The work which is being done in the gymnasium by the classes and by individuals who exercise alone is very significant and very gratifying. There has been an undoubted tendency in the last few years to neglect gymnasium work for athletic games, and so far has that tendency gone that there is danger of entirely losing sight of the idea of exercise for the sake of sound bodies; the idea of athletics for the sake of beating Yale has become the all-important thing. The training for athletic teams is now carried to such a point that it becomes a long physical strain which is quite beyond the endurance of the average student, and the severity of this training distorts the whole view of physical exercise. Then again our athletic contests are carried on with so much noise, with so much cheering and shouting, that quiet, unassuming exercise in the gymsaium, which gets no applause, no reward of victory over an opponent, suffers very much by contrast. Special lines of athletics have largely taken the place of general exercise to the extent that the ordinary student rather laughs at light gymnastics. Yet this view of the matter is illogical and absurd. In an educational institution the body should be trained as much as the brain and much in the same way, not by spasmodic and violent exercise, but by slow, careful, intelligent drill. Obviously football, baseball and rowing are not the most important factors in the physical development of all the students for they cannot be practiced very generally. Gmynastics can be done by nearly everybody and they furnish the great road to sound bodies, which are as important as sound minds. Considered as part of education, which is what we are all supposed to be here to obtain, gymnasium work for the individual is vastly more important than beating Yale in any single branch of athletics. In preparing ourselves for the future our aim should be not to acquire the abnormal strength which often results from athletic games, but rather the graceful, vigorous bodies which gymnasium work developes. We are not speaking against athletic contests; they are important and they have their place, but they should not be allowed to drive out gymnastics. The more the gymnasium is used this winter, the more the students will show that they are taking a logical and sensible view of the advantages offered them here at Harvard.
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