Custom house officials are not the only men faced with difficult problems. The authorities of Somerville are at present considering a petition of Tufts College asking for the use of its tennis courts and golf links on Sunday afternoons between two and six o'clock. For in spite of last fall's referendum permitting professional sports on the Sabbath there still exists a relic of the Blue laws which forbids any athletics within 1000 feet of a church building.
In Cambridge this same statute annoys many Harvard students. The Hemenway Gymnasium, the squash courts, both boathouses, and the Soldiers Field athletic facilities are all open Sunday afternoon. But since a corner of Jarvis Field lies within the charmed thousand-foot radius around a church the tennis enthusiast must cross the river to the crowded and inferior courts of Soldiers Field.
The grounds for applying such a statute in these cases seem very obscure, Few churches have afternoon services during the daylight hours; and even near those that do the cries of tennis players can be of little disturbance in an age where the screeches of automobile horns and the grinding of trolley cars are legal anywhere and anytime. Afternoon athletics can hardly be held to dampen the enthusiasm of church-go-ers just because the playground happens to be near a place of worship.
Neither the traditional Sabbath nor the laws of the Puritans have been able to preserve their sanctity in the twentieth century. If inertia prevents the repeal of unwanted laws there are many precedents as well as every reason for suspending their operation where rigorous enforcement causes inconvenience to many and benefit to none.