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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/202

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

essentially from the public, which is, to speak plainly, little interested in learning, and knows little of those devoted to it. If the future historian, or the traveler from Altruria, wishing to inform himself of the relation of the public to the colleges, should consult the documents, that is the newspapers, could he help concluding that the main business of the institutions of learning, and the one supported by the public, was the cultivation of athletic sports and contests? Are not our largest colleges chiefly known to the newspaper-reading public through the records of their athletic teams? When we hear the "spirit" of certain institutions spoken of, does it mean anything else than a concentration of all the forces of youth on the task of overcoming athletic rivals? It is, to be sure, an inspiring sight to see these forces concentrated on anything of importance with the determination to overcome difficulties, but does not the importance of the athletic success seem magnified out of all proportion, and is it compatible with that sane view of life which should, above all, be the possession of the educated man? Let us consider the amount of interest in athletics on the basis of the sums expended for it in comparison with other departments of activity. In a recent daily paper I find the budget for athletics at the University of Pennsylvania for the past year to amount to $88,863.85. During the same time fifteen colleges and universities in the State of New York, including Columbia and Cornell, spent on books for their libraries $67,587. This is less by $20,000 than the sum spent for the same purpose by the Brooklyn Public Library. We also find that at a single football game there is taken in in gate-receipts the sum of eighty thousand dollars, a sum, I may say, more than sufficient to run this university and college together for a whole year. What a commentary are these figures on American civilization! I do not grudge the expenditure of money on gymnasiums or whatever is necessary to the development of muscle and the maintenance of health, which is the prime necessity for success in any walk of life, but when I find in the above budget the sum of $29,688 for football, I feel a certain sense of scandal. I am aware that certain cities in the days of the decadence of Rome maintained bands of gladiators for the diversion of the public, but I can not feel that we shall do well by imitating them. I have never been able to reconcile myself to the spending by my own alma mater of over one hundred thousand dollars for a stadium, while she alone of all the great universities lacks a worthy library building, and can not find the funds to build it.

It will be said in explanation of the public interest in athletics that this is the field of activity most visible, even if the activity is not the greatest. Let us consider what are the fields of activity of a college or university. Founded at first with the avowed object of educating young men for the Christian ministry, our colleges naturally developed