"It's More Than A Game. It's An Institution"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: As a young man of nineteen, Tom Brown spends his last day at Rugby playing cricket against a rival school. It is an important match, and Tom, as befits a senior boy who is a good cricket man, is captain of the Rugby eleven. As the game progresses, he sits with his friend Arthur and a young faculty member who has taken an interest in him. The young master tries to draw an analogy for Tom and Arthur, pointing out that they see much more of the fine technique of cricket than he, because they are interested and have studied it. He goes on to say that Tom, had he spent as much effort on his Greek, could have just as much insight into, say, an Aristophanic comedy like The Knights as anyone, and so enjoy his studies much more. Tom takes this observation good-humoredly, as he has learned to like this particular faculty member and has grown up enough to cease regarding his teachers as, at best, friendly enemies. As they watch, the young master learns some of the finer points of the game and comments to Tom and Arthur:

"Come, none of your irony, Brown," answers the master. "I'm beginning to understand the game scientifically. What a noble game it is, too!"
"Isn't it? But it's more than a game. It's an institution," said Tom.
"Yes," said Arthur, "the birthright of British boys old and young, as habeas corpus and trial by jury are of British men."
"The discipline and reliance on one another which it teaches is so valuable, I think," went on the master, "it ought to be such an unselfish game. It merges the individual in the eleven; he doesn't play that he may win, but that his side may."
"That's very true," said Tom, "and that's why football and cricket . . . are such much better games than fives or hare-and-hounds, or any others where the object is to come in first or to win for one's self, and not that one's side may win."