Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 68.djvu/88

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84
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

INTERCOLLEGIATE CONTESTS
By Professor JOHN J. STEVENSON,

NEW YORK UNIVERSITY

THIRTY years ago, student organizations in the ordinary college were few and on a modest scale, laying no serious burden of any sort on the members. All were purely voluntary and members alone shared in either expense or advantage. Gymnastics were recognized officially in few institutions and such athletic clubs as did exist were for amusement. College boys, like other boys, were not all stalwart, some were even 'slab-chested'; but the testimony of alumni catalogues proves that their tenacity to life was such that on the average they were very good insurance risks.

Conditions in many respects have undergone change. A college, whether the students be scores or thousands in number, seems compelled to maintain one or more teams in athletics, with frequently a glee club in addition—not in any sense for amusement or for improvement, but for contests with similar organizations in other colleges. The expense is serious, but the active members are not expected to defray it, as they 'do the work.' Others must pay the bills, either directly or indirectly, under penalty of being regarded as 'chumps' without college spirit. If means be available professional coaches are always employed for athletic teams and glee clubs. The selected few in the organizations enter upon their work as a business and undergo severe training, which requires close attention and much time—and this not during vacation periods, but during the college year, when study is supposed to demand most of the student's energy. The total money expenditure on these associations must be something stupendous; in some institutions, clamoring for funds, the amount annually handled by teams and other organizations is almost enough to endow a professorship.

These semi-professional organizations, playing or singing for 'gate money' have damaged the morals of college students, even the morale of the colleges themselves. Heads of teams keep close watch of secondary schools, not in search of brilliant students, but in search of boys who have made 'records,' and the entrance of such boys brings joy to the student body. New York is only too familiar with the scenes of debauchery which have followed great contests, as gambling has preceded and accompanied them. It has been charged that college authorities wink at flagrant evasions of laws governing amateur contests and permit 'ringers' to appear as their representatives; but this