Thank you for your cool, accurate appraisal of the Santee thing (SI, Feb. 27,March 5 & 12). Too much sentimentality, primarily on the part ofjournalistic sensationalists, has been wafted about over the matter. Again,thanks for printing the facts.
STEVE AND DOUG STONE
A VOICE FROM THEOTHER SIDE
Thanks for your coverage of the Knights of Columbus mile races (SI, March 12).I was one of the very few in the Garden that Saturday who did not go into wildcheering when Santee came on the scene. To me Santee is not now, never has beenand never will be the runner he thinks he is. I saw him run in the Californiameets of last spring, and a more conceited person I have never seen in theworld of sports.
I loudly cheeredDelany but I am afraid my voice was a bit drowned out by the booing. Once more,thank you for at least giving a report on the other side of the fence.
The amateur angle in our athletics is getting weirder all the time. The troubleis, we are trying to compromise and it can't be done. You are either an amateurathlete or you are not. Apparently the only spot on the globe where thesimon-pure amateur exists is in the British Isles. You may not accept even 10¢for expense money and still be an amateur.
March 19, 1956
Why not coin aword and call it semi-amateur athletics? A person who is given expense money toparticipate in a track meet is not, strictly speaking, an amateur; he is not apro either, because he ostensibly does not make a living by it. He is inbetween, a semi-amateur.
We now havesemi-amateur athletes. The AAU should recognize them as such. If they did, allthis controversy about expense money would end, and so would all the hullabalooabout amateur athletics. The Olympics Committee also should certainly recognizethe semi-amateur status. They would be foolish not to. The Russians are mostassuredly using the semi-amateur status and are getting publicity and prestigeby their successes in the Winter Olympics.
KENNETH R. PYATT
As an ex-college athlete I am much interested in the current dispute betweenMr. Santee and the Amateur Athletic Union.
Because the AAUallows payment of perfectly legitimate expenses to athletes competing insponsored meets, it has gotten itself into two highly uncomfortable hassles.First, by allowing an athletic event to be run by a business organization (thesponsor of the meet), the AAU is in the entertainment and merchandisingbusiness. Secondly, by allowing expenses, it has been forced to state, ineffect, that all athletes are equal but some are more equal than others. Inother words, the stars that pull in the crowds are entitled to more expensesthan the little guys who provide the backdrop. How much more expenses is not inthe hands of the AAU, but is up to the old law of demand and supply, whichcertainly has nothing to do with amateur athletics. There is only one WesSantee, and as long as the AAU allows payments and allows outsiders to runtheir meets the one and only Wes Santee is worth a lot of money to thepromoters, and everyone knows it.
If we believe inthe concept of amateur sports, and it seems to me that the country by and largestill does, then very plainly we must have an organization that not only laysdown the rules but also schedules the events, hires a stadium for them,transports, feeds and houses the competing athletes, supervises the events andsends the boys home again. This the AAU does not do: the AAU is the keeper ofthe flame of amateurism but leaves the dirty work of organizing athletic eventsto people who have no interest in, respect for and understanding of its sacredprinciples.
I suggest thatfrom now on the AAU allows only its own officials to promote meets, payscompeting athletes reasonable expenses from the proceeds and allows no one elseto meddle in its business.
In order to dothis successfully the AAU must whittle itself down from thousands of regionaland local "officials" who very often use their AAU connection tofurther their own business purposes to a handful of dedicated, uncompromisingand businesslike officials who get paid well for the job and have thebackground to do it.
If this soundslike a contradiction, let me remind your readers, especially your Mr. Doyle(19TH HOLE, March 12), that we pay our Supreme Court Justices, our Presidentand our lawmakers, all of whom are engaged in the formation and supervision ofobjective principles.
B. G. J. BROWN
There is only one obvious solution to the "problem" of amateurism. Allamateur competitions, especially track and field events, must take place oncollege campuses. The moment you "invite" amateur athletes to competein hired halls, cow palaces, boxing arenas or whatnots you are dealing with aprofessional event.
Since track andfield meets with only the best athletes invited are so popular with the cashcustomers, why not hold them in football stadiums with the price of admissiondefraying traveling expenses of visiting athletes? What could be simpler? Whoneeds "The Greater Cowtown Herald-Scimitar (Voice of the Cowtown Valley)Track and Field Carnival of Super Stars"?
JUNE MILLER HENDRIESEN
I think it is about time that ultraconservative Avery Brundage realized that weare not living in a dream world where the athlete is the ideal, red-bloodedAmerican boy. An athlete must earn a living, and a job usually requires nine or10 hours a day, including travel time. If the United States athletes are toapproach the quality of the Russian athletes they will have to practice andpractice hard. The Russian "amateur" athletes only work part of the dayand have the remainder at their disposal for practice. Is it so wrong forUnited States athletes to accept exorbitant expense money when they compete tooffset the money lost while practicing at the expense of their jobs? Mr. Santeewas not working at the time of the races in question and so he had no income,but he still had expenses.
As long as theworld continues to change as rapidly as it has been doing lately we mustrealize that the athlete is changing also. Mid-Victorian ideals do not work inthe Atomic Age.
Together with thousands of other sports fans I feel that the AAU should cleanup its own house before it starts throwing mud at others. If Torchy Torrancewith his slush fund of thousands of dollars can remain an AAU official Ishouldn't think that the men who run the AAU would want to quibble overSantee's few cents....
TIME FOR ACHANGE?
I think SI is straddling the fence in this AAU-Santee fight. I do not thinkthat SI's stand, which in effect says: "There is a little bad and a lot ofgood in the AAU and a little good and a lot of bad in Santee," explainsanything. If the AAU is at the mercy of thousands of its own bumbling andselfish officials, then it's time to create a better policing and policy bodyfor amateur sport in this country.
Wes Santee cannotbe expected to respect the amateur code if he cannot respect the people whosupervise its administration.
•SI stated theissue succinctly by pointing out (E & D, March 5) that the most significantthing about the AAU decision was not the banishment of Santee (other greatathletes have been banished before) but its denunciation of certain meetofficials and its announced intention to investigate and control abuses in theamateur code. Santee's ruined ambitions are a matter for sincere regret but theAAU action should be recognized as perhaps the first step in preventing evenworse corruption of amateur ideals.—ED.
We have read A Duel on the Sea (SI, March 5) with great interest. We both aregreat admirers of Ted Williams and Sam Snead but feel that Williams never had achance in the fishing contest. We have fished with Sam over a period of 20years or more and know what kind of a fisherman he is.
Probably one ofthe reasons that Sam has turned to Florida for his fishing is the fact that hehas caught all the fish there are to catch in the Jackson River.
Hot Springs, Va.
•"That'ssilly, that's so much hogwash," Ted Williams laughed when SI's reporterrelayed the thoughts of Messrs. Folks and Hirsh. "Anybody in the worldknows I'm a better fisherman than Snead. I'm better at spinning, I'm better atfly casting, I'm better at rigging bait. There's no quims or quams about it.Just ask Jimmy Albright," he said, jabbing the reporter in the ribs.
Who is JimmyAlbright? the innocent reporter asked.
"The bestguide in the Keys," Williams replied. "He's fished all the greatfishermen, including me. He'll tell you how good I am."
Are you implying,the reporter asked cautiously, that you are the greatest fisherman in the worldtoday?
Williamshesitated just a moment. "Well, I'm as good as anybody I can think of."Another brief pause, "And better than 99.99% of them. This Snead businessis foolish. Even Sam will tell you he's not in my class, and if you don'tbelieve me just ask Jimmy Albright. If there's one thing I know how to do it'sfish."
With that, Tedgave SI's reporter a long, hard look, took his turn in the batting cage andsmashed the first ball 400 feet to right of the scoreboard, shattering a neonsign advertising the local power company. The sign had been set up only theprevious evening.—ED.
A DUFFER LOOKS ATBOATS AND SKIS
I don't suppose the history of sport has ever seen anything remotely like thefantastic boom in skiing and boating which has taken place in the U.S. in thelast 10 years. It is too bad that the spirit and atmosphere in which these twogreat new sports are carried out is so different.
I happen to beone of those who does both, and being a double duffer has opened my eyes. Forthe past three summers I have taken my boat and blundered around Long IslandSound, banging into docks, inadvertently plowing through sailboat races,bothering yacht club officials and marina owners with my inexperience andunawareness of custom and the right way to do things. In all this time andthrough all these mistakes I have always been made to feel welcome. Everybodyhas been smilingly tolerant of my blunders and has leaned over backwards tohelp me and straighten me out.
I cannot say thesame for skiing; in fact, quite the opposite.
Skiing seems tobe shot through with class consciousness. I have occasionally broken into thecharmed circle of the ski bums and a good 50% of the conversation on theseoccasions has consisted of gripes and complaints about how the novices andSunday skiers were cluttering up the slopes and getting in the way of theexperts. I recently had the temerity to go clear to the top of the mountain ata well-known skiing resort in the East. When I got there, neither my costumenor my technique marked me as anything but an indifferent skier. A member ofthe ski patrol—supposedly both guardian of the slopes and ambassador of thesport—came up to me and harshly "advised" me to ride the lift back downthe mountain. When I asked him why, he said: "You beginners fall down allthe time and scrape the snow off the slope for us good skiers." Naturally,I didn't go down the lift and I took pains to scrape away a good deal ofsnow.
There is a bigdifference in the spirit and atmosphere which pervades America's two great newmass sports, and I think it is a crying shame.
PHILIP H. WOOTTON JR.
John Huston is wrong in considering the Bengal tiger the world's largest(Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright, SI, Feb. 27).
One of the thingswe learned in Siberia during the first World War was that the Amur tiger,ranging from the Amur River country down through the Ussuri Valley and into themountains of Korea, was half again as large as the Bengal tiger and far morebrilliant in coloring. Karl Hagenback, the animal dealer, had a hunting stationin Iman in the Ussuri Valley. He captured and placed in the Vladivostok zoofour magnificent specimens of Amur tigers. A Bengal tiger, by comparison,looked almost insignificant.
•Mr. Roberts, theauthor of several distinguished historical novels, is correct in assuming theSiberian tiger (Panthera tigris longipilis) to be an overall larger animal thanhis Bengal cousin (Panthera tigris tigris), but individual Bengals can outweighindividual Amurs, depending in part on the range inhabited, food supply andtime of year. Unfortunately there is no record book of Asiatic game comparableto the Boone & Crockett records on North American big game since RowlandWard, Ltd. stopped publishing its Records of Big Game in 1935. However, on Nov.29, 1954 the Maharajah of Mysore claimed a world record with a Bengal tiger"well over 700 pounds."—ED.
SEE HOW THEYRUN
In your handsome issue of February 20, you note that the Russian trotters wereworsted by the French horses at Vincennes and that it finally dawned on theRussian drivers and trainers that French horses might be able to run fasterthan the trotters from the USSR. This was also a source of some surprise to me.While I was covering Russia during the war, I was privileged to see the Soviettrotters being wintered near Kuibyshev on the Volga. They had been evacuatedthere from all parts of the Soviet Union and were surprisingly well fed andconditioned despite the fact that the Germans were hammering on the gates ofMoscow. The Russian handlers were pleased to inform me that their trotters weremostly of Hambletonian and Hanover lines and that they had been fortunateenough to import a number of stud horses from the U.S. in 1939. Of course, ifthere is one thing the Russians do know, it is horses, if not machines. So itwas probably startling to them too, that some of America's best blood linesshould have been beaten by the French.
Although you seemore horses in Russia in a week than you do in this country in a year, theCommunists seem to consider flat racing as bourgeois as golf. The workhorse ofRussia, as well as the mount for their famed Cossack cavalry, is the nativesteppe pony, a hardy, shaggy and thrifty little animal slightly smaller thanour American mustang. The Russians have developed a handsome breed by crossingthe steppe pony with Arab Thoroughbreds obtained from England inprerevolutionary days. This is called the Anglo-Don and is much favored as apersonal mount by Soviet army generals. A fine white Anglo-Don was presented toGeneral Omar Bradley at the April, 1945 Elbe River meeting of the armies. Heinformed me that he was unfortunately forced to leave it in Europe.
SHOULD HE NOT DOSOMETHING?
I have read with a good deal of interest your article about the Beaverkill (SI,Feb. 27). I fished this wonderful trout stream first in 1906 and from time totime until 1930. I used to stop at John Cammers' and later at Murray Davison's,close to the old covered bridge.
I am shocked tolearn that garbage dumps are common along the banks of this beautiful streamand should think that New York State could do something about this.
Is your presentgovernor a fisherman?
RALPH E. WESTERVELT
•In a"scouting report" of the 1956 Presidential candidates, SI said (Jan.2): "Governor Averell Harriman...topnotch bridge player, skier, bassfisherman."—ED.
HEAR THIS CRY,AMERICA
Sparse Grey Hackle's The Scandal of the Desecrated Shrine is a beautiful workof writing and a cry of pain for the America that all too soon will vanish.
The people whowere given the trust to keep our fields, woods, hills and streams from beingswallowed by the onslaught of civilization are not sufficiently interested.
Everybody claimsthey love this great land of ours—but where is their love? Everyone looksforward to a day in the country, but not enough to insure the day over and overthrough the years.
Hear this cry ofanguish, America, for soon you will be able to reach places you have only readabout—only to find the skeletons of what once were silent prayers.
WALTER M. NOVAK
IF I WERE THESANITATION DEPARTMENT
It is awful that a once beautiful river like the Beaverkill is now just agarbage dump. I just can't see why people insist on ruining the beautifulresources and natural wildlife of the United States. Where once lived trout andother healthy fish now flow a bunch of stinking carp. If I were any kind ofofficial in the department of sanitation, I would place such a large fine ondumping that nobody would ever try to chance it.
MIKE J. MABIN
La Grange Park, Ill.
THE BIRTHPLACE OFMY INTEREST
Seven years ago—I was 13 years old then—I caught my first trout about 100 yardsbelow the old covered bridge on the Beaverkill. This kindled my interest infish and wildlife, and now I am a student of wildlife conservation at theUniversity of Maine.
I have oftenreturned to the birthplace of my interest in fish. It amazes me to see suchdepletion in such a few years.
STEPHEN H. TAUB