IKE ON ATHLETICS
One of the peripheral effects of President Eisenhower's heartattack last September was the postponement of his national physical fitness conference. Since he returned to his desk, the pressure of more immediate business has kept Ike from rescheduling the conference. Now, according to last week's press conference, physical fitness is very much on his mind.
Ike said: "...just before I was taken ill, you know, I had started in with the instigation of Mr. [John B.] Kelly from Philadelphia and a few others who were supporting the proposition to get—develop—a very great movement of youngsters toward the athletic fields of this country, to get them to take part in athletics, because all sorts of tests have shown that the youngsters taking part in athletics were far less susceptible to the juvenile temptations than were others.
"Moreover, the very strange thing came out that physical fitness was a criterion that you could apply, and with it you find a real parallel between physical fitness and, you might say, mental adjustment.
"So that project, which was delayed, I am now reviving—Vice- President Nixon was the chairman—and we are starting again...."
At the end of the week, the White House predicted that the conference will be held in mid-June.
President Eisenhower is not the only world figure concerned about the state of his countrymen's health. In London, the Duke of Edinburgh broke royal precedent to appear "live" on BBC television and discourse on the problems besetting the Council of Physical Recreation of which he is president.
The duke explained that Britain is an industrial community, and as her population has increased, there has been less and less room for recreation. The ideal ratio was established by the duke as six acres of playing space per 1,000 population. In Britain today, there is an average of only one and a half acres per thousand. Some unfortunate localities can show only one-third of an acre per thousand. The playing fields which Wellington plugged so enthusiastically after Waterloo are in danger of becoming extinct.
As early as 1900 it became clear that "the health of the nation was not what it might be," the duke continued. By 1936 the lack of recreational facilities was "dreadful." A staggering 79% of the able-bodied population took "no form of regular physical exercise."