"VERDANT GREEN," "Tom Brown," and "Five Years at an English University," afford any amount of information about the chapels, dining-halls, "quads," and student life in general at Oxford. But I do not remember that any one of them gives the best time made in the quarter-of-a-mile race or the one-hundred yard dash; and this is the point I wish to come to, namely, Athletics. The question is frequently asked, "Why do the English university men excel the American students in everything relating to Athletics?" And quite as often the answer is given, "Because they are a hardier race and live in a better climate." This reply is true to a certain extent; they are a hardier race beyond a doubt; but, on the other hand, no Englishman would think of sitting down in a room full of smoke and lounging away the whole afternoon, simply because a little drizzling rain happens to be falling. Their climate is not subject to extremes as is ours, but it is proverbially noted for its wet days, and, as a matter of fact, the disagreeable weather of last week may be taken as a fair example of English weather. The success of the Oxford or Cambridge man is not owing so much to his constitution and climate, as to his pertinacity in carrying out whatever he undertakes. Men in England will train honestly for a month at least before the day of the sports for which they enter. They will give up smoking, drinking, and late hours, and will do every day what they know they must do in order to secure a place. Who is there at Harvard that ever trained a month for our Athletic Field Sports? It has been often said that there is no necessity of training much, because no one does it; but this is now an excuse of the past. For it was decided, at the last meeting of the Athletic Association, that prizes are not to be given unless a fixed standard be attained. And in the interest of Harvard Athletics this is a most fortunate decision. Our best record is not flattering when compared with other American colleges. But put it side by side with that of Oxford or Cambridge, and it becomes an object for commiseration.
Compare, for example, our time with theirs, since 1874, in the following things: -
One-hundred-yard race, 10 1/5 s. 10 3/4 s.
Quarter-mile run, 51 4/5 s. 57 s.
Three-mile run, 15 m. 12 2/5 s. 16m.56 s.
Long jump, 22 ft. 10 1/2 in. 18ft. 4 in.
High jump, 6 ft. 2 1/2 in. 5ft. 2in.
I trust that this immense difference between the two scores may not have the effect of discouraging men from trying their best; for, after all, it is only by trying hard that anything is to be accomplished. And now that the principles of training are so radically changed from what they were five years ago, requiring less dieting, etc., it is to be hoped that when the spring comes, men will be willing to make a temporary sacrifice of a few bodily comforts in order to put our Athletic Association on a footing equal to that of any college in the country. If men are to be induced to forego the pleasures of their Sybarite existence rather by the value of the prize than by the honor of winning the contest (and we fear they too often are), the association undoubtedly would do all in their power to afford the necessary incentive, in the hope of bettering a record which it is too true is only very mediocre.
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