Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 76.djvu/75

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
71
COLLEGE DIVERSIONS
COLLEGE DIVERSIONS
By Professor JOHN J. STEVENSON
NEW YORK UNIVERSITY

THE phase assumed by discussions respecting athletics must bring great comfort to coaches and others who derive profit or glory from intercollegiate contests. They are to be congratulated upon the success attending their efforts to divert attention from the serious matters at issue and in concentrating it upon wholly irrelevant inquiries as to the alleged brutality of football.

It may be said in passing that a game which, in the short season just closed, can boast of 30 killed, 20 others fatally wounded, as well as nearly 1,000 more or less seriously injured, may be regarded as fairly brutal; but this is merely incidental: if parents choose to permit their sons to play football, that is their concern. The main issue is vastly broader and the dust raised about football is merely an attempt to conceal it.

If a visitor from some outside region should read the college papers, which are encouraged because they give young men an "admirable preparation for journalistic work in after life," he would be convinced that American boys in college think of little aside from professional sport. Appeals to college spirit abound, urging the fellows to attend the games and to bring their friends — to prevent a deficit in the treasury; lamentations are prolonged, deploring the lack of college spirit shown by muscular men who fail to apply for places on the teams; there are doleful predictions because students do not pay up for support of the several crews and gloomy forecasts abound because the college is in danger of losing its high standing. If a team has gained a victory, the paper is hardly large enough to hold the story; the work done by the coaches is extolled as entitling them to the everlasting gratitude of the college, for whose advancement they have done so much. It is true that the college professors are not forgotten; there are frequent references to them in connection with the formulation of new rules abridging still further the personal liberty of students.

If the visitor pass into the college buildings he might be led to believe that the professors themselves respect intellectual prowess as little as the students do. The walls are often decorated with trophies won in intercollegiate contests; the names of college champions shine out on the roll adorning the gymnasium, but he finds no roll of honor-men in the class-rooms; silver cups and medals of gold, silver or bronze abound for athletes, but prizes for men who excel in study are few and