Let me tell you something of the history of these attempts by the elders to curb the everlasting spirit of youth. At one time they would have eliminated all the sports. But we didn’t let croquet become the national game! You ask what this nation of ours will become, and in reply I ask you what will you make of your boys?
Statisticians tell us that 90 per cent. of the men who go into business fail. Do you want your boy to fold his hands and say that because the chances are against him he will not try at all?
Are you going to let him get such a maximum of old man’s caution that he reduces to a minimum the young man’s courage?
Make him strong and well, just as you wish the nation to be strong and sound. There will always be plenty of middle-aged failures to preach caution.
Teach your boy fair play and may the best man win.
Teach him that the true sportsman “boasts little, crows gently when in luck, puts up, pays up, and shuts up when beaten”; that he should be strong in order to protect his country. A boy may over-emphasize his sports, but he will get over that. They tell us about the good old times when boys at college spent all their time in study and loved one another. There never were any such times. The town-and-gown riots took the place of sports, that’s all.
We are all of us very much interested in the life of an automobile tire, and it seems to speak to us in terms we can readily understand. But only the particularly wise and successful men of our generation know and appreciate how valuable the life of a man is when expressed in those same terms of good hard dollars. Many manufacturers in the last two or three years have awakened to the fact that when, they put in a man and he stayed with them only two or three months, or even, in the case of executives, two or three years and then dropped out, either to go elsewhere or on account of ill health, it was a very distinct loss. In other words, they had put a certain investment into the man and that investment should have been growing more valuable to them all the time.
Germany’s General Staff, previous to this war, was working overtime, just as our Cabinet and National Board of Defense are doing now—namely, till midnight and beyond. But the German General Staff was taken out into the Thiergarten in the morning for from one to two hours of exercise as a beginning of the day.
It therefore sifts itself down to this: If we had an ordnance officer who fired a gun, that was tested for but two hundred rounds without heating, five hundred times and thus cracked it, he would probably be discharged. If the superintendent in a factory doubled the number of hours he was running his automatic machinery, and instead of doubling the amount of oil actually cut it in half and thus ruined the machines, he would be regarded as a fool. Yet we are letting our men, high in executive positions, heads of departments in the government, and leaders of manufacturing, transportation, and commercial interests, do this very thing. Is it possible that we regard them as less valuable to us in this emergency than machines and guns, that we should burn them out for lack of lubricant and rest or physical conservation?