THE FOUR-MILE RACE
Football has long borne the brunt of the attack directed against athletics which are stressed out of proportion to their importance in college life. Crew, however, has escaped the criticism which it deserves. With House rowing well established and likely to continue growing rapidly, it is natural that the subject of varsity crew should be reconsidered.
Under present conditions four crews are sent down to Red Top for a period of over two weeks of intensive preparation for the Yale race. Ordinarily this includes nearly the entire final examination period as well as a week of vacation time. This year, thanks to the provision of a regular study hall it will be possible to make a serious attempt to study, but with rowing twice a day, strict training rules, and the inevitable atmosphere of sociability and intellectual relaxation it is practically impossible to realize this ideal. Although a survey has shown that the marks of those at Red Top do not generally go down at finals, they are, nevertheless, prevented from doing their best work. The atmosphere is such that no real benefit is derived from what work is done.
The justification for the maintenance of Red Top is the necessity of adequate preparation for the strain of the four-mile race. If the varsity race were reduced from four miles, possibly to two miles, the time and energy spent in preparation would be reduced considerably. Analysis has shown that under proper conditions varsity rowing is not injurious to health, but there is, nevertheless, a constant threat of over-strain. In the past, a number of varsity crew men have expressed their preference for a two-mile race, an equally good criterion of rowing ability and far less exhausting. As it is, three out of the four crews at Red Top do not race the four-mile course.
The maintenance of the long training period at New London is expensive. Some men of varsity calibre have been unable to row their full number of years because they could not spare the time from their work. Those who do go down are prevented from really studying during the examination period. Unquestionably the time spent at Red Top is as enjoyable as any in the college career, but this does not alter the fact that the Red Top training exaggerates the importance of crew as a sport and is out of place in a college. The force of tradition will make any change difficult; it should not, however, prevent a reduction in the length of the 1933 varsity race, making the sport more enjoyable and enabling the crews to remain in Cambridge until the close of the college year.