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Are Gambling Games American? What is truly American in sport ? Was baseball as the “Black Socks” sold it to the gamblers “the national game,” or was it a mean counterfeit? Are “baseball pools” American? Why was Judge Landis hired at great cost? Was it not to eliminate from baseball unamerican practices, especially gambling?
Is race gambling American? Is the term “pari mutuel" American? (All American States save Maryland, Kentucky and Nevada have branded gambling on horse races as just as bad as any other gambling. There is no law against racing. The short trotting race meets in this country where there is no gambling are 51 times as numerous as the running races conducted for gambling profiteers.)
Is any gambling game that drags money-making into sport American or even gentlemanly? Why not solicit business on a golf field ? When a mother returning from a bridge party proudly held up a costly vase saying, “See what I won at bridge," was not her son logical in pulling out of his vest pocket a roll of bills, saying, "And see what I won at poker." The "American commercialism" that cannot stop money-making even in hours of friendly fellowship, is it not unamerican, tested by the unselfish neighborliness of our best people in our best period? And is not this greedy palm, which is intruding into our high school and college sports, smirching them with secret professionalism and commercialism that dishonors the school and the nation? Shall we not sternly say to selfishness dragging "shop" into our social hours in violation of the most fundamental laws of good form: “ 'You go way back and sit down'-at the money drawer where you belong?”
Are Prize Fights American? A books on "Fights" describes in one volume, cock fights, bull fights and prize fights—are they all or any of them American? (Amateur boxing is not here under consideration.) Roosevelt aproved amateur boxing but smote brutal commercialized prize fighting with his “big stick" of denunciation. This is what he said as Governor of New York in 1900, in asking repeal of Horton Act:
“When any sport is carried on primarily for moneythat is, as a business, it is in danger of losing much that is valuable, and of acquiring some exceedingly undesirable characteristics. In the case of prize fighting, not only do all the objections which apply to the abuse of other professional sports apply in aggravated form, but in addition the exhibition has a very demoralizing and brutalizing effect."
Are Our Theatres American? Are motion pictures and dances that appeal to brutal and animal instincts American? The "vaudeville"-what language is that? The vampire films—who produces them? Hardly an American name among their producers. Are the films mostly of good American quality? Do they honor the Pilgrim and Puritan founders of this Republic, or sneer at them? Do they instil obedience to the Constitution or make a jest of its newest moral restriction? Is loyalty to law or crime most held up to sympathetic interest? In the pictures of the relations of men and women, is the Frenchy attitude made alluring, or is the American chivalrous relation most honored? Do the movies habitually respect American laws forbidding lewd exhibitions and Sunday business? Would it be correct to say that hibitual attendance at the movies has given thousands of American boys and girls a wholly unamerican attitude toward vice and crime ?
Americanism Makes Sports Subordinate to Studies
and Business Present day sports and amusements are unamerican in that they often crowd studies back into a secondary place, both in school and college. Dirt is defined, as I have said, as matter out of place. Any amusement is wrong if out of place, and it is in the wrong place when it takes the place of any more serious duty. Is it American for any man to devote himself chiefly to sport, whether as an amateur or professional? Is not that too much like parasitic aristocracy, where royalty and nobility have no serious occupation, and spend life like children in perpetual play?
When a young man beat Herbert Spencer at billiards, and put on a look of pride in consequence, the great philosopher said: “Young man, to play billiards well is the mark of a gentleman, but to play billiards too well is the mark of a mispent life.”
Is it good Americanism to pay our biggest salaries to clowns and showmen ?
Among older people recreation should be mixed with brains. Even in pleasure the will should hold the reins against a runaway.
Americanism Puts Service Above Pleasure Promoters of commercialized dissipations, most of them foreigners, cry aloud that American laws forbidding these harmful amusements are "unamerican.” Let us frankly accept the challenge and consider what true Americanism requires in the relations of gold and pleasure and religion. This is vividly shown in the best story of Mayflower Year, a story that should be told until it is a household word in every American home. Mr. Roger Babson,
the great financial expert, on whom many thousand business men rely for advice, was in that year a guest in the home of the President of one of the South American republics. One day the President sat long in deep thought. Then he said, “Mr. Babson, why do you think South America, with natural resources equal to North America, is so far behind in all forms of social progress ?” Mr. Babson replied, “I would prefer your opinion.” After another long pause, the President said slowly, and with great emphasis, “I think the reason why South America is so far behind North American is that the Spaniards came here seeking gold and pleasure, while the Pilgrims and Puritans came seeking freedom to worship God.”
Like a flashlight that story shows us true Americanism, that is, North Americanism. Americans are not indifferent to "gold,” and take their full share of “pleasure” also. No other nation has made a better record in international sports. But true Americans, worthy successors of Washington and Lincoln, put gold and pleasure in the second and third rank, and keep unselfish service for God and mankind in the first rank. THOSE WHO LIVE CHIEFLY FOR GOLD AND PLEASURE ARE NOT TRUE AMERICANS.
IS AMERICAN "SOCIETY” AMERICAN?
To Follow Up Chapter VII Is there anything more unamerican than what we call "society," whose aristocratic code was imported from Paris and London into New York, and thence spread to other large cities of our land? The late hour at which dances and dinner parties begin in fashionable society is
absurdly copied from the idle aristocracy in which no one is supposed to have anything to do on the next day before a noon breakfast. Americans who leave business at 3 to 5 P. M. must wait till about 10 or later for a dance, and are expected to remain till 2 A. M. at least, although they must be at the bank at 9 A. M. What little talk there is at a "social" function is vapid, and must be steered away from every earnest theme. Insincerity and superficiality are the prevailing notes, from the physical “make up" of the women to the simpering flattery of the men. I recall a social gathering of two Christian families of wealth in New York City when I resided there in which we first encountered some very artificial smiles accompanied by equally unnatural lip stick and rouge coloring. Even seventy-year-old dames uncovered their skeletons, suggesting the remark, afterwards, that as Boston matrons tell their children, "Say your bones," New York fashion decrees that ancient matrons shall show their bones.
The logical thing in neighborly fellowship in winter for a group of educated American men and women, all of whom have the responsibility of sovereign citizens, would be to meet in the early evening, at a simple supper, as men meet in their noon lunches, and discuss cheerfully great questions of politics and education and welfare and religion, with music and speaking furnished by themselves, and just as little of formality as possible, and with no shibboleth of wealth as a test of position but only so much of education and refinement of manners and dress as would be necessary to form a homogeneous and congenial group.
Better one good evening of real fellowship with highminded neighbors than a dozen of the big "receptions," that are really deceptions, where after one has made long preparation in costly dress, nothing comes of it but to