John DeWitt had more than one encounter that afternoon with Captain Rafferty of Yale. After the practice ended all the players gathered around the dummy, which had been very helpful in tackling practice. This had been saturated with kerosene awaiting the final event of the day. John DeWitt touched it off with a match, and the white “Y” which illuminated the chest of the dummy was soon enveloped in flames. A college tradition had been lived up to again, and when the team returned victorious from New Haven that year, John DeWitt and his loyal team mates never forgot those men and the events that helped to make victory possible.
MISTAKES IN THE GAME
Many a football player who reads this book will admit that there arises in all of us a keen desire to go back into the game. It is not so much a desire just to play in the game for the mere sake of playing as to remedy the mistakes we all know we made in the past.
In our football recollections, the defeats we have experienced stand out the most vividly. Sometimes they live on as nightmares through the years. As we review the old days we realize that we did not always give our best. If we could but go back and correct our faults many a defeat might be turned into a victory.
We reflect that if we had trained a little harder, if we had been more sincere in our work, paid better attention to the advice given us by the men who knew, if we had mastered our positions better, it would have been a different story on many occasions when defeat was our portion.
But that is now all behind us. The games are over. The scores will always stand. Others have taken our places. We have had our day and opportunity. In the words of Longfellow,
“The world belongs to those who come the last.”
Our records will remain as we left them on the gridiron. Many a man is recalled in football circles as the one who lost his temper in the big games and caused his team to suffer by his being ruled out of the game. Men say, “Why, that is the fellow who muffed a punt at a critical moment,” or recall him as the one who “fumbled the ball,” when, if he had held it, the team would have been saved from defeat.
You recall the man who gave the signals with poor judgment. Maybe you are thinking of the man who missed a great tackle or allowed a man to get through the line and block a kick. Perhaps a mistaken signal in the game caused the loss of a first down, maybe defeat—who knows?
Through our recollection of the things we should have done but failed to do for one reason or another, our defeats rise before us more vividly now than our victories.
There is only one day to make good and that is the day of the game. The next day is too late.
Then there is the ever-present recollection of the fellow who let athletics be the big thing in his college life. He did not make good in the classroom. He was unfair to himself. He failed to realize that athletics was only a part of his college life, that it should have been an aid to better endeavor in his studies.