Archive for Wednesday, January 24, 2018

World War I in Lawrence: Colleges discuss eliminating baseball

January 24, 2018

Editor’s note: Local writer Sarah St. John compiles reports of what it was like to be in Lawrence 100 years ago during World War I.

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In the spirit of wartime frugality, the Kansas College Association this month discussed “the elimination of college baseball, reduction of expense attached to intercollegiate athletics, lowering of Coach’s and other athletic official salaries, extension of inter-class athletics to the entire student body through military training” at their annual meeting in Topeka. A committee was immediately appointed to draft resolutions based on these suggestions and to send them to the various schools. KU’s Chancellor Strong, president of the association, reportedly “urged against any elimination of college athletics, saying that the government is urging all colleges to keep the work to its highest point of efficiency.” Nearly all the representatives were reported to be in favor of “doing away with baseball.”

Another report from KU in January, 1918, indicated that “special courses in military science and wireless telegraphy” were to be offered for credit next semester. The great need for skilled wireless operators was given as the reason for the courses.

Mrs. Orville H. Martin, visiting with KU’s female students this week, reported that their viewpoint on wartime work was encouraging in its “saneness and wholesomeness.” “Only a few even mentioned going to France and one young woman, who had academic French and wanted a place there, yielded readily to arguments proving that she was unfitted for foreign work,” Mrs. Martin remarked. She explained that “only women having good knowledge of idiomatic French, and of stenography in addition, should consider foreign work.” Continuing her praise of the KU women, she added, “Their viewpoint is much more genuine than any I have met with for several months. Everywhere that I have been college women have been eager to go to France,’ she said, ‘to the exclusion of everything else, in spite of the fact that they had had no training fitting them for the work there.’”

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