FEBRUARY 22, 1951
HYDE PARK, Wednesday—None of us can help but be shocked to find that boys have been bribed to throw basketball games. But I feel that the men who did the bribing deserve the severer punishment because they were willing to make money out of young people to whom they were offering a very serious temptation.
Many boys who are working their way through a university have to work very hard. Many of them not only feel the pressure of meeting their own expenses, but sometimes things are happening at home which make it truly difficult not to have money to help out.
I can see the temptation that it might be to many a young person though I must say some of these boys seem to be old enough to know better. I am rather glad that college games will now, in great part, be taken out of Madison Square Garden.
When you are in college, sports are a vital part of a man or woman's activity. They build health and they give young people good, strong bodies and the ability to use them skillfully.
In addition, we have always thought of sports as an aid to character building. The old saying that many battles were won for Great Britain on the playing fields of Eton did not come about because of physical development alone, but because of the spirit of fair play, the teamwork, the ability to stick even in the face of defeat developed there. All these things are valuable assets to education. They go by the board, however, the minute there is cheating in a game just as an honor system is of no value if boys cheat in examinations.
Perhaps we have allowed our college sports to become too commercialized. Big gambling was possible on the results of these games and so the gambler tempted the players. Intermural sports are good, but I think it will be a pity if, because of the weakness of a few boys, we wipe out all intercollegiate sports.
I have never liked the practice of the alumni subsidizing good players and thus attracting athletes to college regardless of their mental attributes. But I do realize that the GI Bill of Rights has enabled many young people to go to college who might otherwise not have had the opportunity for an education. Therefore, I am very anxious that some way be devised by which boys who show ability in school shall have an opportunity to attend college regardless of their financial status.
We cannot afford to waste brains in this country. They are becoming more important to us every day. And surely financial position should not bar young people from the education which can give them positions of leadership in our nation in the future.