Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/472

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natural result of the evolution of cricket into its present state and dimensions. Later on modern cricket will be reviewed in its relation to the past. Here it is sufficient to admit that the game has in a sense become more than a game. It is a huge institution, highly organised and demanding the entire time of those actively engaged in it, or at any rate so much of their time that they are good for little else. From being a recreation it has become an occupation. A. man nowadays cannot play first-class cricket and do much else. And many people regard this as not quite as it should be. They cry out against the present state of things, because men are taken away from trades and useful occupations in order to play cricket for some fifteen years of their lives, and the very best years into the bargain. They point out, also, that though a professional cricketer may lead a very pleasant and harmless life as long as he is young and fit to play, the profession he adopts ceases with his youth, so that he is left stranded at an age when most men are just beginning to be successful, and are ensuring the position of themselves and their families.

These objections to the present state of games look very plausible at first sight, from the point of view of political and social economy. And there is no doubt that there is very considerable justification for them with regard to football. A football professional gets higher wages on the average than a cricket professional, but his career is very much shorter. Few men are able to make wages out of the game for more than ten years altogether. These ten years are sufficient to put them out of touch with other occupations, and give them a taste for doing nothing except playing games. It must be remembered that though the actual time spent in football-matches is not great—in fact, it is so small that first-class football and an ordinary trade are by no means mutually exclusive—the training and preparation of a professional football team is so rigorous that practically there is no chance of its members being able to do anything else. Then football professionals are paid a retaining fee during the close season, so they have no need to work even then. There is no doubt that many of them are stranded in most unenviable positions at the end of their brief and meteoric careers. With cricket professionals the case is somewhat different. Their period of active service is much longer. For after a cricketer has played many years for a county, and at last is too old to be of any use in first-class cricket, he can always obtain a berth either as a school coach or as a club bowler, the duties of which he can fulfil adequately until he is practically an old man. And all this