should devote one school hour each day to "calorie-burning" sports,
such as running, jumping, swimming, tumbling and wrestling. Sports which stress
skills rather than body building per se, such as baseball, should only be
permitted after the child's body has started to develop. Intramural programs
should be gone over closely, no matter how proud the physical education
department or the PTA. These programs are often not as effective as they seem.
Studies by Dr. Josephine L. Rathbone of Columbia University indicate that only
20 minutes of each hour assigned to physical education actually are
But perhaps most
important of all, attendance should be made obligatory for every youngster.
Athletically the U.S. rates as one of the most undemocratic countries in the
world—a high school can have as many as 1,000 students, but the only ones who
receive systematic muscular training are those who have the good fortune to win
a place on one of the school's athletic squads. It's a matter of common sense
that the children who get the least exercise are the ones who need it most.
Athletic Union and similar organizations can supplement sports programs in the
schools. The AAU is doing such a job at present with its Junior Olympic
Program, which has attracted more than 500,000 youngsters. But in the long run
the AAU program can't go it alone—it's up to the schools to send forth
youngsters physically prepared to take part.
Kraus-Prudden team and the Kraus-Weber Tests do have their critics.
One such is
Representative Frank M. Karsten, Democrat of Missouri. He fired off a letter to
the President immediately after the White House sports luncheon. Wrote Mr.
Karsten to Mr. Eisenhower: "According to Dr. Kraus' statement, the physical
fitness of American children is eight times lower than the physical fitness of
European children. Simply on the mathematical surface, this is a ridiculous
statement, and I am very much surprised that you would dignify it. . . ."
The congressman then asked the President to explore the matter through "the
proper Governmental Agencies" rather than take stock in Dr. Kraus's
Perhaps the most
studied criticism of the Kraus-Weber Tests has come from two researchers at the
State University of Iowa. Graduate Student Janet At-wood and Associate
Professor Margaret Fox of the Physical Education Department for Women first
took a course of instruction for administering the tests at one of the
Kraus-Prudden test certification clinics. Thus armed, they then gave the
Kraus-Weber Tests to 575 normal, healthy children in grades one through six.
Their findings: the tests "far underestimate" the muscular strength and
flexibility of children tested inasmuch as the children must pass all six tests
with no credit given for partial success in any of the tests.
Miss Atwood and
Dr. Fox point out, so says the release from Iowa, "that to say that a child
has failed these tests of muscular fitness as a whole because he cannot pass
one of them with a score of 100% is as unrealistic as calling a child
feeble-minded because he can't pass a quiz on mathematical skill or vocabulary
mastery in a series testing his intellectual capacity."
Dr. Kraus and
Miss Prudden reply: "A correct comparison would be as follows: a patient
subjected to a medical checkup fails to be healthy in one of the tests, such as
high blood pressure, albumin in the urine or a low blood count. This patient
would still be considered sick in spite of, for example, having perfect hearing
researchers find particular fault with the flexibility test. Southern European
children and adults are shorter than Americans; this means that they are
subject to "less intensive spurts of growth and so should be expected to
retain more flexibility during the growing period." They say that to expect
"maximum flexibility in the child's muscles while his bones are growing
rapidly is like trying to stretch the same rubber band with an increasingly
longer stick.... If you make the stick enough longer, the band just won't
To this Dr.
Kraus and Miss Prudden also have a reply. They say: "To start with, we did
not test southern European children. The children tested were from northern
Italy, Austria and Switzerland. Their sizes were completely comparable with our
own. Furthermore, the floor-touch test is not related to size, but rather to
stress and emotional tension. When the original measurements were established,
Dr. Sonja Weber computed leg length and floor-touch results and found ability
to touch the floor was completely unrelated to size."