True Manliness of Character

July 21, 2010

I’ve been making my way through Theodore Roosevelt’s letters to his sons.  Teddy, if I may call him that, had a somewhat important job that frequently kept him away from home.  In the absence of cell phones and email, Teddy consequently put pen to paper, writing each of his four sons individually.  Dads like me are now the beneficiaries of Teddy’s fatherly wisdom.

On October 2, 1903, Teddy wrote the following letter to his son Kermit.  Dads, have you ever wondered about the balance of sports and academics for your boys?  Here is Teddy’s take, and he throws one other consideration into the mix too:

Am glad you are playing football.  I should be very sorry to see either you or Ted devoting most of your attention to athletics, and I haven’t got any special ambition to see you shine overmuch in athletics in college, …because I think it takes up too much time; but I do like to feel that you are manly and able to hold your own in rough, hardy sports.  I would rather have a boy of mine stand high in his studies than high in athletics, but I could a great deal rather have him show true manliness of character than show either intellectual or physical prowess; and I believe you and Ted both bid fair to develop just such character.  (The Letters and Lessons of Theodore Roosevelt for His Sons, 56).

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