, with athletics being the dominant one by the latter quarter of the nineteenth century. That freedom, however, was jeopardized by several contending groups, faculties being the most vigorous.

The faculties of the individual colleges continually resisted the encroachment of student athletics upon the life of the institution. Faculty members were caught between their perceived notion that exercise was of value to students' health and their consternation that uncontrolled athletics led to educational abuses. Andrew Davis, a Harvard graduate, looked favorably upon intercollegiate athletics and indicated that college sport from the 1860s prospered "in proportion to the encouragement given by the faculties, but which thrives even where it is discouraged by official frowns." 2 An obvious tension existed between students' love of athletics and faculty's concern for educational integrity.

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