One question with respect to athletics that has recently been discussed by college faculties, and which is not yet settled, is whether college organizations should be allowed to play with professional organizations, and also whether they should be allowed to employ professional trainers. There can be but little doubt that no harm need necessarily follow from a contest with a professional team at the proper time and place. Professional teams are under rigid discipline ; and the opportunity for association with the members of a team during a contest, at the worst, is slight. Professional athletes are not ipso facto men of depraved natures. They are neither better nor worse than others with whom college students are brought in contact. A young man whose morals would be corrupted by such a contact would never come to it uncorrupted. Besides, a college student would hardly seek the society of a professional for its own sake. On the other hand, the opportunity afforded for the attainment of superior skill and excellence in a sport by competition with masters of the art is not unlike (if the comparison is pardonable) the opportunity afforded to a divinity student in having Phillips Brooks criticize one of his sermons, or lecture to him for an hour upon the duties of his chosen profession. If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well.
As to the employment of professional trainers, it is hard to see what problem other than the selection of a man of proper character and of suitable capacity is presented. There is an economy in the employment of instruction,-at least, this position is admitted when applied to mental training. Why should it not be, when applied to physical?
Physical training in its broad sense means correct habits. It means temperance. It means morality. College sports today, as represented by the sentiment of undergraduates, mean manliness and fair play. The qualities of judgment, decision, coolness in the midst of excitement, and self-reliance, are developed. The value of discipline is learned by those who become members of teams, and all learn to care for their health. People who live in college towns will testify that with the increase in athletic sports there has been a decrease in the number of student escapades which disturb the peace and injure the property of their victims. Has it ever been charged that the average of scholarship was any lower since these days of athletics came? Is not rather the motto of the college student of today, "Mens Ana in corpora sano?"