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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

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It cannot be doubted however that many absurd notions prevail in this matter. The correspondent of the New York Times from Cambridge very well says: "Of all the errors which have got abroad in regard to our American colleges none is so false or so pernicious as the idea that the majority of the students give too much time to athletics. The truth is just the other way. The athletes in a class of 200 or over can generally be counted on one's fingers. The worst thing about college athletics is that they are shared in by so few that they have very little influence in improving the health of the students. Well directed physical exercise is absolutely essential to a brain-worker, and until our colleges supply this they do only a part of their duty."

The best of physical exercise we firmly believe is to be got from athletic sports. When then the present reform has brought it about that every student shall find his place in some athletic sport, it can be said that the agitation now so frequent will not have been in vain. But not until this result seems in some fair way of being attained should the agitation for this end cease. The same writer we have quoted also says very forcibly: "The great danger which besets our college students is not an undue fondness for open-air sports, but the direct reverse - a withdrawal from ordinary human life and a complete lack of interest in everything that goes on outside of his special sphere. In Cambridge they call this tendency "Harvard indifference;" but its influence is not confined to Harvard. If our educated men are to gain nothing from what is termed a liberal education save a narrow selfishness and lack of patriotism, enthusiasm, individuality, and everything positive and definite, we had better shut up our colleges." This is excellent doctrine and we hope to hear it preached more and more widely.

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