Dr. Sargent on Gymnasium Question
Great praise is due the managers of the Harvard Illustrated Magazine for the energy and zeal they have displayed in calling the attention of the University to the need of a larger gymnasium. Perhaps no one factor has contributed more to arouse the interest in physical training than the building of the Hemenway Gymnasium in 1878. Seventy-five per cent. of the school and college gymnasium directors in the United States have received at least a part of their training in this institution while attending Harvard's summer courses in physical education, and the stream of influence that has been carried by two thousand pupils from this Gymnasium has brought about many of the improvements in methods, construction, and equipment, etc., which now seem so necessary to the students of Harvard. Although attendance at the Gymnasium has increased four-fold, two Law School, two Medical School, and two Scientific School buildings have been erected at Harvard since the Hemenway Gymnasium was built.
In order that a gymnasium should be of the greatest service to a University, it should be so situated, constructed, and equipped as to fill the same place in the physical life of the student that the library, laboratory, class room, and museum fill in his mental life. The trend of physical education is along three lines: first, toward perfecting the body as a machine; second, toward obtaining individual distinction in different varieties of athletics and gymnastics; and third, toward the cultivation of group games and team-play, where, the individual learns not only to work in harmony with others, but often to sacrifice his own chance of winning distinction when it is for the advantage of the team. In the opinion of many well-qualified judges, athletic team contests properly conducted furnish the best opportunity a school or college affords for the teaching of applied hygiene, applied ethics, and the development of character.
It is gratifying to see that the architects in their preliminary plans for a new gymnasium for Harvard have made provision for these several lines of physical activities, and what is still more important, they have so arranged the separate rooms that practice in different sports and exercises may go on, at the same time. The final details may, of course, be worked out later.
Here is Harvard's opportunity, not only to retrieve some of the mistakes of the past, but to go forward with high hopes and joyous expectations of attaining a more glorious future in physical education as well as in competitive athletics