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- Healthful Sports for Boys - 10/25 -
before the feet have disappeared beneath the surface. The diver needs to be very quick of hand and eye, and many accidents attest the fact of the game not being worth the candle.
I have seen bathers extend the arms over their heads and fall forward, which generally entails a smart tingling of the chest and stomach, as the body is almost certain to drop flat on the surface.
A very neat plunge, which requires practice and a little pluck, is made by standing erect on the brink edge or board and, instead of springing from the board, allowing the body, kept rigid, to fall forward until it attains the proper distance, then suddenly throw up the feet and plunge in like an arrow and without a splash.
It requires some practice to swim under water, but you can soon do it. It is well to learn how to keep the eyes open under water. This is no more difficult nor painful than it is to keep them open in the air. This skill may be of great use in locating a body that has sunk for the last time. Many such cases have been brought up and restored to consciousness, under proper treatment.
are not as many as land games, but some of them afford good sport. One of these is "Water Bladder," which requires good swimmers, at least they must not be afraid of the water.
To play this game place two places, for goals, at proper distances where the water is overhead, and mark each with crossed rods, the tops about a foot out of water. Divide the party into two sides and take your positions as in an old-fashioned game of football. At the word "Ready," the umpire, who is on the shore or at some convenient point, throws an inflated bladder between the opposite sides. The object of the players is to send the bladder over the enemy's goal, and the rules are very simple. It is foul to interfere with an opponent by putting your hands on him, it is foul to use more than one hand in handling the bladder, but you may swim in front of a man, dive under him, in fact "interfere" in every way you can. Each goal counts one point, and five points make a game.
One might suppose that this would come under the head of boating, but one would be mistaken, for it properly belongs to swimming, as any one who has witnessed or taken part in such a race will tell you.
Each contestant supplies himself with an ordinary washtub. At the word "Go!" he places it in the water, climbs in as best he can, and paddles with his hands for the taw line. This is great fun, and if one out of ten gets through he may count himself fortunate. He may not succeed a second time and will not if the others can help it.
When I was a boy we had no end of sport in running and diving from a springboard. This, as you know, is a long, strong board--the longer the better--one end of which is firmly fixed in the bank and weighted with logs or stones; but no matter how weighted you must see to it that it does not get out of balance.
The free end projects over the water at any desired angle, and care must be taken at the start to see that there are no stones or snags from which harm may come below the surface.
It would be difficult to find anything more graceful than a lot of slender boys speeding up this spring-board and shooting out, feet first or head first, into the river, pond or swimming pool.
When a boy can turn a somersault from the end of the board, and come down feet foremost in a clean-cut way, he may be said to be an expert.
Contrary to the belief of those who have not tried it, it is much easier to turn a back than a forward somersault, though neither can be achieved without some practice.
In the back somersault great care should be taken that the diver leaps far, so as to be free and clear of the board when he turns; otherwise his head may strike with bad results.
As I have said before, diving may be useful in saving life, or in finding objects that have been lost in the water. In such cases it will be necessary to keep the eyes open, otherwise you will be much like one groping in the dark.
The tendency in diving is to keep the eyes closed. There is a feeling that if they are opened the water will hurt them, or that its touch will be painful; but this is a great mistake. If the water is clear, and clear water is the best to swim in, one can see under water nearly as well as on top and the eyes are in no way affected.
Pearl divers in the Persian Gulf sometimes stay under water for minutes at a time, and if they could not keep their eyes open while searching for the pearl shells, their descent would not profit much. The eyes of these people are never injured.
In the Bay of Apia, in the Samoan Islands, I have seen native boys diving from a canoe under the bottom of a great ocean steamer. On one occasion a boy brought up from a depth of fifty feet a silver coin that had been tossed overboard to test his skill.
Never go into the water when at all warm. The best way to enter is to plunge or dive in.
Never go in more than twice a day, even if a fresh lot of boys come down to "dare" you. Learn to laugh at dares.
Never stay in the water more than half an hour at a time, unless there is an absolute need for your so doing. You cannot learn too early that good health is easily lost and hard to regain.
HOW SIDES ARE CHOSEN IN GAMES
When teams from different clubs, or schools, or places meet to try their skill in some game requiring skill and endurance, there is no occasion to "choose sides" for that has been done in advance. But when boys of the same school or association meet for a game, it is necessary that the leaders should be decided on in advance, as also the means by which the respective sides must be chosen.
When two boys are contesting, one may pick up a pebble and ask, "Which hand is it?" If the guess is right, the boy making it is "It." "Drawing straws" is another method of choosing sides, and it is often used as a game in itself.
From a handful of grass, one of the boys selects as many pieces as there are to be players. One of the blades is cut off so that it will be much shorter than the other pieces.
"Straw holder" arranges the straws so that the top ends protrude from his closed fist, either perfectly even or irregular in their height above the hand, according to his fancy. It may happen that the first boy to choose a straw will select the short one. This in a measure spoils the fun, and to guard against it the lads are often made to stand up in a line and each one in turn pulls a straw from the fist of "Straw-holder." Each one is expected and required to put it behind his back immediately and keep it there until all the boys in the line have straws behind their backs.
Then "Straw-holder," holding up the straw left in his own hand, cries, "Who is short straw?" At that each boy produces his straw and compares it with the others.
Another method is to place a button, pebble or other small object that can be easily concealed in one hand. Then, with both fists closed, place one above the other and ask, "Which is it, Joe; high or low?" If the empty hand is chosen the boy goes free. So it goes on, the last holder of the stone being it, for the one making the unlucky guess has to hold the object.
"Odd or Even" is often the method by which the one having the first choice in choosing shall be selected.
The method is as follows: One boy selects at random a handful of pebbles, marbles or other small objects, and closing his hand, asks, as he holds it out: "Odd or even?"
If the other boy should say "odd," and on count the objects prove to be even in number, he has lost, and the other boy has first choice; or if it is a counting-out game, the one who guesses right goes free and the last is "It."
A very old way is to toss up two coins, sometimes boys carry such things, though never for long. "Heads or tails!" cries the tosser. If the other guesses he is free.
Sometimes a stone or a chip, moistened on one side is used, and the boy who tosses it up shouts, "Wet or dry?"
This is simply a variation of heads or tails, or odd or even. Each section and each crowd of boys has its own way of choosing or counting out, and in this case the best known is best.
SOME INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT COUNTING-OUT GAMES AND THE RHYMES USED BY PLAYERS
When children indulge in counting-out games they are quite indifferent to the fact that since the infancy of history and in every land, civilized, barbarous and savage, other children have played the same game, in much the same way, and have used rhymes that are curiously alike. Some learned men use this fact to prove the unity of all races.
Mr. Beard, to whom I am indebted for much, has collected many of these rhymes. It will interest boys to compare some of them with those he already knows.
Sometimes it happens that there are more boys than words in the
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