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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/745

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COLLEGE ATHLETICS.

it brings the whole force of college opinion to bear in favor of a healthy, moral life. To be sure, the desire to defeat a rival club or team is not the highest motive of the human mind; the honor of winning a medal in a race is not the greatest honor which earth can afford. The glory of being champions at any game seems puerile to serious-minded people; but we must take young people as we find them. If we can not induce them to exercise by the "deep moral significance" of "the beauty of symmetry of form," we must lay hold of the motives, not wrong, which do influence them. The majority of them not being open to the highest motives, we take the next best motives which appeal to them. That is the principle on which all education is conducted. Competitions, prizes, medals, honors, appeal to students, move them, and hold them to efforts which higher and worthier objects fail to call forth. By these we educate them to habits which fit them to receive the higher motives. They are their schoolmasters to train them for a better life. So it is in athletic sports. By habits of exercise from earliest youth young men are educated to appreciate the value of it. Accustomed to feel the good effects of it in themselves, or to see the good of it in the person of some upholder of the honor of their club, they learn to admire the cause of this good. The prominent athletes present examples of beauty of form and vigorous health. The sight of them stimulates many a man to try on his own person the effect of the training which he sees embodied in the winners of prizes or championships. More than this, having once learned the value of exercise to health, he forever associates together health and exercise in a necessary companionship. So the athletes preach to all men by example.

We will now consider the various athletic sports, in order that we may weigh the justice of Dr. Sargent's remarks on the evils of making "excellence in achievement" "the primary object." We may eliminate from the sports certain ones not liable to these evils, such as have for their object a victory, not a prize. To the contestants the importance of match-games of foot-ball, base-ball, lacrosse, and polo lies not in excellence of achievement, but in defeating rival organizations. The big score may be desirable, but the principal aim is the championship. Rowing, also, may be said to be free from these evils, because, though "good form" and the best stroke may be aimed at, the principal purpose is to put the boat over the course fast enough to come in first at the finish. Excellence in achievement consists in winning the race. Fast time may be acceptable, but, if the winning boat makes the fastest time for its particular race, the winning crew is satisfied.

If, therefore, we remove base-ball, foot-ball, and rowing from the list of athletic exercises which are liable to the evils following from "making excellence in achievement" "the primary object" of them, Dr. Sargent's seven specifications can not apply to them. Some of