JUST BEFORE THEBATTLE
In Melbourne itwas difficult to realize that world tension had threatened, only a fortnightago, to turn the 1956 Olympic Games into a bitter burlesque. Athletes from 68competing nations were on hand, the protests of dissidents were stilled, andthe sports-intoxicated continent of Australia awaited the opening of the Gameswith a pride and an excitement which were irresistible. Both wild anticipationand awful suspense were combined in the news from down under, but the newsitself was straight off the performance track: the U.S. team was demonstratingrunaway speed in pre-Games meets, and World-record Miler John Landy, after ayear of preparation, seemed hardly able to run at all.
Ten thousandAussies jammed into the little town of Bendigo (probably the only municipalityin the world named for a bare-knuckle prize fighter) to watch the Americansperform; a good many of them left in genuine awe. The track—of grass on acinder base—was obviously fast, and almost every event resembled a rocketlaunching. Five Australian records fell. California's Leamon King equaled theworld record of 9.3 in the 100; Bobby Morrow raced a 220 in 20.9; Parry O'Brientossed the shot 60 feet 8‚Öù inches, and Charley Dumas loafed over the high jumpat 6 feet 9 inches. Half-miler Tom Courtney switched to the quarter for fun andran 47.3.
November 26, 1956
Californian JackDavis—though the track slanted uphill for a bit before sloping down again—racedover the 120-yard high hurdles in 13.3 to crack his own world record.
The heartbreakingtrials and tribulations of John Landy were much more difficult to assess.Though no man has yet touched his world record of 3:58 in the mile, he has beentwice beaten in four-minute miles—by Roger Bannister and Jim Bailey. For a yearhe has hoped to perform a supreme act of self-justification in the Olympics.But until recently he has suffered from inflamed tendons in both legs, and lastweek, when he ran a trial two-mile in a night meet at Geelong, he failed badly.A crowd of 20,000 uttered a long "a-a-a-a-h" of relief as he tried tomove up in the fourth lap, then sat, despondent, as he fell back again, facedistorted and his rhythm faulty, to finish 11th in a field of 13. "I wasfrozen from the ankles up," he muttered afterward. But he felt no pain thefollowing day and, after a workout, announced that he was "fit andhappy."
Australia (andall the world) could only wait and hope that Landy—perhaps the most dramaticsingle figure in the Games—would finally surmount his troubles. The Aussieswere able, however, to enjoy one moment of national satisfaction last weekafter three Germans, lately arrived to see the Games, complained they could notget tickets. Since the Germans had paddled 15,000 miles in a canoe to get toAustralia, tickets were duly obtained for them.
TALL CORN DAY INIOWA
Iowa is asmall-town state whose good people find a Big Ten football game an excellentoccasion to whoop and holler a week's orneriness away. Compound this fact ofmidwestern life with the appetite Iowa fans acquired in 34 years without a BigTen title (and no trip to the Rose Bowl) and you have the makings of anearthquake in the normally calm corn-and-hog belt. Last Saturday in Iowa Citywhen Iowa's overlooked football team upset Ohio State (see page 29), therebywinning themselves a Rose Bowl trip and a share of the Big Ten championship,the rumble and roar was considerable.
The pandemonium,which was to prevail all weekend, began even before the game was over, whenhundreds of fans poured onto the field only to find Ohio State players on theirown 3-yard line and still interested in trying one more desperate play.Referees finally cleared the field, the game ended, and the madness officiallybegan.
Several score BoyScouts, whose assigned task was to keep the crowd of 57,732 off the field, fledbefore the onrush of fans. Iowa's 110-piece marching band paraded riotously;fireworks exploded, and in Elvis Presley-fan fashion an Iowa coed screamed to aduty-bent policeman:
"Let me touchKenny!" This, of course, would be Kenny Ploen, a grimy-faced senior fromClinton, Iowa who threw the winning pass.
Then, whilehundreds of fans chanted the Song of the Volga Boatmen, sturdy sons of Iowatugged on cables thrown over the crossbars and heaved and strained until theyhad dismantled the goalposts, which were of steel set in concrete.
With a burst ofimagination, one student hurried to the Rock Island Railroad station and askedhow much to rent a boxcar to Pasadena. More or less seriously, he was quoted aprice of $1,000, with room for 30 persons on a bring-your-own-blanketbasis.
That night, at avictory celebration in the Iowa Memorial Union, Harvey Davis, universityprovost, solemnly advised 2,000 cheering students that there would be twoadditional days of Christmas vacation this year.
"An excellentvictory deserves one day," he said in measured academic voice, "and anextraordinary one deserves two."
"You may havemissed it because U.S. newspapers (even those in his old home town of Chicago)seem to have overlooked the story, but Leo Schaeffer, proprietor of the oldestestablished permanent floating football pool in North America, and four of hisassociates pleaded guilty last week to a charge (SI, Nov. 12) of running abetting house in Winnipeg.
Altogether it wasan embarrassing experience for a man of Leo's reputation. The sentence was 10months in jail or a $10,000 fine for each of the five men—and among them theyhad only $30,000 with them. Most of this, moreover, was in U.S. currency, sothey had to ante up an additional $500 to make up the exchange difference whichcurrently favors the Canadian over the American dollar.
The Winnipegmagistrate had the last word. "This gambling was on a very largescale," he said. "It's something that has to be discouraged."
Wes Santee'sarticle of confession in a recent issue of LIFE—in which he openly revealed,just as the 1956 Olympic Games were about to begin in Australia, the sums ofexcess expense money he had accepted for running the mile in various trackmeets during his somewhat tainted amateur career—served to swing the spotlightmomentarily back on a lonely young man who, if he had conducted himselfotherwise, might well have been the favorite in the classic Olympic 1,500-meterrun.
Santee is, ofcourse, an athletic tragedy, a man cut down by legality in the prime of hiscareer. He is bitter about it and (human nature being what it is) lays abouthim with angry words. He names names of track meet promoters and lists largesums of money he says they paid him—which makes them as guilty of violating theamateur code as he was.
But the realtragedy of the whole situation seems to lie in the fact that nowhere in hispublic confession does Santee give any impression whatever that he feels he didanything wrong in accepting money to run, even though he was competing,ostensibly, as an amateur in what were, ostensibly, amateur track meets. Hedoes not seem disturbed by the betrayal of the amateur idea by those who paidhim while supposedly upholding amateurism. Rather, he seems to accuse them, andindeed the AAU itself, of sham and hypocrisy in making it so difficult for himto receive just payment for his labors. Santee, in other words, appears not asa compromised amateur but as a frustrated professional with a thoroughlyprofessional attitude: competing as a topflight runner is hard work and shouldbe paid for.
All this bringsto mind the words of Dr. Harvie Branscomb, Chancellor of Vanderbilt University,who was quoted here two weeks ago on the subjects of amateurism andsportsmanship.
"Sportsmanship means basic moral character," said Dr. Branscomb."The Code of Sportsmanship [is not] a set of moral maxims...but a part ofthe happy injunction to 'play the game.' ...We have all heard and said muchabout the dangers of commercialism in amateur sport, and they are real. Insteadof the game, the money becomes the chief thing and one plays not for fun,friendship and glory but for the publicity and the signed offer.... We cannothave amateur players and commercial management. The institutions which sponsorour athletics will have to be challenged to remain amateur also."
In recent,prosperous years the goldfish has gone the way of the hand-rolled cigaret andthe windup phonograph—something fancier and higher-priced has just about takenover the field. Tropical fish, in limitless varieties and shapes and colors,now dominate the country's living-room aquariums. But when vacation time comes,and the family ponders the fish problem and decides it would be more humane topour the poor creatures into the nearest lake than to let them starve in thetank, guess who survives? If anybody does, it's the goldfish.
Take Upper EchoLake, near Mountainside, N.J. Two years ago the New Jersey Fish and GameCommission stocked the lake with largemouth bass. This fall, curious to see howthe bass were doing, game biologists lowered the water level and had a look.The bass were there, all right, and had grown from fingerlings to handsomespecimens of 13½ inches. But the real owners of the lake were the goldfish. Andthey weren't the tiny, fragile creatures that had glittered in Mountainsideaquariums; they were a foot long and weighed a pound.
The curious thingwas they were all a foot long and weighed a pound. There were no youngfish—only full-grown ones. One possible explanation is that the goldfish,following the mysterious habit of their relatives the carp, just decided not tospawn for a few seasons.
On the other handthe answer may be found in the stomachs of the large-mouth bass. Game fish findgoldfish irresistible. In fact, New Jersey law forbids the use of a goldfish asbait on the ground that it is absolutely surefire; no game fish can refuse one.So it may be that the bass, having grown large enough to eat all the littlegoldfish, had done so; and after that were just waiting around till they werebig enough to eat the grown ones.
Who would havewon this battle for survival nobody will ever know, for the Fish and Gamebiologists stepped in and stopped the fight. They put a notice in the localpapers asking people please not to put any more goldfish in Upper Echo Lake.Then they drained off most of the water, removing the bass as they did so. Whathappened next suggests that if the struggle had been allowed to continue, thesmart money would have been on the goldfish. They survived the drain-off bytaking refuge in potholes, and finally had to be dispatched with Rotenone—threetimes the normal dose. The total haul for the nine-acre lake was 800 glitteringpounds.
In Detroit lastweek a 16-man subcommittee of the National Collegiate Athletic Associationimposed a number of stern new penalties for recruiting excesses.
North CarolinaState was suspended from championship play (including bowl games) for fouryears.
Ohio State andthe University of Southern California drew penalties stronger than thosealready imposed by their conferences; sanctions now include all athletic teamsat the two schools, not just the football teams.
Texas A&M andthe University of Miami, who had asked good-conduct paroles from two-yearprobationary sentences they are already serving, were turned down.
Miami andA&M—who had been hoping for reprieves that would let them play in bowlgames—took out their feelings on the week's opponents. A&M whacked Rice21-7, and Miami clouted hitherto unbeaten Clemson with a firm 21-0.
Otherwise, thechief reactions from the penalized colleges were such questions as "Who,me?" and "Why?"
Unfortunately,the procedures of the NCAA in such cases remarkably resemble the procedures ofVenice's venerable Council of Ten. Like the Doges, the NCAA displays, nowadays,an unblinking interest in law enforcement but seems reluctant to publish theevidence, in testimony or affidavits, which leads to its verdicts. Until itdoes, penalized colleges are perfectly entitled to exclaim, "Who, me?"And the public is entitled to wonder.
A Dallaswrestling promoter named Ed McLemore faces a damage suit of $54,600 because ofthe result of a chain of events that started when he allegedly called awrestler "mean, villainous, hard-hearted, merciless, cruel, cheating,sneaky, unsportsmanlike and cowardly."
A citizen namedJ. W. Whitaker, who filed the suit, claims that those unkind words about awrestler aroused the fans to a high emotional pitch, caused them to "hatethe wrestler," and resulted in a flying bottle, aimed at said wrestler,glancing off his own head, giving him a skull fracture.
McLemore deniedhe billed a wrestler as such a despicable character, and said he certainly wasnever sued for slander by any wrestler. But what's worrying McLemore, alongwith the suit, is the identity of the wrestler. The incident happened in thespring of 1953, he says, and his records of the show burned up a short timelater.
He'd like to knowthe fellow's name. Anyone who can stir up so much furor might be worth bringingback. Mean, villainous, hard-hearted, merciless, cruel, cheating, sneaky,unsportsmanlike, cowardly wrestlers will apply in Dallas for steadyemployment.
The most avidlyfollowed short radio program in New Mexico during the hunting season is athrice-daily outdoor commentary by Frank Joyce over Station KOB in Albuquerque.The thing that makes Joyce's Coors Calling show outstanding (Coors is the nameof the beer sponsor) is the unique service it offers. The five-minute programshave become a clearing house for emergency messages for hunters, whoreligiously tune Joyce in—via car radios and portables—just before sunup, atnoon and again just after sundown. Messages range from reports of death orsickness in the family to a recent message to a Santa Fe man urging him toreturn home because "your wife just called and said you forgot yourtent."
OccasionallyJoyce is asked to get word to an atomic physicist to return to Los Alamos or toa high-ranking military man to report to his service installation. Whenclassified information is involved, Joyce says something in innocuous doubletalk, such as, "I'm trying to locate a John Jones from Los Alamos, huntingwith a party in the Gila Wilderness. If anybody sees him, tell him to get intouch with Harry."
The other day heoffered his sympathy to four hunters in the Pecos area because they were goingto have a long walk ahead of them. Their poorly tethered horses had brokenloose and returned home, Joyce had been informed.
"Sorry youhave to walk," said Joyce, "but at least you won't have to waste a lotof time looking for the horses."
Along with themessages, Joyce gives a staccato rundown on weather and hunting conditions, areport on hunting casualties coupled with a stern warning to be more careful("You guys have just got to learn to carry your guns right") and tapedinterviews with hunters in the field.
But the messageservice is unquestionably the most appealing part of the program. Think, forinstance, of all the New Mexicans who glowed with vicarious parental pride lastyear when Joyce broadcast a message to a hunter in the Jemez Mountains to hurryhome because his wife had just had her baby.
"Don't youget to worrying and drive too fast," warned the folksy Joyce. "She'sjust fine, and so is your new daughter."
Let's allconsider Potter's case:
His wife, not thinking, trumped his ace,
CURRENT WEEK & WHAT'S AHEAD
•RSVP to the U.S.S.R.
AAU officials in Melbourne accepted a Russian invitation for American athletesto compete in a huge track meet in Moscow next July. A home-and-homearrangement would bring Russians to U.S. (Los Angeles or New York) in 1958.Chief condition: removal of requirement that visitors to U.S. befingerprinted.
•Off and On Again, but Not Gone Again
Switzerland, reconsidering its withdrawal from Olympics, could find no airtransport left for team of 65. Swiss appeal for a U.S. Air Force airlift seemedunlikely to succeed since the U.S.'s own Olympians had to raise their ownfunds, pay fares on commercial planes.
•Cheer in Seattle, Gloom In Detroit
The racing commission of the American Power Boat Association held a secondhearing and voted a second time for Seattle's Miss Thriftway as winner overDetroit's Miss Pepsi in the bitterly disputed 1956 Gold Cup race. A motion isstill before Michigan courts to call the whole race "no contest."
Public notice in the New York Heraid Tribune following Yale's 42-20 victoryover Princeton last Saturday; reprinted in its entirety.