President Barnard of Columbia College has seen fit in his last annual report to state his views on a subject which is now exciting much interest throughout the college world, namely, college athletics. President Barnard recognizes the fact that much can be said on each side of the question, but his conclusion is based on arguments not altogether satisfactory. The substance of that part of the report dealing with the athletic question is as follows:
"In recent years increasing attention has been continually directed to the importance of physical culture among young men in college. There is reason to believe that if the importance of this subject has not been exaggerated, at least the methods employed for encouraging it have been more or less mistaken. It is too often the case that at the beginning of a session young men are animated for a week or two by a very lively zeal to participate in athletic sports which in a brief period wears itself out; after which the gymnasium is for the most part deserted. What is more likely to happen is the selection of a limited number of athletes, who are supposed to possess more than usual skill, and who are charged with representing the college in their match games with other institutions. Those not thus selected will relapse into the sluggishness of previous years, and thus the mass of the students will derive very little benefit from the efforts thus made for their physical improvement.
Another evil attends the practice, now become so common, of intercollegiate matches. As these contests approach, there is more or less distraction of the minds of the students from their proper pursuits, and for the time being a more or less serious neglect of study. This is an evil inevitable while the present system is maintained, and is of sufficient magnitude to justify, in the opinion of the undersigned, an absolute prohibition of intercollegiate games altogether."