The victory of the Bethlehem F.C. in the National Challenge Cup competition was not only a great triumph for the members of the team and for the judgment and painstaking effort of its manager, Mr. H.E. Lewis, but it was also the triumph of an IDEA. The IDEA is that one of the finest things in the world for the making of friendships is athletic competition. Athletic sports are likewise a fine thing for all men, whether they work with their brains alone or with brains and hands in conjunction. The best combination, though, is brains and hearts and hands. One of the men to realize this is Mr. Charles M. Schwab, president of the Bethlehem Steel Works.
There are few busier men in the world than Mr. Schwab. His capacity for both work and accomplishment seems unlimited and coupled with an immense capacity for making friends. Where he finds time to do the things he does is a puzzle, but it is outside of this argument. The fact that he does find time and does do things is sufficient to illustrate the point. He realizes the vast importance of a spirit of amity between the head of a great corporation and the army of men it employs. Corporations are usually referred to as "soulless," which may be a bromide or a fact, as the head of the individual corporation elects. Mr. Schwab decided to make it a bromide, and to prove that he had a soul as well as a head, he donated to his employees a fund of $25,000 for the development of athletics among themselves. When he gave the $25,000 he gave it in fact as well as in name. He did not hedge the gift with instructions that each dollar was to be spent thus and so; it was a free gift for the men and the only limitation was that it was to be used for athletic development and the amusement to be derived therefrom. There was also an intimation that if the first gift were well expended there would be another of the same magnitude.
Soccer football is the favorite cold weather game of great numbers of the Bethlehem employees, and it was only right that a fair part of the $25,000 gift should be appropriated for soccer development.
Result: after the first full year of the gift, the Bethlehem Steel Football Club has the undisputed title of National Soccer Champions, won fairly and the finest competition ever waged for a championship in any sport.
That is the result from the standpoint of the men. From the viewpoint of Mr. Schwab, as president, and therefore the representative of his board of directors, from the viewpoint of the Board of Directors as representatives of the thousands of stockholders scattered all over the world, the men of the Bethlehem Steel Works look upon Mr. Schwab as not only the head of the great industrial concern that employs them but as a friend of every man in the plant. And a finer asset than that no man or no corporation could possibly hope to possess.
No good lesson is without a moral, and the one to this is so obvious it hardly needs exploitation. It is simply this: that an interest by corporation heads in the daily life of their employees outside of their purely private affairs, can do more to bring about a feeling of cordiality between "Capital" and "Labor," two essentials of life that have been made into bugaboos for each other by addlepated agitators all over the country, than all the high-brow industrial commission investigations that could be staged in a lifetime. The proof is the simple fact that friends can always reach an understanding where hostile elements would not even look for one.