The Ergonometer (Erg) was developed by William Cranston and his son, Willy, in 1928. The word is built from the Greek, ergon (work), and the machine is used to measure the output of a group of muscles. I will not go into detail concerning technique — stroke-rate, pacing etc. — because many of these developments antedate the historical period of the Erg’s invention with which we are presently concerned.
Cranston senior was penetrated by the idea for the device for a variety of reasons, some of which, I will show, are inextricably linked to a sinister symbolic structure that has since remained a part of the Erg. But the mental machinations that first gave rise to the manifold plans are traceable back to the simple fact that Cranston junior, Willy, was a talented rower with no water in which to row. As a boy of twelve, Willy had been exposed to the science of rowing at his uncle’s lakeside villa in Massachusetts and had shown the requisite physical dexterity and mental bluntness — he possessed a large, sturdy glabellum with little behind it — to excel. Also, he was a depressive.
But Minnesota, where Willy lived alone with his father (his mother had sadly and suddenly passed away when he was only eight), contains much more frozen than liquid water. And after it became clear to Cranston senior, a perspicacious man with access to Willy’s copious diary entries, that Willy would have no success (in life) if he didn’t pursue rowing, he was possessed by this idea: he would create a machine that allowed his son to practice the sport on land.
The Rubber Band Model
Cranston senior’s first model consisted of a single, thick rubber rope. He made the prototype out of many smaller rubber bands, which he braided together into large skeins before attaching them to each other; but the subsequent and official version was made from tempered South American rubber, which was being refined at a factory near Cranston’s house.
The model was simple: one thick, wide piece of rubber (approximately 3.5 ft. long and 8 in. wide) tapered into two mastoidal hand-holds (“utters,” presumably Cranston meant “udders”) at one end and had two small incisions at the other into which Willy could slip his feet. Willy was a large boy for his age, nearly six feet tall by the time he was 14, but he had small hands and even smaller feet, something that may or may not be a relevant factor in the following developments. (See Cranston’s notes, included below.)
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With hands on the udders and feet in the slits, the boy could pull up with his arms and kick down with his feet while lying on his back, which would simultaneously persuade his pectorals, his deltoids, his biceps, his quadriceps, his calves, and his abdominals into the clenched position. At the time, rubber had been used strictly for lower or upper body exercise, but it had not been employed to achieve both simultaneously. Thus, William had already made a dramatic step forward, a romping stomp upward, in the use of plastics and their derivatives in calisthenics.
But this first step on the long walk to follow also landed William on a dangerous and rotted subconscious stump. First, the use of the band always began and ended in the fetal position for the boy: Willy would lie on his back, tuck his knees up to this chest and grab the udders in order to begin pushing out and flexing the muscles. Then he would inevitably return to the same position and begin again. When he had finished exercising, he would be forced to assume to the fetal position one final time to free and remove his feet.
Regardless of the machine’s other infelicities, to which I will return, this fact alone belies a complex beneath Cranston senior’s seemingly benign plan. He had developed a machine intending to help his son, but his most natural solution was also one that repeatedly forced his son back into the womb, so to speak. The very point of the exercise was that Willy continuously be pulled back into the fetal position so that the process could recommence (so that the muscles could be properly aggravated). Thus commencement and termination both occurred in the fetal arrangement. (We would understand if the machine began with a fetal structure and helped the boy progress naturally toward adulthood, but can we accept this arrangement without prodding slightly deeper?)
And as it happens, only a slight prod reveals that this early model also malfunctioned quite often, most commonly when the band broke. This would always occur when Willy was stretched out from (temporarily free from) the fetal constraints, and consequentially, the band would snap back smacking him in the face. What might have only been vagaries of design before, now begin to crystallize: at the moment of release, the moment when the young Cranston breaks out of the imposed constraints, he is physically abused by the machine. Kraus’ standing model fails to explain this point.
The complex we see here is complicated because, not the father, but one of his creations is attempting to waylay the son. Put formally, one of the father’s creations is attempting to destroy the other (because it has the father’s tacit, subconscious, blueprinted support). Though we are in the realm usually termed callisthenic by its practitioners, psychologists will recognize strains of an artistic complex, whereby animate creation becomes subordinate to inanimate.
And if we glance only fleetingly at the name William gave the hand-holds — udders — must we not begin to suspect that his sinister inclinations were more entrenched in his psyche than he may have suspected, that they emerged from the body of his subconscious like an underwater flatulence at the moment that he first decided to help his son, and were only now beginning to burst onto the stagnant bathwater above? Should we not, then, look even deeper and see if we cannot find the source of his indigestion lodged in this design, maybe even tracing it to its location before its consumption by William? And maybe then, once we have located the foul piece of psychological pork or dirty salad, we can retroactively slip William an Imodium through analysis and prevent the rumblings that still plague users of the Ergonometer today.
Because the machine was so obviously flawed, Cranston senior finally decided to make some modifications to the design: he fixed the rubber band to a cleat in the ground outside (that fetid fart is with us again). This was already a complicated process because the rubber band would rip if fixed directly to the cleat and it was unclear how he would reinforce the end without destroying the rubber. William finally settled on the idea of tapering the rubber at the end that had once had the incisions while strengthening it in the middle. The main part of the band would be wide and the end would be thick and cylindrical, so that he could tie it to the cleat like a rope.
Only now did William really begin to demonstrate his genius. As mentioned, he was faced with the difficult task of ensuring that the machine would pump both his son’s legs and his upper body. He had solved this problem earlier by making the band the only piece of equipment, but his cleat urged him to rethink the process.
He first decided to place, at the base of the cleat, a cinderblock on which Willy could brace his legs. But this still only allowed the boy to work his arms; there was no mechanism for pushing with the legs. Here (the incredible moment) Cranston senior came upon the idea of placing a tarp under Willy, which he would lubricate with goose fat (Vaseline had yet to be invented). Willy would be able to push with his legs and pull with his arms while allowing his buttocks to slide back and forth on the tarp. Though this motion may seem suspicious, I do not want to overlook the massive stroke of brilliance. Indeed, without knowing it, William had created a machine that not only worked the proper muscles but also mimicked the motions of rowing. Soon he changed the handles from udders to grips upon his son’s request (are we surprised?) so that the entire process would faithfully resemble the activity after which it was modeled. (See below)
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Needless to say, Willy loved the machine. He spent hours each day sliding back and forth on the tarp and grunting. It was also at this point that the machine received its tentative nickname: Erg, an onomatopoeic word meant to evoke the sounds made by the son. Naturally, it is only coincidence that this corresponds so nicely with the later technical term, Ergonometer, and I will return to the onomatopoeic fallacy later.
The cleat is significant here, specifically because the father had to change the shape of the rubber in order to stop it from ripping the hole. This led to an elongated noodle-end (for a moment we have an udder/noodle arrangement) and the noodle (need I even mention it) is fecal and phallic, resembling both a perfectly formed turd and a male shaft to correspond to the udders at the opposite end. The entire contraption was distended during use (by the son), and before the udders change hand-holds, we see the common cleat-teat relationship when the son pulls on them, simultaneously putting pressure on the cleat.
We are now entering a veritable imbroglio of symbolically relevant information. The formal structures are in place and the particulars are rubbing up against them in a manner quite distinct from Willy’s smooth rump and the well-lubricated tarp, though the rump may have remained slightly chafed. But before dunking under the soapy bath water to find the miasmatic source of all this, I would like to sketch the subsequent changes in this machine so I can properly analyze the structures that gave rise to it.
Keys for this section: teats (*udders), fetal position, repeated remonstration (by machine user), and finally, physical abuse by the machine itself. Dichotomies: cleat-teat, noodle-udder, fecal-phallic.
It soon became clear that even this modified cleat version was faulty. After many hours on the machine one day — Willy had gotten quite strong — the cleat came loose, and, as Willy pulled back, it flew out of the ground and into his mouth, crushing nearly all his lateral incisors and frontals. For the sake of propriety, I do not wish to go deeply into this detail. I will allow the reader to delve in him- or herself: the father’s cleat crushing the son’s jaw.
William rushed his son to the emergency room, or so his notebooks tell us, and Willy remained there for two weeks while surgeons tried and failed to rebuild his jaw and replace his festering eye with a glass prosthesis. Willy, it turned out, also suffered from some strange sickness of the heart first seen on a systolary seismograph; and, mildly scrofulous in appearance when he arrived, the doctors tested him and found strains of a slimy substance in his esophagus. All quite hard to pronounce; nothing fatal.
The Salad-Spinner Model
The salad-spinner was discovered in Minnesota around the time of Willy’s accident, and William had come into possession of the device almost immediately (it had already existed for the best part of ten years in New York). William quickly began taking it apart with an eye to a new design, and he was most probably tinkering with it when his son was cleated, suggesting that Willy drove himself to the doctor illegally. The accident, in turn, galvanized William to complete the drawings for a new machine.
The first illustration, nothing less than a lucubration, is roughly an enormous salad-spinner on top of an even larger bowl of salad. The user would brace his legs against the bowl and pull back vigorously thereby spinning the large quantity of salad and forcing his pectorals, his deltoids, his biceps, his quadriceps, his calves and his abdominals into the turgid state. Here William was still convinced of the efficacy of the lubricated tarp, and he envisioned his son spinning the salad and slipping back and forth on the tarp (that foul odor). He did not recognize that Willy wouldn’t be using enough muscular power because the spinner would pull him back in with its own force.
In spite of his delusions about the tarp, William was visited by a stroke of genius in the field of energetics: he realized that the measure of salad would not only determine the resistance of the rope, but that the salad could also be used to feed the boy. By feeding the boy salad while he worked, Cranston senior also realized that he could measure his boy’s energy output. The amount that Willy would burn while using the machine would determine the number of calories (in leaves of salad). Soon William recognized that this could be done more effectively with other foods. Meat, for instance, would be harder to burn and less of it would be needed to provide the proper amount of resistance. Thus, his first drawing is of a meat spinner.
Cranston senior was full of promising plans, but he had a very rudimentary understanding of the digestive system, which was limited to the mouth, the stomach, and the rectum. Willy’s knowledge, because of the basic biology he had learned during his intermittent visits to school, included, in addition, both of the intestines; he was (astonishingly) also aware of the osmotic processes that occur at the end of digestion in the larger intestine. Finally, and most importantly, Willy was able to tell his father by signaling to his mouth and then to a pile of feces that digestion takes nearly eight hours, after which Cranston senior quickly recognized that there was no way to measure the energy output by stuffing his son. William was forced to give up this part of the plan, but he kept the salad-spinner, simply erasing salad and other comestibles from the blueprint.
Unfortunately, now that he had been awakened to the possibility of measuring his son’s output, he must have been unable to let it drop because his notes suggest new plans to keep the idea afloat. He decided to place the spinner on a tarp and place the tarp on an inclined surface with a receptacle at the bottom of the incline. The collection of Willy’s sweat in the receptacle could then be used to judge total energy output over time. Again, we can see the holes in William’s knowledge of human physiognomy and physical processes: sweat is relative to circumstance and individual (not to mention that it evaporates). Unfortunately Willy was not in possession of this knowledge either, so his father eloped with the plan. His written notes, which I have not included, go into excruciating detail concerning the proper time of day to exercise in order to keep sweat levels constant, as well as the important variables (time of year, diet, etc.).
Soon, however, William discovered a tidbit of information from his drawings that he had ignored, suppressed rather: the machine would require Willy to practice naked in order for the sweat to flow directly from his body down the tarp in little rivulets and come together in a brackish pond at the bottom. And we know from Cranston senior’s notes and drawings — though things get messy here: how was the lubrication supposed to function without impeding sweat collection? — that he felt strange about asking his son to practice naked. Or rather, we can tell from the way he approached this project with gusto in his notebooks that he must have been deeply disappointed at having to toss aside fully unveiled plans only because his son required a coverlet in which to exercise.
But these hesitations only spurred William towards a modified blueprint for his new model, and incredibly, the first prototype followed on the heels of this disaster. He built the machine as planned, but instead of having his son practice naked, he swaddled him in layers of clothing, which he would weigh before and after the exercise to measure the sweat emissions soaked up by the cloth. (Swaddling: we have moved from the womb to the natal stage.)
William built the spinner using the larger tire of a penny-farthing. He took the rubber off the wheel and in its place he wrapped a long piece of rope around the metal frame. A piece of metal tubing was fixed to the center hole of the wheel and rose up nearly two feet. He fixed another piece of tubing in the floor behind the wheel. A piece of rubber attached these two tubes so that the more the wheel turned (as Willy pulled it) the more resistance it gave. (William had effectively taken a salad spinner and turned it inside out.) (See below.)
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The machine was so effective that Willy’s porous body relieved itself of 13 lbs. of liquid and remained in a soporific state for two days after his first exercise. Father Cranston, we know from his diagrams, made modifications: he added a seat that slid on rails, eliminating the goose fat, and created proper foot-holds. These allowed Willy more control, and soon, after he and his father had worked out the proper amount of swaddling, the machine became highly functional.
At this point the Erg reached the iteration that is best known today, and it also became a topic of interest for rowing enthusiasts around the country. But before I push on to the astonishing conclusion of this history, a very brief but informative digression is necessary.
Alternate (Slanderous) Theories of the History of the Ergonometer
Though important, I hesitate to include the second of these in my research for fear that its vulgarity will offend the genteel reader, but I must. I must.
Onomatopoeic: As already mentioned, according to this theory, the Ergonometer had been developed to replicate naturally the sound made by rowers while they rowed. In this respect, the Erg, (claimed its competitors) was far inferior to the Arg, which was a more faithful representation of the sound made, but whose design was entirely based on a purloined facsimile of William’s blueprints. Needless to say, these rumors have been dispelled by the brief history above.
Auto-Fellatic: Purists — rowers who believed that water was the only suitable environment in which to practice the sport — quickly tried to show how both the Erg and the Arg developed from a project to enable auto-fellatio. Allegedly, the repeated pulling and pushing on the machine differed from the equivalent on a narrow boat, and as a result created minute fractures in the lower gastralia (similar to those experienced by the oviparous New Zealand Kiwi whose egg is nearly 1/3 the size of its body) and these eventually allowed for a deep doubling over of the torso. I go no further.
These theories, which plagued the initial popularity of the machine, soon fell aside; and after a brief latency period, the Erg was purchased and placed in colleges across America and England, later Ireland as well, though there was an embargo instated by England to give the two countries an advantage over the third (never officially admitted).
Regardless, the theories reveal the structure of the machine itself. The Erg’s very design, merely because it is conducive to the base auto-fellatic interpretation, is clearly dependent on a subservient and destructive relationship between father and son. (We can only speculate as to the significance of the auto-fellatic interpretation in light of the fact that both father and son shared the same name.)
The Structure of the “Coach”
Willy soon became an excellent rower in spite of the oral and ocular destruction precipitated by earlier versions of the machine. At this point he had become a veritable ogre. He was six-foot four and weighed nearly 250 lbs. In addition, because of his jaw and eye, part of his face had collapsed making his head appear even smaller than it did initially, the large forehead being the only remaining bastion for the possibility of sentient life. Naturally, this physicality lent itself to the sport.
With Willy’s fame came attention and questions, specifically as to how he had practiced while living in rural Minnesota. Though he was unable to answer them, it was at this point that William fully brought his machine to the public, and there it was explanation enough. Swiftly dubbed the Ergonometer, it was subsequently perfected by large factories and distributed around the world.
From what we are able to glean, Willy was recruited by one of crew teams in England, though it has been impossible to determine which; his father seems to have stayed in Minnesota. Over the next three years, Willy established and broke a number of Erg records both in England and America, and in his final year of school in England, his father seems to have followed him there, having been hired as a coach.
Coaches today are often regarded structurally in terms of a symbolic relationship that mirrors and amplifies the father-son dichotomy, but this is traceable through the development and implementation of Erg-style training. The way in which William Cranston’s invention pushed his son (without William prodding the boy himself) is structurally similar to the way in which the Erg machine allowed the coaches to pressure young men while keeping a paternal distance. The Erg machine isolates the rower and makes what was originally a team activity into an individual affair, separating each person from the others and putting each in a symbolic relationship with the coach (who becomes father). Before the Erg, the team was in a professionally structured relationship with the coach that allowed individual attentions, but did not emphasize them over the group’s relationship with the individual.
Also, once the machine was taken up, the nature of the kind of men in charge of rowing preparation changed dramatically. The older men living vicariously (but happily) through the younger men on the boats, were quickly replaced by bedeviled middle-aged men (forties) whose inability to compete paired with the opportunity to judge individuals on the team changed the practice of coaching. To clarify, before the Erg, the coach could not accompany the men out onto the water, so his role was inevitably limited to advice, etc. But after the new developments, the coach could be present at the moment of preparation and was therefore able to push each man unrestrainedly. Also, the Erg (which had been modified to allow the measurement of energy output within two years of its presentation) could now be used to judge and compare the muscle packets and pockets of individual men.
This dynamic between coach and team must have been further complicated when the relationship between William and Willy became evident during Willy’s last year of college, though we have no documentation. In the midst of many individual symbolic relationships, through a machine to the man who had invented the machine and was the coach (this adds a further knot), there was (obviously) an actual father-son relationship. Willy and William, in turn, were forced to maintain both tiers of this structure — the symbolic and the particular — and the particular, as we have seen from the machine’s creation, had symbolic undertones as well. The maintenance of both halves of this structure must have bled into the team, overwhelming father and son. I say, “must have” because we have limited evidence for what finally ensued, though enough to include it here.
Towards the end of the season, it seems Willy’s father put Willy on an Erg that had been manipulated to show a lower output score. Willy worked himself to exhaustion trying to raise the score, reverting to the “swaddled model” in order to lose weight. Clearly, he did this last bit in a desperate attempt to prove his loyalty to a coach through the shared history he had with his father. But when this failed, the Cranston boy finally worked himself to death and was found swathed in layers of sports clothing and bound in the fetal position by the rubber device he had constructed. (This is painful, so I will say no more.)
William (we are not positive it was actually William) adopted all the men on the English crew team during the time that Willy was working himself to death (though we do not know unequivocally that it was Willy). And finally, when Willy did die, William disappeared leaving a large group of fatherless men to create the hostile Ergosphere that we know today.
There is no easy way to summarize the study of a phenomenon whose results have become so structurally ubiquitous. I would only like to suggest (and I hope I have shown) that the latter part of this history could have been predicted from the first three models according to my interpretation, and that the Krausian demonstration is unequivocally false. The rubber band, the cleat, and the swaddled spinner are structurally significant enough to paint a picture similar to the one that history has shown us, if we understand the symbolic undertones; the William-Willy reduction to a single man gives us no hope of untangling the machine from its history.
It is my sincere belief that today, with a proper explanation in place, we can begin to look at the Erg in a new light and rethink the way it is implemented. Maybe this history will convince the reader (as it has convinced me) that the Erg should be entirely effaced and that a new device should be invented, based roughly on the models we have, but without their history. If this is done correctly, we will not only free the sport in general from the dangerous and false Masochistic Hypothesis that plagues it, but also from the true history, rife with destructive symbolism, which I have unveiled here.
I only hope that this paper will be treated with extreme care, as it could easily, if the ideas herein were disseminated, give justification to many latent feelings concerning the sport that have yet to be properly articulated under the Masochistic heading. I hope that this will reach only delicate eyes, and that facile fingers will undertake the appropriate actions before the repute of athletics in general is further besmirched by the public at large.
1. Michael Kraus, the only other significant commentator on the history of the Ergonometer, offers a different, but I do not hesitate to say, highly dubious theory that William and Willy were actually one person. I will return to this later in the paper, but it is worth noting that he cites the similarity in name — an American tradition that he has fundamentally misunderstood — as initial evidence for his claim. Kraus’ simple mistake has provided the foundation for his Masochistic Hypothesis, a historico-phychological explanation of rowing that points to a single origin in William Cranston, who, Kraus claims, designed the machine for self-abuse. As I will show, though ubiquitous, this dangerous thesis has little ground to begin with, and even less once we debunk some of Kraus’ outrageous later claims.
2. For a comprehensive description of these see: Glottle, A. A. Pacing your Stroke, Rating your Pace. Chicago: KE Sportspecific, 1984.
3. A diary entry November 1926 — “ I am depressed.” — clearly suggests this and the aforementioned mental sclerosis.
4. For those unfamiliar with the technique of rowing, it is a process both of pushing down with the legs and of heaving with the arms. Thus it requires strength in multiple muscle clusters. Again, see: Glottle, A. A. Pacing your Stroke, Rating your Pace. Chicago: KE Sportspecific, 1984.
5. According to Kraus, who must have taken the diagram sideways, Willy begins in a crouched position and then stands up, stretching his arms outward until he reached full erection (Kraus uses the German “ganz steif”, which, like “erection,” preserves the innuendo). From here Kraus falsely argues that the symbolic substitution of pain for pleasure (muscle tension for orgasm) is a clear indication of William’s self-flagellatory instincts. He also suggests the similarity between the “loneliness” (“Einsamkeit”) of masturbation, which is similarly present in the machine. Naturally, had he turned the drawings ninety degrees to the left, he would have seen his mistake.
6. We know from a diary entry that Willy lost his right eye to the rubber band: “My rite iy is gon.” Kraus mistakenly translates this, “Mein rictes ic ist wek” preserving the misspelling of “rite” and “gon” in the German “rictes” and “wek” but mistaking Willy’s botched “iy” for a strange English variation of the first person pronoun. Translated back into English, Kraus’s translation reads, “My rite I is gon”, from which he extrapolates that Willy lost his right, (that is, his correct) self and not his right eye. In this Kraus claims to find support for his fallacious theory that father and son were one person suffering from Bipersonal Disorder.
7. Because of the way he was reading the diagrams, Kraus took the cleat to be fixed in a wall. Willy would then hang vertically against the wall, hands on the rubber grips, and try to pull himself towards the cleat. Though Kraus’ misreading became the basis for another exercise, the Inclined Crunch, he entirely failed to grasp this step in the design process.
8. Kraus argues that this model would have failed for the simple reason that Willy’s buttocks would not have moved properly (“hätte sich nicht richtig bewegt […] hätte sich garnicht bewegt”) on the given lubricant. Here he cites the 19th century French bird specialist, Debois, who, in a paper titled, Du Canard au Cygne (From Duck to Swan), argues that bird fat can only be used for cooking: “…et en tout cas le gras d’oie, c’est seulement pour faire la haute cuisine” (“…and in any case, goose fat can only be used for high cuisine”). This oversight in the father’s design, claims Kraus, can only signify that he was not actually creating a machine that could be used by his son to exercise but one that could be used by him (the father) as a kind of basic self-torture device where skin was rubbed from the buttocks. It has since been brought to light, however (see Mireland Fleicher’s famous Baking in 19th Century France) that Du Canard au Cygne is a French cookbook.
9. Corroborated by an entry in the boy’s diary: “Daddy dint take me.”
10. This is the last of Willy’s entries. Kraus postulates, and here I agree with him, that the user of the machine would have had such strong and chafed fingers from the udders that pens and pencils would have become ungraspable. (Here Kraus offers evidence from his own childhood: he didn’t learn how to write, he tells us, until he was nearly 12 because he spent so much time milking the family cow that his hands crushed every writing implement with which he was presented. In a footnote of his own, he jokes that for many years his parents thought he was mentally deficient.)
11. Kraus spends an enormous amount of time expounding on this false explanation, and arguing that, though he acknowledges its falsity, he sees it as a clear indication that the creator of the machine was the same as the user, hence the emphasis on auto in the theory. But we must be clear here: even if the machine had been designed and used by one and the same person (though all the evidence says otherwise) that person would have been much less masochistic (according to the auto-fellatic claims) than selfish and self-serving. Kraus has looked only at the superficial structure of autoeroticism, ignoring the fact that it undermines his greater Masochistic Hypothesis. If the machine had painlessly created fractures in the lower gastralia so that its user could pleasure himself, how could it have been accused of rooting the sport in a tradition of self-abuse? It is much more reasonable to take this interpretation as evidence of the humiliation imposed by the father on his son. Rather than indicate that the two were in fact the same person, the auto lends itself to this interpretation: that the action forced on the son humiliated the father as well (we saw this once already when William turned awayfrom the first sweat-accumulation design). And this second level of humiliation, felt by the father and rooted in an action he imposed on his son, suggests the very problem with the auto-fellatic theory: the father turned away from the design rather than go through the self-inflicted humiliation that accompanied forcing his son to experiment with the machine. Kraus’ explanation fails to account for the fact that the auto-fellatic theory is wrong, which he admits. If the two men were one, then this abhorrent theory would gain traction as a viable historical explanation, and as such, it would fully undermine Kraus’ Masochistic Hypothesis and undo the claims that support it.
12. See: Voekel, Raymond. Coaching Crew in America: 1930-1970. Schocken Books, 1985. See: Smith, Ryan. The Great Divide: Changes in Coaching Policy during the Twentieth Century. KE Sportspecific, 1999.
13. I am delighted to be the first to bring this to light. In the aftermath of the event to come, we now know that the school took precautions — screening school publications and denying any affiliation with the event — to ensure that the scandal did not reach the public. But amid its fervent preparations, it overlooked an article published anonymously in the school’s satirical paper, which, because of the venue, never received the attention it merited. In constructing his theory, Kraus approached the school and offered to destroy this article, which the school was naturally happy to allow. This was all included in a personal letter that Kraus wrote to the school after it refused to publish one of his articles. But because the members of the German Department specialized in a very particular Teutonic dialect from the Middle Ages, Humbrücke, they refused to read the letter, which was subsequently ignored. However, a scrupulous man, even if not a gifted thinker, Kraus made a copy of the letter for himself before sending it. Being interested in the subject, I was the first scholar to approach Kraus’ belongings and to find the letter. For the sake of propriety, I have left the school anonymous, and because I was never able to read the article, only the affirmation that it existed, I will leave the evidence in these final pages more ambiguous than in the rest of the paper.