A certain paper, published early last October, spoke editorially as follows: "The note of preparation has sounded busily at Harvard, and it will not be long before the students are deep in their studies. Both mind and body will soon be engaged, the former in the intellectual and the latter in the physical. It is but natural to expect that the more intellectual arts and sciences will be absorbed in unobtrusive silence, and that their achievement will not attract any notable share of public attention, and that base-ball and boat racing will be studied with a fervor which cannot but trumpet the accomplishments of their classic followers to the notice and admiration of an expectant world. Local pride leans more kindly toward the victories of brawn than towards those of mind, and a college year is ever made more memorable by its athletic than by its intellectual victories. In the meanwhile, there are earnest and conscientious students who value college for the mental as well as the muscular training it provides, and that Harvard will have its usual large complement of those who will pursue their studies undisturbed by the triumphs or defeats of the university athletics, goes without saying."
The remarks in the above are exceedingly suggestive. There are at least two elements in Harvard life, one corresponding to the mind, the other to the body, Harvard intellectual and Harvard athletic. But for the time at least Harvard athletic has more "fame" than Harvard intellectual; the athletes seem to be "bigger" men than the scholars, who very generally receive the hardly complimentary title of "grinds." It is truly said, "local pride leans more kindly toward the victories of brawn than towards those of mind;" but it is a mistake to suppose that Harvard men have no pride in intellectual attainments. The outside world seems to think that Harvard men are afflicted at heart with an indifference about all that is serious. But this conception of our character is decidedly wrong. While there is, and we may almost say, always has been, a certain indifference in the Harvard character, yet it should be noted that that indifference is far more apparent than real. Harvard men have opinions and feelings, and are quite capable of being enthusiastic on something besides athletics, if occasion demands. That they should be known abroad as having more interest and enthusiasm in athletics than in anything else is not at all surprising. For their athletic successes are achieved during connection with the college; but those other and higher successes in life, successes of mind and intellect, are not really achieved until years after graduation. With graduation, athletics fade away for the most part from the student's memory; but the intellectual life seems then to have only just begun. Harvard past is famous not for her athletic achievements, but for the deeds of her great thinkers and writers. And Harvard present, when it is past, will be likewise famous.
A certain class wins renown on the field and on the water. It is graduated. And as its athletic glory fades away it wins for itself the glory that is more lasting, for greatness and nobility and genius. Men formerly thought "indifferent," become men of strength and opinion. The hitherto unseen current of thought is now clearly visible. So has been the past. So will be the future. And while it is not crankism to say that the sooner this current of serious thought displays itself, the better for the thinker and for the college, it is more than crankism to say that all the attention that college men now give to athletics and such temporary matters should be turned to thoughts of things higher and nobler, lasting and eternal. A college life that was all serious, that had no diversions for mind and body, would be almost worse than a life in the back districts of ignorance. The young, developing mind needs diversion, and time had yet failed to produce a means of diversion superior to that afforded by athletic contests. Those who would have the student think of anything but athletics seem to care more for his harm than for his good. Many say that in themselves athletics are all very well, but why so much attention and enthusiasm? Without the attention and the enthusiasm, there could hardly be any athletics. The student does right in giving some thought and interest to athletics. The wrong is where he gives no thought and interest to more important matters, - a mistake which very few men even approach to making. The supposition that Harvard and Yale, for example, cannot meet each other in athletic contest and be at the same time institutions of learning, of serious thought and intellectual study, is false. Study and athletics can go together, and are better together than apart. A man can think while walking, as long as he doesn't walk too fast. And if he undertakes to think without even walking, the time will come when he can neither think nor walk. The moral of all this is, be studious but be athletic also. An athletic student is worth something, and a studious athlete does not suggest an anomoly.