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February 27 , 2008

Football How To Watch It


The reader who wants to know how to listen to music or what to observe in a picture gallery may readily find all this information conveniently gathered in book form. Accordingly, it is fitting that to this informative library there should be added a book of football for the spectator. I maintain that football is an art as well as a sport. Percy Haughton belongs without doubt among the old masters. Of course, his position is complicated a little by the fact that he is also in the ranks of the moderns.

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Still another difficulty is raised by the question of just which branch of art embraces football. Mr. Haughton realizes its analogies to war, but I think that there are features which qualify the game for a place in the field of liberal arts as well. There is a striking resemblance, for instance, between the best of Harvard football and any characteristic story by O. Henry. To be sure, every football play is in a sense a short narrative. First come the signals of the quarterback. That is the preliminary exposition. Then the plot thickens, action becomes intense and a climax is reached whereby the mood of tragedy or comedy is established.

But the resemblance between Haughton football and O. Henry is more special than this. Deception is an important factor in the technique of both the coach and the writer. Often there is a well developed feint to fool the reader or the opposing line as the case may be. Everybody thinks he knows how it is coming out when suddenly we have the surprising flash of the trick finish. "By Jove," says the reader, laying down the book, "I never thought of that." And the Yale defensive back, picking himself up, says much the same thing though perhaps somewhat differently expressed. Like O. Henry, Haughton seems to have specialized in happy endings. .....

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