Thursday, October 10, 2013


John J. Miller:
The main figure in this movement to ban football was Charles W. Eliot, the president of Harvard and probably the single most important person in the history of higher education in the United States. Indeed, Eliot hated team sports in general because competition motivated players to conduct themselves in ways he considered unbecoming of gentlemen. If baseball and football were honorable pastimes, he reasoned, why did they require umpires and referees? “A game that needs to be watched is not fit for genuine sportsmen,” he once said. For Eliot, a pitcher who threw a curve ball was engaging in an act of treachery. But football distressed him even more. Most of all, he despised its violence. Time and again, he condemned the game as “evil.”

One of Eliot’s main adversaries in the battle over football was Walter Camp, one of the players in the game Teddy Roosevelt watched in 1876. A decent player, Camp made his real mark on football as a coach and a rules-maker. Indeed, he is the closest thing there is to football’s founding father.

In the rivalry between Eliot and Camp, we see one of the ongoing controversies in American politics at its outset—the conflict between regulators bent on the dream of a world without risk, and those who resist such an agenda in the name of freedom and responsibility. Eliot and other Progressives identified a genuine problem with football, but their solution was radical. They wanted to regulate football out of existence because they believed that its participants were not capable of making their own judgments in terms of costs and benefits. In their higher wisdom, these elites would ban the sport for all.
Speaking of depraved college officials, Miller was speaking at Hillsdale College, where he teaches some form of bullshit or another.
In November, another right-wing wolf cloaked in family values sheepskin was unzipped to the American public. George Roche III resigned as president of conservative Hillsdale College in Michigan after accusations of a quasi-incestuous relationship with his daughter-in-law, Lissa.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Without Walter Camp, we wouldn't have the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

OBS said...

I bet Eliot would just love today's NCAA.

Smut Clyde said...

regulators bent on the dream of a world without risk

Yet there is nothing in Eliot's quoted concerns about "risk", only about the ungentlemanliness and vulgarity of competing in a code that encourages dishonorable behaviour, for the entertainment of hoi polloi.

Miller does not appear to be entirely sincere.

Substance McGravitas said...

Of COURSE he's sincere. He teaches journalism.

M. Bouffant said...

Miller just realizes that everything is a slippery slope. Any regulation & all is lost.

Responsible indeed to risk concussion & permanent brain damage. And free as you can be.

Smut Clyde said...

Miller just realizes that everything is a slippery slope.
And sure enough, here is BBBB saying "No, you can't toboggan down the slippery slope all the way to the bottom, there have to be regulations about stopping at some point."

Smut Clyde said...

For values of BBBB that include MB.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

BBBB contains multitudes.