During its two-year running preview of the Olympics leading up to the Games which begin this week in Melbourne, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has had more than one occasion to present the Olympic ideal as it has appeared to the many and different people devoted to it.
When Avery Brundage discussed it with Robert Creamer (SI, Feb. 6) he said:
"My first allegiance is to a principle—the principle of the Olympic movement as stated by the Baron de Coubertin 60 years ago. It is simply this: that sport, in addition to building strong and healthy bodies and developing a man's character—his self-control, poise, perseverance and so on—has definite moral virtue. Fair play and good sportsmanship are an integral part of sport, and what are they? They're no more nor less than an expression of the Golden Rule. Sport, in other words, is a valuable and desirable part of life."
With this definition of the Olympic ideal SPORTS ILLUSTRATED agrees. And it came naturally to mind when one of our frequent contributors, Sparse Grey Hackle, wrote us about the American Olympic Canoe Trials, which he attended in September.
November 26, 1956
"The highlight of the trials was Dave Merwin of Canton, Ohio, who in an old racing canoe had trained alone all summer without coaching. Although beautiful examples of woodworking skill, canoes quickly lose their speed with age; and Merwin's was seven years old. But for the trials he did what others did—put his canoe atop his car and proceeded at his own expense to Lake Sebago, N.Y.
"His competitors of course immediately gathered round to look him over. With head-shaking sympathy they quickly condemned his canoe.
" 'No chance with that scow,' one said. 'My partner and I got a new boat from Sweden three weeks ago. You'd better use that.'
"Merwin did and placed second at 10,000 meters. Then the next day, in the same canoe, he roared through the 1,000 meters and made the team.
" 'Now you'll need a good boat to train in,' the lender said. 'Keep it until we go to Australia.' "
The story seems to underline the strength and lasting vitality of the Olympic ideal.