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As I understand it, sport is hard work for which you do not get paid. If, for hire, you should consent to go forth and spend eight hours a day slamming a large and heavy hammer at a mark, that would be manual toil, and you would belong to the union and carry a card, and have political speeches made to you by persons out for the labor vote. But if you do this without pay, and keep it up for more than eight hours on a stretch, it then becomes sport of a very high order–and if you continue it for a considerable period of time, at more or less expense to yourself, you are eventually given a neat German-silver badge, costing about two dollars, which you treasure devotedly ever after. A man who walks twenty-five miles a day for a month without getting anything for it–except two lines on the sporting page–is a devotee of pedestrianism, and thereby acquires great merit among his fellow athletes. A man who walks twenty-five miles a day for a month and gets paid for it is a letter-carrier.

Also sport is largely a point of view. A skinny youth who flits forth from a gymnasium attired in the scenario of a union suit, with a design of a winged Welsh rarebit on his chest, and runs many miles at top speed through the crowded marts of trade, is highly spoken of and has medals hung on him. If he flits forth from a hospital somewhat similarly attired, and does the same thing, the case is diagnosed as temporary insanity–and we drape a strait-jacket on him and send for his folks. Such is the narrow margin that divides Marathon and mania; and it helps to prove that sport is mainly a state of mind.

I am speaking now with reference to our own country. Different nations have different conceptions of this subject. Golf and eating haggis in a state of original sin are the national pastimes of the Scotch, a hardy race. At submarine boating and military ballooning the French acknowledge no superiors. Their balloons go up and never come down, and their submarines go down and never come up. The Irish are born club swingers, as witness any police force; and the Swiss, as is well known, have no equals at Alpine mountain climbing, chasing cuckoos into wooden clocks, and running hotels. I’ve always believed that, if the truth were only known, the reason why the Swiss Family Robinson did so well in that desert clime was because they opened a hotel and took in the natives to board.

Among certain branches of the Teutonic races the favorite indoor sport is suicide by gas, and the favorite outdoor sport is going to a schutzenfest and singing Ach du lieber Augustin! coming home. To Italy the rest of us are indebted for unparalleled skill in eating spaghetti with one tool–they use the putting iron all the way round. Our cousins, the English, excel at archery, tea-drinking and putting the fifty-six pound protest. Thus we lead the world at contesting Olympian games and winning them, and they lead the world at losing them first and then contesting them. In catch-as-catch-can wrestling between Suffragettes and policemen the English also hold the present championship at all weights. And so it goes.

We in America have a range of sports and pastimes that is as wide as our continent, which is fairly wide as continents go. In using the editorial we here I do not mean, however, to include myself. At sport I am no more than an inoffensive onlooker. One time or another I have tried many of our national diversions and have found that those which are not strenuous enough are entirely too strenuous for a person of fairly settled habits. It is much easier to look on and less fatiguing to the system. I find that the best results along sporting lines are attained by taking a comfortable seat up in the grandstand, lighting a good cigar and leaning back and letting somebody else do the heavy work. Reading about it is also a very good way.