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In 1932, as a part of Gettysburg College's Centennial observance, Dr. Samuel G. Hefelbower '91, a quondam member of the faculty and from 1904 to 1910 President of the College, wrote and edited a largely filiopietistic volume entitled A History of Gettysburg College, 1832-1932. In this 446-page narrative. Dr. Hefelbower devoted considerable space to the development of extracurricular life on the campus. He allotted forty pages to the rise of Greek letter fraternities. eight pages to the Woman's League. and nine additional pages to such now-defunct student pursuits as the Bible Society, the Linnaean Society, and the Y.M.C.A. Honorary fraternities and departmental societies took up eleven more pages. Yet he made only three references to athletics. and together they totaled but fifteen lines of print or less than half a page.

One might conclude from the good doctor's treatment that sports had attracted, up to 1932 at least, but minuscule interest on the part of Gettysburg undergraduates. That this was not the case is made clear by perusing the columns of student publications, the minutes of innumerable faculty meetings, and certainly in consulting the recollections of old grads. The fortunes of the College's intercollegiate athletic teams played a much larger part in life on the campus. Moreover, if the athletic program then, or now, served any viable educational purpose, a claim often advanced for it. surely it deserves more attention than Dr. Hefelbower gave it.

Some members of the campus community cherish the notion that competitive athletics have no place in institutions of higher learning. In their view, intercollegiate sports programs. particularly in our own day, constitute a supine surrender by academia to anti-intellectualism and commercialism. Such distractions, contend these critics, represent an aberration, if not a perversion, in the educational process - an obstacle in the long struggle of Western Man to liberate himself from ignorance. [excerpt]

Publication Date



Gettysburg College


Gettysburg, PA


Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania College, Intercollegiate Athletics, College Sports, Sports History


Cultural History | History | Social History | Sports Studies | United States History


Volume 4 of Gettysburg College's History Series. The Gettysburg College History Series was a series of monographs on various aspects of College history published in anticipation of the 150th anniversary of its 1832 founding.

Document Type


Intercollegiate Athletics at Gettysburg College, 1879-1919