Good Advice from a President to His Son

U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was an avid sports enthusiast. But he also saw a potential danger in that enthusiasm. Here is a portion of a letter he wrote to his son Ted while Ted was away at school. This advice is as sound today as it was when he wrote it, and is a good reminder to pass on to our own sons.

White House, Oct. 4, 1903

Dear Ted,

…I am delighted to have you play football. I believe in rough, manly sports. But I do not believe in them if they degenerate into the sole end of anyone’s existence. I don’t want you to sacrifice standing well in your studies to any over-athleticism; and I need not tell you that character counts for a great deal more than either intellect or body in winning success in life. Athletic proficiency is a mighty good servant, and like so many other good servants, a mighty bad master.

(The Letters & Lessons of Theodore Roosevelt for His Sons, compiled and edited by Doug Phillips, ©2003 Vision Forum Inc, page 35)

(Portrait of Theodore Roosevelt by John Singer Sargeant, courtesy of the White House Historical Association)

Written by Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson is a wife, mother, grandmother, teacher and author. She has taught Sunday School for over 20 years and writes God-centered curriculum for Children Desiring God.

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