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THE HEALTHY BODY CONCEPT
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.
THE QUESTION REMAINS UNANSWERED
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.
?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