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Feb. 24, 2010

Vol. 110, No. 9

Time to end a sport?

It was noted that Penn beat Princeton in sprint football 91–13! Ninety-one is a basketball score. Because of its dismal performance over the years, it appears that Princeton cannot compete effective­ly in the sprint-football league against the likes of Army, Navy etc.  

In these budget-conscious times, it may be prudent to discontinue the sport and use the funds for other athletic ­programs.

Stephen J. Bednar ’60
Lorton, Va.

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3 Responses to Time to end a sport?

Richard Hagner '09 Says:

2010-02-24 09:29:10

I would like to respond to Dr. Bednar’s suggestions of cutting the Sprint Football program. While I appreciate his opinion, I do not appreciate his tactic of trying to make his point through embarrassing the team and its players through highlighting a lopsided score. As someone who recently spent four years on the team, Sprint Football was one of the hallmarks of my Princeton experience even though we only won one game during my tenure. However, I was able to compete in a sport that I loved at a collegiate level with other dedicated teammates and I was proud to continue on a tradition that has been at Princeton for over 75 years. The team maintains a strong alumni base that would never allow Dr. Bednar’s suggestion to come to fruition and even scrimmages the current squad every fall before their first game. I know my former teammates and fellow Sprint Football alumni will agree that we were all able to experience something as a part of that team that we could never find in a college classroom. Sprint Football is the only varsity sport at Princeton that is exclusively open to “walk-ons” and does not rely on recruits, a unique opportunity that many students have taken advantage of. Despite the present economic climate, I believe that it is important for Princeton to maintain programs like these that have offered so much for decades, and continue to expand the opportunities that it offers to its students.

Arthur "P.J." Chew '95, President Friends of Sprint Football Says:

2010-03-03 09:27:41

I find it very surprising that a former 150-pound football player would propose the end of sprint football at Princeton. He should know that the donations of his fellow sprint football alumni have created an endowment that is large enough to fund all the costs for the program. Ending the program would not provide any additional economic benefit to Princeton and might have a negative effect, as many of our 1,400 members would become alienated. The program has not been very competitive in recent history. The lightweight team has compiled a 4-78 record since the Fall of 1998, when the program was stripped of admission slots. In the 10 years prior to 1998, the program received 6 admission slots, had a competitive record and even won the 1989 championship. Currently, sprint football is the only varsity sport that is comprised completely of walk-on athletes and does not receive any assistance through admissions, although our competition at Penn and Cornell does receive help through the admission process. In addition, the sprint football team is the only varsity sport on campus that does not have a full-time university employee as its head coach. While it is difficult to run a program made up of entirely walk-ons, the coaching staff has done an outstanding job. The program still remains popular on campus and the coaches do an excellent job of providing numerous experiences that can not be taught in a classroom. In addition, the alumni have tackled the challenge of finding sprint football players with recent attempts to increase awareness of the sport and the university among high school students around the country, especially in the urban environments that Princeton is targeting for new applicants. We are also trying to increase the yield of accepted students by emphasizing to potential players that a similar program does not exist at Stanford, Harvard, or Yale. One of the lessons that football taught me is to get up after I am knocked down and not to quit. While the program may be down now, the current players of the Princeton sprint football team and its alumni will never quit, and we will continue to develop innovative ways of finding players for the program so that someday our program can be successful again.

Joe Salerno '84 Says:

2010-03-03 14:00:32

I was stunned that Stephen Bednar ’60 suggested the end of the Sprint Football at Princeton. He is the first former player in my experience who does not enthusiastically support the program despite the recent spate of losing seasons. Sprint is for those who were told their whole lives that they were too small to play football but still strapped on the pads for the love of the game. They endure about the same amount of toil and pain as their heavyweight colleagues, even though they will never enjoy the same kind of attention. Instead of glory, Sprint footballers get a few moments of on-field exhilaration and lessons about discipline, dedication and teamwork that last a lifetime (for most of us). Instead of dumping Sprint, the University should promote it actively. After its record-setting losing streak, Princeton Sprint Football is now the ultimate underdog for the ultimate team sport. Every student who played football in high school should certainly join and athletes of other sports should give it consideration. After all, playing football is undoubtedly the best way to spend a Friday night in the fall.
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