Bowling or ten-pins is a favourite winter amusement of both sexes, and occupies a far more exalted position than the English skittles. The alleys, attached to most gymnasia and athletic-club buildings, are often fitted up with great neatness and comfort; and even the fashionable belle does not disdain her “bowling-club” evening, where she meets a dozen or two of the young men and maidens of her acquaintance. Regular meetings take place between the teams of various athletic associations, records are made and chronicled, and championships decided. If the game could be naturalised in England under the same conditions as in America, our young people would find it a most admirable opportunity for healthy exercise in the long dark evenings of winter.
Track athletics (running, jumping, etc.) occupy very much the same position in the United States as in England; and outside the university sphere the same abuses of the word “amateur” and the same instances of selling prizes and betting prevail. Mr. Caspar Whitney says that “amateur athletics are absolutely in danger of being exterminated in the United States if something is not done to cleanse them.” The evils are said to be greatest in the middle and far West. There are about a score of important athletic clubs in fifteen of the largest cities of the United States, with a membership of nearly 25,000; and many of these possess handsome clubhouses, combining the social accommodations of the Carlton or Reform with the sporting facilities of Queen’s. The Country Club is another American institution which may be mentioned in this connection. It consists of a comfortably and elegantly fitted-up clubhouse, within easy driving distance of a large city, and surrounded by facilities for tennis, racquets, golf, polo, baseball, racing, etc. So far it has kept clear of the degrading sport of pigeon shooting.
Training is carried out more thoroughly and consistently than in England, and many if not most of the “records” are held in America. The visits paid to the United States by athletic teams of the L.A.C. and Cambridge University opened the eyes of Englishmen to what Americans could do, the latter winning seventeen out of twenty events and making several world’s records. Indeed, there is almost too much of a craze to make records, whereas the real sport is to beat a competitor, not to hang round a course till the weather or other conditions make “record-making” probable. A feature of American athletic meetings with which we are unfamiliar in England is the short sprinting-races, sometimes for as small a distance as fifteen yards.