Pigskin and Parchment: From October 12, 1929
The editor of our alert and entertaining contemporary, the Cincinnati Catholic Telegraph, recently found himself confronting what the Biler would call a “0 situation.” A Catholic institution had favored him with "three fourteen-inch pages of mimeograph matter," and he did not know what to do with it. To make his situation all the more perplexing, he explained, "this was merely Exhibit No. 1 in an assortment from a dozen institutions, running all the way from 200 to 2,000 words," and the sole topic treated in every exhibit was the glory of the college football team. The editor was not convinced that the publication of these bulletins from the front was "necessary to the cause of Catholic education." However, if competent investigators can convince him of error, then they will be blazoned on the pages of the Telegraph, "even if we have to omit all the advertising columns."
With the wisdom garnered from a century of experience, the Telegraph will solve its problem triumphantly. From us it needs neither sympathy nor advice; but withholding advice, we cannot refrain from expressing sympathy. We feel with the editor that something is wrong, or, rather, that something is wrong about the stress laid, respectively, on the pigskin and the parchment. It is all very well for our collegians to learn whatever is to be learned about the pigskin, from the moment it is kicked off to the moment it is carried over the goal line of the opponent. But devotion to the pigskin should not outshine devotion to the parchment which the college confers upon its hard-tested scholars after four years of learned toil.
Perhaps all this noisy football publicity does not mean much. Perhaps the student who yells and shouts from the stand, while his more muscular brethren on the field try to dismember the opposing team, does not represent the soul of dear old Siwash. He is merely its discord, its utterly useless by-product. But accepting that theory, why do our colleges, without let or hindrance from the faculty, give all their publicity to the by-product of the institution?
With the beginning of September, the sporting editors of our newspapers turn to the college. But the spire of the chapel, the ivied walls of the library, interest them not. Their bright young reporters hike them to the football training camp in the pines, or along the shores of the sounding sea. Hogboom, who can kick the ball "wan mile and wan inch," as Dooley says, and the gigantic Lavinski, who in a struggle under the goal posts picked up the man with the ball and flung him bodily over the line, now stand before the gaze of the public as the spirit of dear old Siwash. We read details touching upon personnel and costs—the coaches, attendants of various kinds, the railway fares, the training table laden with the substantial foods that make for physical well-being.
Is that dear old Siwash? Can we not have at least a line of publicity about the young fellows who came back two weeks earlier for private study? About the debating team which has a hard schedule this season—so hard, indeed, that the young men have returned three weeks earlier for research? About the new courses which Siwash proposes to offer this year, and the brilliant professors who will conduct them? About the laboratories which the college has just finished, and the superb collection of incunabula added to the library by a generous alumnus who hardly knows the difference between a fullback and a fumble?
Pigskin or parchment? What is a college for?