AVERY BRUNDAGE ON THE SPOT.
I think it's high time somebody realized what Avery Brundage (Olympians Put Avery Brundage on the Spot, Aug. 27) is standing for and talking about and came out on his side. When you get right down to it, all he is demanding is that amateurs be amateurs.
Get over onto some sport in which professionals are not yet taken as a matter of course—fishing, for instance. And then you will realize that the moment a man begins to have a pecuniary interest in it, he has lost everything but the money.
A. W. MILLER
I have just finished reading the interview with Avery Brundage, and I'm so mad I can hardly contain myself long enough to write this.
Pray tell me, how many Olympic sports are there on which one could capitalize professionally? I wasn't aware that professional shotputters, pole vaulters, dash men, et al. were very much in professional demand these days. Nor was I aware that major league ball clubs paid salaries for Olympic gold medals; I thought they were looking for baseball players who could hit, field, throw, etc. How much do prize fighters get for Olympic medals? I thought their earnings depended on their success against other professionals.
September 16, 1956
And heaven knows we should protect ourselves from the former Olympic champion turned coach. It's a cinch that the next generation of amateur athletes won't need any help from coaches to develop their full potentials.
The thing that really rankles is that all this is due supposedly to the fact that "there still remain a few amateur standards." Remain since when, since their publication a few months ago? Apparently the time-honored standard, that an amateur is one who has never participated in a sport for profit, is not good enough for Mr. Brundage.
Please, please, won't somebody save sport from this man and his fantastic mental gyrations?
WILLIAM R. THOMAS III
Silver Spring, Md.
Mr. Brundage might well consider the fact that nearly all the coaches of track and field, in colleges and out, are professionals. Before their coaching days many were Olympic aspirants and some were on Olympic teams.
There is no more dedicated group than the self-sacrificing men and women who work in this field. What a sad state our Olympic hopes would be in without the counsel and help of these former amateurs.
Would Mr. Brundage have it otherwise?
W. F. DEAN
Bill Smith, an athletic coach at a local high school, has been declared ineligible for the Olympics this year. He was the only American to win a gold medal in wrestling four years ago in Helsinki. Since that time he has engaged not as a professional but rather as a teacher. With great effort he has succeeded in getting back into shape to again qualify. He has used his own money to make this effort. He might even sign Brundage's purity oath. Had he wished to capitalize on his wrestling ability he certainly would not have gone into high school teaching when he could more than hold his own in the harmless exhibitions of wrestling being staged on TV for considerable loot these days. He would have entered their ranks upon his return from the Games four years ago.
We have our Brundages, Jack Kellys, Frank Stranahans who have the means to support themselves clearly from their families' incomes, and they are all champions in their own right. More power to all of them. But I say, without any class malice, that it is certainly creditable when a fellow can by his own will not only be an equal champion but find time to support himself and a family at the same time. Because he was not able to pay school expenses from his own pocket, Smith has been declared ineligible. I can't see how Brundage can live with himself and make such a decision and at the same time approve the practices of our Army and Navy of shifting men so they can train for the Games while still being given their pay. I don't think this practice is wrong either—but neither do I feel they are compatible.
JOHN A. SANDBERG
Amateurism in sports is antiquated, unrealistic in today's world, and based on snobbery. Dividing athletes into classes on the basis of earnings from participation doesn't make any more sense than trying to do the same thing to doctors, lawyers, engineers or any other group. By far the greatest number of spectators at athletic contests want to see the best competitors possible for their entrance fee and have no interest in the income or other financial status of the participants. No doubt Mr. Brundage derives some sort of sadistic satisfaction from forcing fine young athletes to become liars, cheats and hypocrites by signing his meaningless and asinine oath.
J. P. FLINT
In my opinion Mr. Brundage is off the beam in his argument that sports fans will discontinue their contributions to the Olympic Games if amateur athletes are not made to sign the silly oath of nonintention to become professionals. Mr. Brundage may deserve great praise for his life-long work in the field of sports but he too is only human. Like a prominent physician, he too can make a fatal error.
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has put Mr. Brundage on the spot. This may be the best thing that has ever happened in sports.
It is rather interesting to note that the Greeks faced the same situation with respect to winners as does Mr. Brundage and his "people of substance." Theoretically, the only reward the ancient Greek got for winning an event was a crown of wild olive from the sacred olive tree. Actually winners were banqueted by the state of Elis. The victor returned home in triumph, entering the city in a chariot at the head of a chanting procession. He was celebrated in the panegyrics of the poets and lived for the remainder of his life at public expense.
Mr. Brundage not only resembles old Socrates—he acts like him. Socrates called himself the gadfly of Athens. His "inner voice" always told him what to do and he made such an infernal nuisance of himself in Athens that, much against their better feelings, they gave him a fatal Mickey Finn.
H. J. WRIGHT
•Socrates advised "the pupil who devotes himself to the practice of gymnastics" to disregard the uninformed opinion of the crowd and to "act and train, eat and drink in the way which seems good to a single master who has understanding."—ED.
I think that the participant should be allowed to become a coach at any time following his Olympic participation. A coach should not be considered a professional any more than a club owner.
As an ardent sports fan I think I can speak for many Americans by saying we're sick of Avery Brundage. His very name brings pale green nausea to American sports fans.
Everybody gains from the Olympics: the city in which it is held; the well-paid officials; the transportation companies; TV networks. In fact, everybody—including the athlete. How? Primarily by the publicity given to his name and talent so that he may some day turn this ability into something which will pay his bills and feed his family. Is this too much to ask in return for his grueling effort on the practice field? There is one thing which makes Brundage a little worse than other dictators. He not only wants to control the present but the future of America's best, also.
Avery Brundage's logic is a boon to the lowly duffer! I have been an "aspiring" professional golfer for many a year.
Not only that, I have also aspired to win the Tarn O' Shanter. Consequently, please tell Ted Kroll to send my winnings to the address below and then look out, Marilyn Monroe!
GEORGE R. NASH
Let's face facts: What money is there for any track or field star if he turns professional? Virtually none. He is certainly not capitalizing on his amateur fame if he becomes a coach or if he becomes a professional in some other sport. If Brundage's obstinate stand keeps any American athlete off our team, he is blinding himself to the truth about Russian athletes and is either giving them the Games through their state-controlled athletes or making hypocrites of our own athletes.
If this oath has to be signed, someone has been guilty of collecting a great deal of money under false pretenses, because I know of a great many contributors who would not have given any money had they known about this ridiculous pledge first. I challenge him to name what Olympic athlete besides Jesse Owens ever capitalized on his medals by personal exhibitions.
B. V. WILSON
After careful study of the IOC ruling, I find myself in the surprising position of being a professional athlete. Possibly you can give me some advice.
During a period from Sept. 1948 until June 1955 when I was 9 years old, I competed in sports under the false impression that I was an amateur. My problem centers around the modest number of awards and medals that I have accumulated during this period.
You see when I was 9 my one desire in life was to become a professional football player. The fact that I never attained the stature necessary seems to have little bearing on my guilt, for you see, when once a person decides he is going to become a professional he is not participating purely for pleasure and thus becomes a professional.
Do the readers think that it would be best for me to return my awards so that they can properly be distributed to the deserving amateur athletes?
I would like to get my two cents' worth into this argument before all the tumult and the shouting die.
A REQUIEM FOR MR. RICE
Oh, for the days of Granny Rice,
Before the amateur had his price;
When sportsmen such as Bobby Jones
Were not negotiating loans;
When Bruins were considered bears,
Not enterprising hommes d'affaires;
When Huskies merely romped for joy,
Before they raised this Hel-en Troy;
When tennis wasn't just a racket,
To elevate one's income bracket;
When amateurish buds weren't grafting,
Before the age of high school drafting;
Those days when young and old cavorted,
Without requests to be supported.
Alas! the world of sport has drifted,
In short the gifted must be gifted.
The amateur world's a narrowing isthmus.
Commercialized to the point of Christmas.
So take me back to the days of Rice.
When sports had value beyond a price.
Football and track coach
Carmel High School
As a former Olympian representing the U.S. on the track in several European countries, I have some observations possibly worthy of consideration in answer to the question Where Are America's Milers? (SI, Aug. 27).
In Europe, colleges provide little or no track athletics, but track and field clubs for men and women of all walks of life provide any interested athlete the opportunity to race 20 to 40 times a season. Such clubs are far more numerous in Europe than are sandlot baseball teams in the U.S. Thus in Europe apparently a fairly high percentage of the track potential in the entire population is utilized. In the U.S., where track and field is confined almost entirely to high schools and colleges, and where little opportunity exists for the noncollege track athlete to compete, it seems only a small percentage of our nation's track potential is utilized.
Why do not our track athletes continue competition after college? Though many are willing, very few have the opportunity to do so with the degree of competition necessary to stimulate interest and develop world class distance running ability. Some few clubs such as the New York AC, N.Y. Pioneer Club, Los Angeles Striders, Chicago T. and F. Club, etc., have done excellent work in providing developmental competition for the noncollege athletes, although even these clubs are frequently composed of college athletes on vacation. Less than a dozen American clubs engage in regularly scheduled dual meets, and perhaps none schedule as many as 20 meets per season. With few clubs to join, and few if any races to run, how can an American distance runner continue competition to an age of athletic maturity and achieve record breaking performances on the track?
Most of the top distance runners in the world are noncollege athletes (Bannister and Landy are exceptions) who train three to five hours daily. Few Americans have the opportunity to spend so much time on amateur athletics.
In other words, when we give the American working man a chance to run track, we will have the answer to Where Are America's Milers?