Earl Blaik newspaper article on football brutality

Ends, Really Got, Hit. Not only the Parent-Teachers Assn. but The Society for the Preservation of Cruelty to, Ends would stampede college, football into oblivion, if it were played today as it used to be. To eliminate brutality, the forward pass was legalized in 1906. But for more than a decade later, tackles still wrapped inches of bicycle tape around their hands to belabor the heads of ends until they rang like Chinese gongs.

It was in such a climate that I practiced on the West Point Plain in 1919 as one of a brood of ends under Assistant Coach Louis Merillat, a great star both on the football and the battle fields. Major Merillat tried to teach us to protect ourselves. But the director of the scene was the canny and then famous line coach, Col. Ernest (Pot) Graves.

Graves exhorted his tackles to maltreat the ends. "Let's see some- blood," he demanded over and over again. He didn't bellow. He merely spoke in an ominously controlled monotone. And there was just enough blood in evidence to show the tackles were learning their lessons well. Brutaility Gone Now

Today, football by comparison is almost gentle and kind. It is just as tough, but the brutality has been expunged.. Good rules have contributed. So has the concept of'strategy and tactics. Move, mint, maneuver and possession have replaced position, and stagnation relieved only by a break. Today's game is much more demanding in the overall. It requires the stubborness of a bulldozer, the dexterity of a ballet dancer, the mental agility of a chess player and, for a pass receiver, the supple hands of a Hawaiian maiden.

It is a game that demands courage, as it always did, but also exacts self control. The demands of speed, technique and mental agility should preclude any time for, duty football. It is a game of selflessness, work and spartanism. It has, many rewards, but none to compare with the satisfaction of being part of a group effort that leads to victory. Defeat merely accentuates the compulsion to do better. It is a game in which youngsters from the so-called, wrong and right sides of the track force a reciprocal respect. It is a game whose demands of body contact, while violating the natural reaction of lying, teach a most important lesson of life.

It Is a game every youngster, not physically disqualified, should play, not necessarily at the varsity level, but at a sultable level where the risks of body contact still pose a challenge from which he will refuse to retreat. It is a tough game but not a brutal game, and that is why it is so typically American.


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