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GAMES FOR GIRLS A MEDlICAL REPORT ,The London correspondent of the Melbourne "Age" writes: For' some time past a controversy has been going on in England re garding' the etiects on girls and young women of , out-door - games, such as tennis, netball, hockey, cricket, football, lacrosse. golf. and other forms of exercise, such as swimmiing, rowing, aid cycling. Most of these. games and- sport. are indulged in at girls' schools in England, but.the number which en courage cricket, football, rowing, and lacrosse is not large. Head mistresses ans medical men and women were the chief participants in the, controversy, and most of them expressed such decided opin ions that it was impossible for -"e general public, watching the con troversy, to ascertain on which side the truth lay. One side contended that vigorous games of the kind mentioned are highly beneficial to the physicail development of girls as the future mothers of the race, -and the other .side contended that they are injurious, both to the in dividual and the future of the race. It was asserted by some that hard exercise, such as these games in volve, incapacitates a -girl for motherhood by draining her vital and nervous energy at a time when she should be storing it up for the needs of later life. On the other hand, noted obstetric surgeons de clared that it was absurb to ascribe sterility to participation. in games, and that as childbirth. is itself a muscular effort, a woman's capacity for it is strengthened by exercise. From Whom Information Was . Sought. In order to obtain further in. formation on this subject. which is of great importance to educational and health authorities, the College Kif ureceptors appointed a, commit tee to consider the matter and draw up a report. The membership of this committee included representa tives of the Royal College of Phi' sicians, the Royal College of Sur. geons, the British Medical Women's Federation, the British Association of Physical Training, the National Union of Women Teachers the As sociation of Assistant Mistresses in Secondary Schools. the Privdte Schools' Association. and the Col lere of Precentors. The committee sent out to medi cal men and women. to women medical students, and to head mis tresses of schools a. list of nquestions nto which it invited replies. The doe tors were asked to state under the seal of secrecy what effects, if any, they hatd 4bserwed from physmeia education, including games and sports, on girls over 12 years of age. whether their experience indicated which should be modified or avoid ed altogether by girls in their-teens and on mnarried women. They were asked to give details of any depart. uire from hekith which seemed at tributable to physical education, and that there are any games or snsrts The committee has received' 629 replies. of which 233 came from medical uractitioners. 158 from wo. men medical students, and 185 from'
head mistresses.. 'The replies from inembers of - the tnedical protesr siodi were 'submitted to - i rub-cow' mittee of enineflta physicians and surgeons, represeriting - t;ic . isted mearcal a=soeiations 'tentioned ahove. This sub-committee dhrtw up a report, of which the following are the chief points: "Suitable physical education, in cliding gamnes. and sports, is as generally benieficial to girls as to boys. There is, however, need- for discrimination; individual girls' may be unfit for particular forms of exer tion, and on. this account medical examination as to fitness -is general ly desirable. ''Among the particular games which the cominittee had under con sideration, viz., -tennis netball. la crosse, golf;. hockey, cricket, and .football, only the last is considered unsuitable for girls." Of sports, swimming, rowing, cycling horse-, riding, are alJ good for girls, pro vided that,'they are 'carried out un der suitable conditions, and. excess is avoided. YCompetitive games and sports are equally permissible,. provided that they are undertaken with due regard to the fitness of tlw individ ual. Any game or sport ,,may be come unsuitable if practised in such a way or. to such degree. as to cause undue strain or fatigue. Therb is also a balance between mental' exertion and physical fatigue. which canhot be altogether ignored.' A. girl who is working at high pres sure for examinations may have to play. games less strenuously. On the, other hand, fatigue by physicpl exercise is a bad preparation for mental work. "With regard to gymnastics, whether with or without apparatus. there is no doubt 6! the ,value of disciplined exercises. under expert direction, as promoting the har monious development of the muscles and preventing faulty position and carriage. The 'use of apparatus en tails special care, as 'injurious `f fects may come from- injudiciois ex ercise of this' sort. "An important question in connection. with the physical education of girls is whether and to what degree there should be restriction of physical exercise diring the menstrual period.. Ab stention from games and sports has been very generally. recommended hitherto, but in recent years ev-i dence ha.s beew brought forward to show that these restrictions are harmful rather -than beneficial. The medical members of the joint com mittee are* not prepared at theL present time to state any final judg went on the question, but consider that the evidence they, have justifies more extensive trial of the volun", tory continuance of games, sports, and gymnastics .(swimming except .ed) during the menstrual period. "Perhaps the most important point which arises in 'connection with the physical edication of girls is its influence in after-life, if any, upon motherhood. It is difficult to obtain conclusive evidence on this point. On the whole it would seem that there is no clear proof that strenuous. physical education has any special influence either upon the prospects of motherhood or upon the difficulty of labour."
Fotball Not Generally Approved. -1 Among the 185 head nimstreft* who answered the list of questions there was almost unanimity in the opinion that games and physical exercises have beneficial, effects on the disposition and character - of girls. But. a small proportion ex pressed -the view that there was a tendency to magnify the importance of .games. Lawn tennis anid netball received general approval; hockey was approved' by the majority, but sorpe thought it was too tough ori strenuous for girls, and ,others be lieved it suitable only for the older and stronger girls. Only 52kchool mistresses answered the question regarding fobtball' as a game .for girls2 and only two of these ap proved of it. Most of the womnen medical students who replied to this question objected to football as. a game for girls. General approval of swimming, was expressed, but as this exercise entails some strain on the .heart;, it was recognised that it would not be suitable for-all girls. Th&ellan ger of heart strain is even greater in rowing, and on this account, -arid because of the strenuous' nature of the exercise, there were many, who objected to it. Racing in rowing was generally condeaufed:. Cycling was approved, provided the exercise is carried out in moderationi, and the cycle is properly adjusted to the requirements of the individual; but some school mistresses insisted that when girls have to cycle a.long distance to school the strain makes them unfit for mental work. - The view was expressed that con tests in aames and sports require careful limitation and grading, with the object of 'preventing over strain. There was a general agree ment that ill effects would be less likely to. occur from the more strenuous forms of physical educa tion, if previous medical ekamina tion became the rule. It. was also suggested that the.risk of all ef fects would be reduced, if a brief tunime was given d 3vý .to sports and games, _instead o! comparatively long period once or twice a week. On the question whether gymnas tics, with apparatus, is suitable for girls, about two-thirds of the school mistresses approved'; but many of them qualified their approval with the statement that where apparatus is used theyre 'is need for careful supervision of the. exercises.