Interscholastics: A Discussion of Interscholastic Contests
By Charles W. Whitten. Published in 1950.
Really interested in IHSA history? In this memoir, C. W. Whitten, the association's first executive director, recounts many interesting twists in the development of the IHSA and elaborates on his vision for interscholastic policy.
This is an original hardcover edition with linen cover, never opened.
Responsibility of the Principal
The first of the rules needing special emphasis is the one which establishes the authority and responsibility of the principal of the member high school. From the viewpoint of our efforts to make the interscholastic athletics contribute to the educational objectives of the school, this is probably the most essential regulation in the entire code, whether of eligibility rules or of rules to govern competition. The very moment the control of the interscholastic program is taken out of the principal's hands and lodged in any other individual or group, whether it be some other member of the high school faculty, or some committee of the board of education or the board of education itself, or a committee of teachers, board members, alumni, "prominent" citizens or whatnot, the very foundation of our elaborately constructed organization is destroyed, and the entire imposing edifice of hopes for ethical educational outcomes topples.
On early eligibility standards:
It is possible that some groups of high schools may have adopted some elementary codes of competition by the middle 1890's, but I have not been able to find any such codes. I have heard many wild stories of practices that seem to have been common. It seems to have been a generally accepted rule that team members should actually be students in the schools they represented on the athletic field, but gross violations of even this elementary principle of good sportsmanship were said to be common enough. If occasion seemed to warrant it, the butcher's or the blacksmith's apprentice or the village's budding pugilist was drafted to lend strength to the team. A city superintendent of one of the larger cities of Illinois told me himself that in the early days when he was coach in a Northern Illinois city, his football team seemed to be getting rather the worst of it in a game with a neighboring school, whereupon he rushed to the dressing room, donned a uniform, and substituted himself in the line. His team, he reported, did much better thereafter.
It seems that there were no age limits, no scholastic requirements, and even "membership" in the school was subject to very vague interpretation. Thus in one case which came under my own observation, two football players, whose chief qualification for the game must be expressed in terms of tonnage, took only spelling in their school and were required to be present only ten minutes per day.
On the propriety of the state basketball tournament:
The question is: Is this spectacular entertainment a proper or desirable school function? Are we justified in devoting to it so large a measure of time and thought and energy as it now demands? Is it not true that as long as we persist in making it the end goal of four months or more of strenuous and intensive specialized training for a relatively small number chosen from among our many thousands of boys, it is inevitable that it excludes a host of minor athletic activities that in the long run might make a very much greater contribution to the individual and the school, or in its wider implications even to national or world-wide human welfare? More than one entertaining spectacle in our modern life could be eliminated with resulting benefit to the social order.