Now, when the glamour has fallen off athleticism, let's show the school what wretched things they have been serving so long. If we can in any way put a check on this nonsense now, if in Fernhurst only, we shall be doing something. After the war we shall have a fine Fifteen winning matches, and the school will feel its feet.
The difficulty is therefore that the actual raising of the standard of athletics has probably been bad for national athleticism.
Mr Bostock, though touching on fifty, retained a youthful athleticism; he looked and talked younger than his years, and he loved the society of young people. If he wandered solitary and moody about the tennis-court now, it was because he had a great deal on his mind besides business. He had his daughter's future on his mind.
Athleticism is now the form into which these wilder instincts can be best transmuted, and where they find harmless and even wholesome vent. Another change early in adolescence is the increased number of social, literary, and even philanthropic organizations and institutions for mutual help perhaps against vice, for having a good time, or for holding picnics and parties.
The likeness here is only a very partial one, to be sure. The American was like the Scotchman in his athleticism, high spirits, breezy optimism, love of the open air, intense enjoyment of life. But he had not North's roystering conviviality and uproarious Toryism; and the kinds of literature that they cultivated were quite unlike.
Over-study is one of the morbific tendencies of our time. Some one or other has been trying to frown down what he calls the excessive athleticism of our public schools. No, no! Let us rejoice that our lads have such an opportunity of vigorous physical development.
It may quite well be because the insistence on athleticism, which has been elevated into a cult, in our public schools, has supplied a real and absorbing interest for the one, but has merely used the physical capacity of the other without touching his mind or his spirit at all.
Undoubtedly occupation in other than the traditional woman's field is weakening the maternal feeling or is at least competing with it in a way that divides the modern mother's emotions and purposes and is largely responsible for her restless nervousness. This I think may safely be stated: that industry, athleticism, education, late marriage, etc., are not making for better physical motherhood.
Their conceit and their imagination transformed the hall into a kind of improved National Sporting Club. They went about with an air of subdued but tremendous athleticism. They affected a sort of self-conscious nonchalance. They adopted an odiously patronising attitude towards the once popular game of backgammon.
And even in the years when the call of games is strongest, some rivalry of other outdoor pursuits is useful as a preventive of absorption in athleticism, easily carried to excess at school so as to shut out finer interests and influences.