This is the scientific age; everything is now governed by rule, everything is bound by precision. And in the strides that the world has made during the past century, it is strange to see how our athletics have evolved from a sort of chaos into sharply defined, well regulated sciences, requiring the action of mind as well as of body to perfect them.
Let us first look at the rowing, Harvard's favorite sport, and see from what a curious chaos it has sprung. Starting with a heavy eight-oared barge, in 1844, in which the club sometimes took ladies rowing, the first race with Yale was won after only four days' practice. To-day we see races planned a year ahead, men practising an hour every day, rowing on artificial machines, running and exercising with weights and dumb-bells. Then, they trusted to their strength and endurance only, to pull their boat ahead of their New Haven rivals. Now, the Harvard stroke, making a boat-load of men act in as perfect union as a machine, has revolutionized the art of rowing, and has placed it in the best of the sciences.
Again, let us look at foot-ball, which in the days of "Tom Brown," was played by fifty or more men, without any more regard for science than any ordinary mob displays; no doubt the game was exciting; no doubt, fine plays were made; but it was still painfully crude and undeveloped. Let us look at it now;-twenty-two men, carefully trained and in the highest possession of all their powers, contest the game with all the confidence and skill that only careful instruction inspires. There they depended on numbers and strent to win the game; here, there is a possibility for fine work, all a man's energies, physical and mental, being brought into play. Instead of a must rushing hither and thither, we see brilliant runs, beautiful passes. long kicks, and clever tricks in dodging and tackling that would never have been learned, save by long practice. And again we are brought face to face with the fact that we have reduced another game to a science.
Base-ball is the third sport which has been evolved from native crudity into its modern phase. In 1857, a man was allowed to throw the ball at the base runner, in order to put him out; and the pitcher was obliged to delivery ball without bending his elbow, the Result being a mere toss of the ball, which was batted unmercifully; then the scores often run as high as 40 runs, whereas now, a game may be played for fifteen innings without either st scoring a ran. An old ball pla would hardly recognize the game today, so much has it changed. August we have created a science.
Not only these sports, but track athletics, tennis, lacrosse and polo, show the influence of the mind in elevation of sports to a higher lev And we may confidently expect to we improvements continue in them unceasingly, until colleges and athleacsno longer exist.