There is a growing tendency in American schools and colleges to lessen the importance of intercollegiate athletics and, in turn, devote more care and attention to the physical welfare of the average student. The number of men in college who take daily exercise, especially in winter, sufficient to keep themselves in good physical condition is but a small percentage of the whole student body. Yet the average college man is not averse to regular exercise. Only it is easier to slight this than social or college duties. Many colleges recognize the fact that the students need exercise, yet will not take the time to secure it. These colleges realize that a man can do his most efficient work only when both mind and body are well cared for. So gymnasium work is made compulsory. The compulsory nature of this exercise usually applies only to freshmen. It is during his freshman year that a man's habits of college life are largely formed, and if daily exercise is then compulsory, the student will probably continue the practice during his stay at college. At any rate, he will have the advantage of one year's systematic physical training and will have learned to appreciate the benefits of such training.
Here at Harvard nothing of the kind has been attempted. Mr. Garcelon's class in general athletics for Freshmen is a step in the right direction, but since it is not compulsory its benefits are confined to some thirty or forty men, who undoubtedly would have taken regular exercise without this class.
Harvard has always been a supporter of progressive movements, and yet this movement looking towards the physical well-being of college students has seemingly been accorded little consideration.