Statistics Comparing Death Rate of Crew Men With Death Rate of Class Finds Oarsmen's Mortality 3 Per Cent Higher
The percentage of Harvard crew men now dead is 3 per cent higher than the percentage of all college men deceased, it was revealed yesterday in a compilation of vital statistics of crews and classes since 1876, the year of the first four-mile Harvard-Yale race.
Between the years of 1908 and 1913, there has been proportionately twice as great a mortality among crew men as among the entire class. Between 1885 and 1909, the death-rate percentage for oarsmen and non-oarsmen is much the same, while in the earlier years, the crew mortality is again higher. Figures show that a greater percentage of crew men die between the ages of 40 to 46 than do the others. The death-rate however, is even between the years of 47 to 65, and again the crew mortality percentage is higher between the ages of 65 to 77.
Dr. Morris Fishbein of Chicago in a Saturday Evening Post article writes: "Competitive rowing is one of the most severe sports; few trainers will undertake to accept men for training on a crew until they have been carefully examined by physicians as to the state of their hearts. The longer a man has been an oarsman, the greater was the enlargement found in his vital tissue. Strangely enough, football players and boxers show relatively little enlargement in the heart, and cyclists practically none."
Dr. Louis I. Dublin, a New York statistician claims that in a study of 4976 athletes who graduated from eastern colleges in prior to 1905, 1202 were found to have died before 1929. On the basis of the death rate of that period, Dr. Dublin finds that this number is less than the average for non-athletes.
The Harvard figures do not show a tremendously higher death-rate among oarsmen. In fact, both the entire crews of '03 and '07 are alive. In 16 of 38 cases, the death-rate is higher among the class than on the crew.