THE HEALTHY BODY CONCEPT
As a public school director of physical education, I read The Report That Shocked the President and Jimmy Jemail's HOTBOX (SI, Aug. 15) with interest. I know that overemphasis of the recreational aspects of physical education has gone too far. We have become too deeply engrossed in "learning to play and getting along with one another," to the detriment of the body building phase of physical education.
In order to attack this problem from the school's point of view, this must be brought home effectively to all school administrators. They must make the decision as to the relative importance of physical fitness and recreation in our school children and must then make provisions in the time blocks of all school programs for effective dealing with this problem.
Today we do encounter too many non-athletic, flabby and disinterested children whose physical activity includes waving to the school-bus driver to stop, eating a sandwich supper while engrossed in Howdy Doody and bringing notes to teachers to be excused from physical education for innumerable absurd reasons. Too little time in our modern way of living is devoted to physical activity. In schools too little emphasis is placed on the remedial, corrective type of program in physical education. I believe now is the time to place the healthy body concept in its proper place. Football, baseball and in general all competitive sports are serving a useful purpose but there are still many children not involved in these programs who are in need of an activity that helps build good body strength.
Director, Physical Education Dept.
Manhasset Public Schools
THE QUESTION REMAINS UNANSWERED
I, too, am concerned with the problem of physical fitness and would like to present some of my reactions to this report, reactions based on several years of study of the physical fitness question.
September 4, 1955
The Kraus-Prudden report brings to light a serious problem if all of its conclusions are correct. There is, as you indicated in the article, some disagreement on the validity of the report. Two important points that might be weaknesses in the study are the sampling procedures (on what basis were the comparative communities chosen?) and the type of test used to assess physical fitness. The literature and experts in the field of physical fitness generally do not agree with Dr. Kraus that his tests correctly measure minimum physical fitness. There is also much disagreement on the relationship of fitness to disease. The problem of fitness is one that requires much additional research (such as that conducted in laboratories at the universities of Illinois, California and Iowa, at Springfield College and at New York University) before conclusions as condemning as Dr. Kraus's are drawn. I am inclined to agree with Representative Karsten on his suggestion concerning a large-scale study by an official agency.
Another thing that interested me was the way in which some respondents to Jemail's HOTBOX question related the President's luncheon on delinquency to physical fitness. Anyone familiar with the literature in the field of delinquency should be aware of the fact that the two are little related. One study even found that the delinquents were of greater physical fitness than non-delinquents. In reading the answers to Jemail's HOTBOX SPECIAL one gets the impression that the participation in sports is a cure-all for delinquency. I think it important that SI point out that there is no panacea for delinquency. It is a societal problem with many ramifications and should be treated as such. I am sure that the President is well aware of this fact and that he was mobilizing the sports world as only one phase of the attack on delinquency.
The concluding paragraph of the article repeats one of the most widely-quoted fallacies regarding fitness. The 50% rejection figure during the draft in World War II was mentioned as indicative of the poor physical fitness of our young men. These rejections involved physical abnormalities and various pathological conditions of a medical nature as well as certain hereditary deficiencies. Fitness for combat and military situations was low for the new draftee but this condition could be and was remedied by intensive physical training.
Whenever one thinks of physical fitness for combat or wartime service, he should be aware of the fact that this is often different from the physical fitness required during peacetime. The question of the level of fitness of our children I think is still to be answered. Dr. Kraus and Miss Prudden deserve considerable credit for their initiative in publicizing the problem. In this maze of publicity, the efforts and the findings of many research workers over a period of years should not be overlooked, however. The question of fitness levels of American youth still remains largely unanswered. Certainly more research to answer these questions is indicated.
ROSCOE C. BROWN JR.
Assistant Professor of Education
New York University
•In testing thousands of school children Dr. Kraus examined whole schools rather than representative samples. He says that these American and European schools were part of "communities of as nearly equal size and socioeconomic background as possible," but refuses to reveal the names and locations of the schools tested. Although researchers, as SI said, are not in agreement whether the Kraus-Weber Tests are a true index of minimum physical fitness, recent studies in the Physical Education Department at Springfield College show a significant correlation between high-low extremes of the Rogers Physical Fitness Index and positive-negative results on the Kraus-Weber Tests. As Dr. Brown states, the question of fitness levels for our youth still remains unanswered, but all authorities in the field are agreed that the present level is too low for youth's well-being and for the welfare of the U.S. SI did not say that a physical fitness program would be a cure-all for today's delinquency problem. It merely reported the coincidental fact that the increase in playgrounds in New Orleans was followed by a decrease in juvenile delinquency. Otherwise SI did not mention juvenile delinquency, though some newspaper accounts of the President's luncheon attributed a double purpose to the meeting: to achieve a higher level of physical fitness, and to combat juvenile delinquency. Several contributors to Jimmy Jemail's HOTBOX, discussed sports as one useful means of fighting delinquency.—ED.
CHILDREN IN NO MAN'S LAND
Having formerly worked with boys' clubs and youth groups, and having spent a number of years as a local pastor trying to develop programs with young people and children outside as well as inside my church, I discovered that there is in nearly every area a sort of "no man's land."
I mean by this that there are scores of children and youths who, for one reason or another, are not included in the usual character-building organizations such as boys' clubs, Scouts and church groups, and these "left out" children are the very ones who develop into delinquents.
Only if we look at the total situation, the total community or nation, analyze the strong and weak points and devise a plan which will cover all departments and ages of children, will we solve this baffling problem.
We sometimes seem to think that just by increasing the work of the Boy Scouts or some other single agency we will solve the total problem. We certainly will not.
We must devise, perhaps through Government action, an over-all, comprehensive plan or strategy which will take into account those boys and girls who are left out of all of these organizations and plan for them a new program which will meet their specific needs and help them to grow up into normal, well-adjusted adults.
EARLE B. PLEASANT
Religion in American Life, Inc.
THE ANSWER IS MOTIVATION
Mr. Jemail gives the best answer to the question, "How can we remedy the lack of participation in sports by American youth?" and in doing so touches on a solution to the problem. He states: "Boys must have an incentive. Mere sports participation is not enough. I grew up fighting for a few privileges...." In this statement lies the answer—motivation.
We need to include more vigorous activities in our physical education programs at all educational levels. All youngsters like to play and they enjoy participating in vigorous activity where there is a challenge. However, many of our leading physical education experts frown on any activity that does not have what they call 'carryover value' for participation in later years. Therefore, contact sports as such are ruled out until senior high school level and by that time the urge to compete in a vigorous activity has lost its appeal.
My contention is that if activities such as soccer, hockey, lacrosse, boxing, wrestling, rugby and football were included in the physical education programs (under modified rules at the lower school levels) when there is intense interest there would also be an incentive to do related activities such as calisthenics which bring an excellent physical development. Remove the incentive—i.e., contact sports—and physical development lags because there is little interest in body building as such.
Secretary, National Intercollegiate Boxing
IS WRESTLING THE ANSWER?
Having worked with YMCAs, colleges and schools in developing amateur wrestling programs for our young, I can say that in my opinion no one activity can so effectively create a physically perfect generation as can amateur wrestling. Not only can the sport be started at almost any tender age, but the resultant beautiful, useful physique with its combined strong body and mind has carry-over potential in practically every other physical activity.
However, to be most effective, the wrestling must shift to the schools as part of their physical education and athletic programs.
Olympic Wrestling Committee
Many of us here have understood the value of our tennis program in building better boys and girls.
Our Tennis Club in Middletown is really a community project. Part of our 200 junior members come to the club through clinics which we conduct in the public parks.
As with Scouting, Little Leagues or any junior endeavor, it takes the effort of a lot of people to carry out a program.
FRED R. DORNER
Middletown Tennis Club
HUNT AND FISH TO BETTER HEALTH
We find little fault with Author Boyle's comprehensive article but do disagree with one of the suggested conclusions...that physical education be made obligatory for every youngster.
Our Manitoba organizations have always encouraged the natural desire of our youth to hunt and fish. We suggest that a day's outing in our healthful outdoors provides not only the tangible results of improved physical condition, muscular development, etc., but also, and this is the big dividend, character building and the acquirement of the principles of good sportsmanship. A vigorous youth program sponsored by sportsmen's organizations would soon alter the figures shown by the Kraus-Weber Tests.
Manitoba Federation of Game & Fish Associations
LETTER TO A MOTHER
I think Mrs. Vaulman's letter addressed to me in the Aug. 29 19TH HOLE deserves an answer.
I have worked not with monkeys, but with thousands of children over many years and have followed not one, but two American children, not through one day, but for 12 and 16 years. They, too, are extremely active.
The fact that Mrs. Vaulman and I are blessed with active children does not give us the right to be complacent about the inactive majority.
I do not believe in "complete freedom" from parental supervision, but neither do I believe in the other extreme of pampering and overprotection. My own children are mountain climbers, skiers and riders, and these activities, along with other sports, give them excellent opportunities for full development of their own personalities and bodies but certainly also involve the risk of accidents. I would consider myself extremely selfish if I denied them the opportunity to enjoy life fully in order to save myself the anxiety I always experience when I see them indulging in these activities.
So that our country may produce a Chopin, a Rembrandt and a Babe Ruth and give shelter to an Einstein we will need a strong and courageous people to protect it.
The Institute for Physical Fitness
White Plains, N.Y.
THEY MUST HAVE AN OUTLET
When I was a boy on the farm and we were still pretty much a rural people, there were always chores to keep us busy. These are no longer available to our younger people. The really important group and the one which is overlooked is the teen-age one.
I have had the privilege, for more than 50 years, to coach athletic teams in three sports in connection with my work and feel that the real solution to most of our problems lies in the proper physical outlet and control of our teen-age boys and girls. I am firmly convinced that, given the proper environment and opportunity, they will respond.
FRANK L. BOYDEN
HEALTH THROUGH ENJOYMENT
It seems to me that the sports that boys and girls can continue to enjoy as adults are the ones that will make the most difference in the physical well-being of the nation as a whole. And besides sports, there are many activities, ranging from walking to housework to weeding, that contribute toward physical well-being if entered into actively enough. I will wager that skiers, as a group, will come out high in Dr. Kraus's strength test, and so will any other group of active sports enthusiasts.
JOHN S. HOLDEN
Colorado Rocky Mountain School, Inc.
BROOKLYN'S BETTER WORLD
How I laughed at Brooklyn's unique golf course (SI, Aug. 22) and even unique-r golfers. You can trust that borough to take a centuries-old sport and come up with something that would have thrown the game's founding fathers into a deep coma. It bears as much resemblance to the game as played on St. Andrews' noble links as the Dodgers' Sym-Phony Band does to Toscanini's group, but the world is better off with both than with only the staid and proper part.
I live directly across the street from this so-called looney hatch and I consider the article on the Dyker course completely untrue and a figment of Miss Perry's overactive imagination.
I have caddied on this course (while in prep school) and have played on it and as a result should and do know the people who patronize it. Contrary to popular belief Brooklynites speak just as any person does that lives in or around New York City. In my opinion the speech Miss Perry included in her article ("Hey Hoibert," "Get the pernt," etc.) was used by her (as it is by many writers) for color—for a laugh. I know of no resident of Brooklyn who speaks in this manner.
In all, your article showed the residents of Brooklyn as a bunch of thugs—stealing, cursing, dirty—with no manners and completely undesirable.
If the editors of SI felt they were doing Dyker Beach Golf Course a favor, I am afraid they were completely mistaken. It was in very bad taste and completely untrue.
ROBERT P. YOUNES
Brooklyn, New York
BROOKLYN HAS THEM
Brooklyn's Mad Golf Course was an exceptionally good piece of literature! It was not only very funny, but most interesting in describing the different personalities (and Brooklyn has them) that you find on this course.
SPEAKING OF TASMANIA...
Jane Perry's Golfer Dykeriens, who tried the train-boat-plane-schedule gambit to get to play ahead of turn, certainly picked a place as far as you can get from Brooklyn when he picked Tasmania as the place to which he was "sailing in two hours." But he was far off the beam when he added, "There ain't a golf course in the whole damn country."
Australia's Island State (pop. 310,000) has at least 25 golf courses (some nine holes) which results in a bit more room to play than at Dyker, and, with a climate like the more temperate parts of Ireland, golf is a year-round game. The best courses are rather like the best in Britain.
The State has also some of the world's best trout fishing. It's only 11,337 miles from Brooklyn—and if you are in a hurry it's five days by air.
S. S. BROWN
Pike fishermen will undoubtedly multiply after people have read your fine picture story on the Manitoba northern pike (SI, Aug. 15). I'm all in favor of the people who like to catch pike...it just means one less to gorge on the small pickerel (wall-eye) and bass. I just groan at the guest who wants to have his prize pike baked. My sympathies went to the cook recently when she had to stuff and bake two 16-pound specimens of this slimy fish. Their aroma just gets pike-ier as time goes on and they take over the oven so that a nice clean lake trout can't even get in it without emerging smelling not like itself but like a pike.
Congratulations to the fisherman who disposes of the northern pike with what is called a pike-ectomy...after all, the bass is a fighting fish but the pike never picks on anything his own size...he just gobbles up the youngsters.
I'm glad I got SI for my husband on his birthday last August; I never knew I'd enjoy it so much! We get extra copies for our guests, and now the current question is when are we going to have the wendigo in Lake Temagami...it will be very soon, we hope.
Concerning Frank Walsh's comment on his cowhide tie, "I have an udder one at home." (19TH HOLE, Aug. 22):
How dairy? I hate to beef, but how cud you print such low humor? It's enough to make a cowhide her head in shame. Rather than cowtow to such a person, you should ignore him, Elsie Borden you with moo of the same. Re SI in general: Bully!
W. R. ANDERSON
THE RETURN OF PINCUSHION PETE
The ink has hardly dried from your excellent piece on archery (SI, Aug. 8) and in comes the first letter on the old, old "pincushion pete" kind of tale (19TH HOLE, Aug. 22). I doubt that there is one shred of evidence that the deer trails in the hills of California are running red with the blood of wounded deer. Since 1935 when Michigan first opened its special deer archery season the tales about "pincushion pete," the mythical deer that is running around with better than a dozen 28-inch arrows stuck in his hide, are an annual occurrence in the state. And the teller of the tale swears on a stack of Bibles that he has seen it with his own eyes.
Michigan has just finished a study on the number of deer wounded by the bow hunter and the results will startle the gun hunters...the number of deer wounded in the bow season is way, way below that of the gun hunter seasons...and no trace of "pincushion pete."
Two of the reasons that people spread these tales are: they are simply "appalled" by anyone sticking an arrow into a deer...but they never write a word of protest about a high-powered rifle that can blow a hole through a deer that you can put your fist into. The second reason is that old reason of jealousy; in this state the archers get first crack at the deer. You should hear the moans and groans of the gunners after they get back home without a deer. Naturally, it's the archers that chased them into the woods or the swamps or the hills with their "noisy" weapons.
In my 10 years of hunting with the bow and, I might add, with a gun also, I have never seen a wounded deer in the woods during the bow season, but during the gun season and after I have seen many wounded and dead deer that were left. An arrow shot at game out of range will either bounce harmlessly into the ground or off the slick hide of the animal. If it hits the deer's leg the wound will be superficial...impossible to break its leg. But take a gun that is not aimed right and hit the deer's leg and you have another cripple that will suffer weeks of torture before it finally starves to death. The broken leg is by far the greatest cause of deer loss during the gun season.
I might add that here, in this state, members of our conservation department are avid archers....
HENRY F. ZEMAN
Grand Rapids, Mich.