This week at Trinity, 100 years ago

   Posted by: rring   in Uncategorized

November 18, 1910

[An interesting article by an alum about collegiate sports and their unfortunate focus on star athletes, rather than general physical conditioning for students]

“Alumni Communication”  [Sydney G. Fisher, of Philadelphia, Class of 1879]

To the Editor of the Tripod.  Dear Sir:  I have lately noticed some remarks in the Tripod implying that there was to be an effort to broaden its scope beyond more advertisements and screeching for the football games.  This effort has certainly been fulfilled in the publication of Colonel Cogswell’s admirable and historically valuable Founder’s Day address, and I sincerely hope the effort will be continued. 

When I was at the college a few weeks ago, there were complaints of the small number of alumni that subscribed for the Tripod.  The reason is obvious.  It contains nothing that interests them.  The old Tablet [the Trinity Tabletwas published 1868-1908] always c0ntained a great deal of information about the college, and about the doings of alumni in various parts of the world, and was to my mind a very inspiring and useful college journal.  So far as the alumni are concerned, all of the footbal screeching that interests them could be put in one column, or even in half a column.  We are all very glad that Wesleyan was “done up” the other day, but there are other things of equal importance in the world and in the college world.

Athletics are valuable and necessary, but that particular form of them which consists of eleven men, or nine men, getting all the exercise and the rest of the undergraduate body neglecting exercise and sitting in the grand stand to “root” for the nine or eleven, is not by any means the most commendable phase of the situation.  We may not be able to get rid of it.  It will flourish without encouragement; and it certainly should not be encouraged by those of us who have had experience of life and know the sort of physique required in the commercial and professional worlds.

If I had my way the “rooters” and the “digs” would be all hustled off the benches and compelled to play games and exercise as much as the nine or eleven.  A system of college athletics which makes nine-tenths of the undergraduates ashamed to play games or do anything much but “root,” because they are unable to break records and win distinction, is radically defective[my emphasis].  The craze about records and destruction is, as Colonel Roosevelt once said, the ruination of the general usefulness of sport and athletics in this country. 

The natural athelete, the record man, will take care of himself.  Do not encourage him; for then he overdevelops and carries about for the rest of his days in sedentary life, a muscular system through which the heart finds great difficulty in pumping the blood.  The man to be looked after and encouraged in college athletics is the “dig,” the over-studious, the ordinary chap who after all does the work of the world, or the fellow who shrinks from games and cultivates what he is pleased to describe as his intellect. 

I believe gymnasium exercise is now compulsory for the freshmen.  That is a great gain.  I would go farther and make exercise, either gymnasium or out-of-doors, compulsory for all the classes, including the lordly seniors.  In my time the seniors were regarded as beings who had passed through the drudgery of education and lived a sort of strolling, easy existence among historical and literary studies and the society of young ladies.  They would not have much time for that under my system:  for being older and presumably stronger, the compulsory athletics would be given to them in such doses that every thing that would happen to them in after life would seem easy.

BEST ADVERTISEMENT:  The College Tailoring Co.: “Suits pressed, 40 cents each.  Called for and delivered, 50 cents each.  We clean and press four suits a month for $1.50.”


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