LOCALE Quillvania, Greece
TIME circa 300 B.C.
ISSUE Renewed tenure for Quillvania's coach
CHARACTERS Burnatotle, a Philosopher; Millerpos, a Dental Extractor; Lorborstan, a Physician.
The discovery of the Quillvanian Dialogues, dredged up from the Aegean Sea by a young Greek mussel hunter who sold the amphora in which they were contained, unopened, to an Athenian antique dealer might have passed totally unnoticed in the flow of history were it not for the intellectual curiosity of Cecil J. Burnett, who recently brought the ancient papers to the attention of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. A former football player (left end, '30, '31, '32) for the university where he now teaches history of political philosophy and labor law, Mr. Burnett sensed in the Dialogues a significance which other scholars, who considered them merely a minor contribution to the philosophical literature of the period, had missed. To a man interested in sports (Mr. Burnett is a charter subscriber to this magazine) a parallel was obvious: the University of Pennsylvania, whose football team had gone through an agonizing three years of defeats (19 straight, a total of 23 losses in 27 games), was facing precisely the same dilemma as Quillvania had faced some 2,200 years before! In fact, Steve Sebo, the Pennsylvania coach, had become the object of such a storm of dispute—hangings in effigy, editorial blasts by the student newspaper, mass meetings and near riots (SI, Jan. 28, 1957)—that the dignity of the university was in serious jeopardy. Nor was the conflict entirely resolved when the university authorities, in adherence to noble Ivy League principles, refused to fire him and instead renewed his contract for three years. Harvard, the league's most hallowed institution, and obviously its Athens, queered that one thoroughly by firing its coach, Lloyd Jordan, who had turned in a 24-31-3 record over a seven-year period—the reason given was "poor teaching."
Thus it came about that Mr. Burnett, a whimsical and history-minded man, sent this manuscript to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. Awed by this evidence of the timeless nature of man's struggle with his moral self, the Editors can only add the following lines spoken not long ago by Fritz Crisler, the eminent athletic director of the University of Michigan (SI, Aug. 6, 1956): "We have discarded the principles on which college football was established.... We are applying professional tactics to educational ideals.... We are taking refuge in subterfuge and by some of our practices have created hypocrisy in some individuals and some institutions. We are nourishing a monster which can destroy us if we admit we are powerless to direct, resist or control it."
February 3, 1958
By Zeus, old Fritz was talking just like Burnatotle, the Philosopher.
THE PHILOSOPHER: The answer, dear practitioners of the honorable art of healing, is to be found in Aristotle's Politics. You venerable ex-Olympians have sorely missed the first law of social dynamics. In Book VII of the Politics Aristotle makes the wise observation that the precondition for social unity of the body politic, and the one responsible for its inner cohesion, is likeness-of-kind. He was convinced that any great discrepancy between members of a social organism makes a community impossible. A community exists only where there is a tacit agreement among its members concerning the ethical virtues which they desire to strive for or wish to preserve.
THE PHYSICIAN: But sir! A social organism! Virtue! Community! These are stunning generalities. This is the great age of Greek science. Science's province is the dimension of matter, detail, phenomena, causality or sequence. You are concerned with ethical vapors. I do not consider Aristotle's social thesis relevant to our discussion about the desirability of continued tenure for our Olympic coach. Athletics are a preparation for war, and at our Games the only human objective is victory. I grant that the gods may decree our constant losses to others of the Hellenic League; but, if the gods' determination does not operate, then human intelligence and art, the application of scientifically ascertained causes to predetermined ends, must cooperate with chance. We have not been wisely instructed to make the most of our divine opportunities. In a word, we are poorly coached.
THE PHILOSOPHER: Victory is not the ultimate goal in war. Reconciliation, peace, unity and understanding are the ultimate objectives. War is an admission of failure of civilized techniques for reconciling differences. What you are actually proposing, dear Doctor, is that if a city-state achieves victory in war it thereby transmits failure into success! Absurd! Evil means cannot produce a virtuous end. And the same applies to our Games.
THE DENTIST: The only issue is the competency of the coach. Our young men of Athens are not at fault. Before the employment of our present coach, Sebeso, we recruited the best athletes the coin of our realm could buy. We still recruit some of the most promising athletes from the mines of Macedonia, although many are now going south. But in my day we were instructed in fundamentals. I am not aware that this regimen is now being followed. The coach is offensively crazy. It is a multiple offense to our good citizens to achieve only four victories in 27 events at the Games against other league members. I say to you, the coach must go! If not, then the veteran Olympians will retire to the groves of the Academe. And, by the way, what virile qualities of manhood did Aristotle ever demonstrate?
THE PHYSICIAN: Dear Burnatotle, I apologize for the impetuous harangue of my companion. He participated in the Games many years ago when they were brutish and crude. Although he was puny of stature he became a legend in his lifetime because of his courage, guile and speed.
But, pray tell, dear sir, what possible relation is there between the observation of our beloved Aristotle and the retention of our present athletic coach? The only possible issue extant is the competency of the coach. Instead of the best evidence—his record—being the sole determinative factor, you smuggle into the discussion Aristotelian metaphysics. Our city is starving for victory; you pontificate and say, "Let them eat ideas!"
THE DENTIST: One moment! Unless the coach is dismissed I will advise other legendary figures to refuse to patronize the Games. Do you know that attendance has declined so rapidly of late that the ivy is encroaching on the spectators' seats?
THE PHILOSOPHER: Cruel is the strife among our brethren. Should truth abdicate before a show of angry passion? Verily I say unto you that good will should dispose passion to be guided by reason.
THE PHYSICIAN: Sir, my friend and I are not in the habit of having our intellectual integrity attacked. And I did not take the Hippocratic oath with reservations. May I press you again for Aristotle's relevancy?
THE PHILOSOPHER: The Hippocratic oath is not a tradesman's oath. The generality of its principles applies to our present crisis—and to you in the context of our discussion.
THE PHYSICIAN: Aristotle?
THE PHILOSOPHER: Both of you gentlemen are my esteemed friends of long and continued affection. Yet I feel constrained to point out, as is the case with so many of the young of the recent past, that you have been sorely deceived by the Sophists. You paid those teachers to instruct you in that which was useful. Yet nothing is more useless than pride. Pride in superiority of race is the great deterrent to a union of hearts, to community.
THE DENTIST: I am proud of my city and my citizenship!
THE PHILOSOPHER: The day is not far removed when this exclusiveness will be the fatal cause of Greece's downfall. The only salvation for Greece lies in a union of likeness-of-mind. The present parochialism, based as it is on likeness-of-kind, is not worthy of man.
THE DENTIST: Our city is immortal! There is wisdom in prejudice! Corporeal blood is more enduring than abstract reason.
THE PHYSICIAN: Aristotle? Please, sir.
THE PHILOSOPHER: The Hellenic League is more than a primitive collective. In a primitive collective, physical versatility and strength are the only credentials for leadership or, rather, for the exercise of command prerogatives. The athlete has the skill and the brute force to translate this potential into food, through hunting, and into security against outsiders by his forceful abilities. But such physical skills are not pre-eminent in the hierarchy of Hellenic League values. Rule by force is inconsistent with our collective character. Our pre-eminent qualities are civilized characteristics, that is, qualities of the mind. Antigone never hurled the discus.
THE DENTIST: Our Field will become a second-rate barnyard. There were more pigeons than people at the recent Games.
THE PHILOSOPHER: All cultures began in a manure pile. But one of the great mysteries of human life is how some cultures develop from a brutish relationship based upon fear, force, taboo and the occult to a humanistic standard of consent of willing subjects—or in a word, from tyranny to law. Pride in racial singularity must be extirpated before the rise of law. Your pride of physical domination of others is based on passion. Passion is irrational and thus inconsistent with a rule-of-law. Desire to dominate others is the strongest passion of all. As Aristotle says, "Law is reason unaffected by desire." Reason enjoins men to be reasonable, reasonable concerning their acquisitive drives. Except for the Hellenic League, contemporary athletics is a forlorn and shabby image of ancient acquisitive imperatives. Don't you understand that our benign environment no longer justifies the display of conspicuous athletic prowess?
THE DENTIST: Am I unreasonable because I abhor incompetence? The coach has got to go! This is the price of my continued support. My very earthy passion for our city's athletic supremacy transcends the esoteric principles of a thinking machine. Men were born to act—to act on the basis of blood. Because I am Hellenic I admit that the corollary of this provincial pride is contempt for the non-Hellenic. I am proud that I think about important issues with my blood. Our city arose out of a flux of primeval, undifferentiated protoplasm because of pride in racial superiority. Has this useful principle of racial superiority now become obsolete? Our city faces a lethal crisis. You have compounded the gravity of the crisis by expounding the theory of inclusiveness and cosmopolitanism. I am loyal to my inheritance, loyal to the organizing principle of our city, the primacy of matter, or blood. You prattle about a primacy of ideas that are dangerous abstractions. Never forget that we were citizens before we were men. As citizens our first duty is to our city. My duty does not extend beyond the city, and my relationship to my fellow citizens is nurtured by passion!
THE PHILOSOPHER: Homer observed that singularity of passion and its kindred ally, desire, is the rule, and that reason, which should embrace all men, is the exception.
THE DENTIST: Athenian athletic administrators are indeed exceptional. They fail to recognize incompetence when they see it. You philosophers talk about justice but you never have to make a judgment.
THE PHYSICIAN: The subtlety of your argument intrigues me, sir. I would not be surprised if you were to conclude that there is a causal relationship between the decision about our coach and our status in the Hellenic League. It is axiomatic that we desire no alienation from our traditional rivals at the Games. Our minimum demand is that our youth be properly instructed. You, sir, would be stretching my credulity in the nature of things if you were to conclude that the price we must pay for continued association with our equals in the league is the indefinite retention of a coach whose teaching potential is nil.
THE PHILOSOPHER: The ends of dialectic discourse are now being realized. You are discovering truth through the technique of opposition. The truth is that loyalty to the Hellenic League is loyalty to law. The sole issue is survival of law. Before our league was organized athletic relations between Greek city-states were guided by deceit or legislated by force. This was an example of the application of brutish means for ignoble ends. Brutes are prior in time, but law and the state are prior by logic or nature. Under the rational influence of law, said Aristotle, the irrational forces of life are submerged. When law becomes the rule and not the exception it may very well happen that men will then understand the rational principle of the world—God.
THE PHYSICIAN: I wonder if Aristotle's metaphysical logic has any application to the very pedestrian problems of the Games. I must concede that my profession is indebted to Aristotle for the classification of differences in kind, that is, the biological distinctions between genus and species. Do you mean to suggest that such principles of biological classification apply to human collectives, of which the Hellenic League is one?
THE PHILOSOPHER: Aristotle was sympathetic to the idea that the concept of morphological development applies to association of human beings. The adult morphological phase corresponds with the human community ruled by law. The larval phase of existence is the primitive collective. But form is inherent in the potentiality of matter. A human community ruled by law is the final actualization of form and matter. Now realize that such evolution is neither instinctive nor automatic. All we can say now is that the gods have not seen fit to distribute reasonableness in the universal way that makes law possible. In fact the gods have been very unreasonable in the allocation of reason. Thus the oracle says: "Only the collegium of the Hellenic League are possessed of reason."
THE DENTIST: I shall ignore your appeal to my racial pride, which pride a few moments ago was thought to be a barbarian virtue. But I cannot ignore the fact that our coach received his training at the hands of the barbarians. He is not himself a true member of our league by either birth or naturalization. Ergo, he must be without reason and he must be succeeded by one from our city.
THE PHYSICIAN: The scribes report that our community leader has consulted the gods concerning the coach's competence to instruct our young athletes. These scribes report a favorable divination for the coach. This is most regrettable. Even minor community leaders are polling the sentiment of the athletes. There are reports from unimpeachable sources that the athletes themselves have invoked black grace against the coach. Thus the veterans and the currently concerned athletes are in direct opposition to the administration respecting continued tenure for the coach.
THE DENTIST: If the coach is retained under those anarchical conditions, we face two serious problems. One, we will have difficulty in securing the services of recruits for the next three years. Proselytizing, even by our own league associates, will be made simple because they can now deter a youngster from competing for us by referring to the current athletes' lack of confidence in our coach. Secondly, the sacrifice needed by our current athletes next year will be undermined by their own expressed rejection of their coach.
THE PHILOSOPHER: Socrates could not serve two masters. Socrates did not depend on a poll, nor does truth depend upon the majority. His only crime was that he asked important questions. It is strange that our administrator's courage to defer to the opinion of others is not equaled by the courage to act upon such opinion.
You trained professional men know only the answers to questions. Most of you are delinquent in the knowledge of what social questions are important. To your kind, nothing is important that depends for its understanding on history, or on social relationships not expressed in quantitative terms My discourse with you today is nothing more than an investigation into the nonquantitative, hence unscientific, field of human relations. And remember that relationship is the mother of categories. Humanity's science will increase to the degree that quantitative analysis expands. Science and mathematics are thus correlated. As our science increases, its practical application will mean a high standard of consumer living. But envy will be the byproduct of better consumer living. Then the problem of human relations will really become serious. Cultures and even civilizations will be destroyed because of calculated indifference to the real question—human relations. As quantitative measurement, then applied science, then a higher standard of consumer living increase arithmetically, there will be a corresponding geometric retrogression of concern to the problem of relationship.
THE DENTIST: My friend and I intercepted you in your walk today to inquire of your judgment concerning the coach's competency. It was simply a question, such as asking of you the time of day. It seems to me that you answer such a simple question by examining the relationship between yonder sun dial and the transit of celestial bodies. I feel abused.
THE PHYSICIAN: How can an understanding of Aristotle help in this dilemma?
THE PHILOSOPHER: I was stressing the obvious when I pointed out the natural superiority of the members of our league—only the Greeks are inclined toward reason. And our citizens, of all the Greeks, are possessed of the most aptitude for the life of reason. Some of our league members have more sophistication than the civilizing attributes of reason. Isn't it odd that some mechanical cultures evolve from barbarism to sophistication when the rule is barbarism, civilization, sophistication and then decadence?
THE PHYSICIAN: Aristotle?
THE PHILOSOPHER: We have now established that only the members of our league show an aptitude for reason. Therefore our league is a community of equals. Just as the carpenter exists for the building, so our league members exist for reason. We are the chosen people. Our mathematics, geometry, medicine, philosophy, jurisprudence, art and science attest to this.
Now Aristotle's political genius lay in the fact that he understood that unequals could only function together when ordered to do so by force, threat of force, or deceit.
Aristotle understood the fatal weakness of Plato's benign dictatorship. Plato tried to combine together the necessary unequals needed to produce goods with the equals needed to produce community. Thus he was dealing with two absolutes. Generations of men yet unborn will repeat sadly this fatal error. Dictatorships born of the twin passion for more goods and an equality of social rank soon discover that they cannot combine fruitfully these two mutually incompatible objectives. Human nature being what it is, men make the inevitable choice of the production of goods, with the necessary inequality of rank and the sacrifice of social equality.
THE PHYSICIAN: Isn't the importance of the desire for social equality being overstressed?
THE PHILOSOPHER: It is not being overstressed! It is the most universal human drive, second only to food. Its most universal form is the passion for common worship. Both of these fundamental human drives, food and common worship, are the consequences of man's nature: he is mortal. Man's instinctive awareness of death stimulates the drive for food with the resultant economic and social inequality needed to produce such food. But the common fate, or perfect equality of mortality for all, leads to a drive for a joint enterprise to buttress the spirit to face the uncertainty of the inevitable but unknown. Thus common worship.
THE PHYSICIAN: Are you saying that the death instinct is responsible for the demand for democratic equality for unequals?
THE PHILOSOPHER: Precisely! And the life instinct, or rather the passion for goods or food, is responsible for the group imperialism of the few. That is to say that awareness of death leads to a drive for homogeneous arrangements among human beings, whereas the necessity for consumption in life necessitates heterogeneous arrangements. In the former, or homogeneous arrangement, everyone counts as one; in a heterogeneous arrangement some are more unequal than others. A graveyard is a vast panorama of equality, but the production of the substance of life requires an organic relationship. Whereas the thought of death leads to attempts to impose equality in life, a high-level-consumption orientation requires leading parts and subordinate parts. Thus, the resultant inequality of the life instinct opposes the obvious equality of the death instinct.
THE PHYSICIAN: Then it would follow that there can be no genuine community where there is a base passion for either goods, life, dominations or powers.
THE PHILOSOPHER: More appropriately, there can be no community where aggressive instincts dominate the relationship between those who are otherwise equal to each other. Those who are equal to each other and to reason may only be aggressive against ignorance. And if equals are mixed with unequals then the superior equals must dominate the inferior unequals. But this is bad both for the masterly equals and the slavish unequals. The equals would then be corrupted by power and the slaves would eventually vegetate because they would actually enjoy their servility which is nothing more than cultivation of the habit of nonresponsibility. Nonresponsibility is the ineradicable birthmark of the slave.
THE DENTIST: But what about the coach?
THE PHILOSOPHER: The thread on which are strung the beads of understanding of our league is that it is a union of nonaggressive equals. Nonaggressiveness is our virtue shared in common by league members. 'Tis said by the cynic that these nonaggressive ones, the meek, will inherit the next life, but here and now they build community. These genuine elite appeal to patience, proceed by means of persuasion and thus reach goals indirectly. The aggressive proceed directly. Thus the aggressive unequals are mental athletes.
In a collective of equals and unequals there must be either total control or total chaos. Plato's Republic is thus the one alternative based upon the radical distribution of reason. He chose total control. But Aristotle dismissed the alternatives of total chaos by denying the premise. All those who are equal to each other in virtue by way of prudence and reason must join with each other to form a more perfect union. This union of discriminating equals is more consistent with human dignity and more consonant with nature than Platonic servitude to a master. Plato confused the hierarchical importance of the number one with the functional equality of all numbers. It is absurd to believe that any number has more utility than another. Aristotle would unify the even numbers; and the odd numbers would be slaves.
THE PHYSICIAN: Plato, Aristotle, chaos....
THE PHILOSOPHER: In this union or league of likeness of mind and heart, there is present the opportunity to exploit further the higher realms of reason unimpeded by laggard unequals. The Hellenic League of superior equals is thus our salvation. Our salvation will be found in the higher realms of research and will result in a progressive increase in the scientific and moral distance between ourselves and the barbarians. The more often our members consort with those unequal to ourselves the more the quantitative mass imperils with its contagion of mediocrity the qualitative elite. Contagion of our league by the barbarians from without will be an irremedial injury to all those in the world who seek the good life. Because members of our league must continually practice the youngest of virtues, integrity, we cannot afford to jeopardize confidence in our fellow league members by what may be construed by them to be an aggressive act. We have made a declaration of honorable intent to other league members. We must act consistently with that intent. Cultural leadership and our league-must be indivisible. The coach must be retained in order to serve a higher end.
THE PHYSICIAN: Your idealization of the league intrigues me. Do I understand you, sir, to believe that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts?
THE PHILOSOPHER: Yes. I support the implication that the Hellenic League is greater than the sum of the individual members of the league. Every true community is a product of the moral impulses of the honored dead, the suffering quick, and the abode of prospective justice for generations yet unborn.
THE DENTIST: The statement is patently false! The league is nothing more than the sum of its eight members.
THE PHILOSOPHER: Arithmetically, yes! But Aristotle is concerned with human aspirations and values, with harmony and concord. In the context of our discussion I am concerned with human values, that is, the quality of relationship that transcends the baser commercial instincts measurable only by quantitative arithmetic symbols. By asserting that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, I confess that I go beyond the physical, that is, I proceed metaphysically. Recall that Antigone's protest against her fellow citizens' vengeance on her dead traitorous brother was an appeal to a natural law, metaphysical in content, which law, she believed, prohibited revenge against a corpse. Such natural law, the basis of her appeal, defines the conditions that are fundamentally human. Only the qualitative elite, purged of aggressiveness—in a word, those of our league—are able to define that which is distinctly human. This new standard will thus elevate men and inspire them. Our league standard will be an iridescent and shining goal for all men. Ergo, the purification of athletics. Teach by precept and example.
THE DENTIST: When a tooth aches I extract it. In return for my fee a service is rendered. Equity is thus served. As I see it, my sole obligation is to render competent service to my patients. Reciprocally they owe me hard coin for my services. Our relationship stops there. If unskilled, I do not warrant my patients' trust. I judge our coach by the same standard that I am judged. We both hold a position of trust. If he fails to extract the skill potential from his material then he should not expect continuation of tenure or trust. His personal qualities as a gentleman are as irrelevant vis-√†-vis his position as the editorializing of a barber is to his competency as a barber. Nothing is as obvious as the fact that four victories in 27 outings equals humiliation for ourselves. Reason does not predicate our continued humiliation in the league as the price of our so-called spiritual association with seven other equals. If league members are equal in several important respects, namely, reason and spiritual guidance, then we should be equal in all respects, especially success in athletic endeavors. But we have endured all the sacrifice. Inequality of sacrifice does more to upset individual and collective equilibrium than aggressiveness. Athletics is a preparation for war and in both there is no substitute for victory. The opportunity for organized ideas is only supported and nurtured by organized force. Athletics supports this enduring condition of mankind and should not be subverted by organized ideas such as yours.
THE PHILOSOPHER: Only the doctrinaire democrat believes that those who are equal in one respect are equal in all respects. It is enough that our league members be equal in virtue. The purpose of the league is not to stimulate a program of athletic imperialism in each constituent member institution but rather to provide an anodyne for pernicious athletic excesses. The league must show by exemplary conduct to other cities the natural place of athletics. Athletics should be a means to a wholesome and healthful end, not an end in itself. If athletics becomes an end in itself than the obviously intelligent means toward that end is professionalization. Professional means then predicate success as an end. When this is so a premium is placed on aggressiveness, self-interest, and aggrandizement of the ego: ergo, self-restraint expires along with community. If the natural elite can achieve community, then the inequality of sacrifice is a small price to pay for such large spiritual dividends.
THE DENTIST: Natural! Natural! Natural! This concept is used to nail down the self-interest of every state and individual. The surest way to erect an iron curtain between individuals or groups is for each individual or group to insist with dogmatic finality that their values are supported by the credentials of the natural. It is little wonder that the Sophists exclaim in weariness and despair that "one thing is as natural as another and that use and desire are lord of all."
THE PHILOSOPHER: Mother of Mercy and Father of Agony! The Sophists have done their job exceedingly well!
THE PHYSICIAN: But, sir, I too have heard a good deal of talk concerning what is natural. Some argue that democracy or aristocracy is natural, others that monarchy or aristocracy is natural. Our merchants are of the opinion that the only natural price is the free interaction of supply and demand. In fact, the merchants are decidedly in opposition to government interference with the price mechanism. They fear that we are doomed if there is artificial interference with the natural laws of supply and demand.
THE PHILOSOPHER: The natural is an ordinance of reason defining that which is fundamental for the common good. We must depend for an approximation of the natural by relying upon those who have the sharpest reason and the keenest sense of the common good. Do you still not understand our mission? In the absence of divine revelation the natural must have an anthropomorphic basis.
Now the ancients tell us that a Savior is coming to reveal the natural and save humanity. He is sorely needed to lead men on the paths of righteousness. Until this Savior arrives humanity must depend upon the Aristotelian principle already enunciated—likeness-of-kind of a select minority. Lacking divine inspiration we must rely upon constitutionalized communities such as our league to approximate the natural. If we change our coach our league associates can only conclude that, benighted, we have returned to barbarism and forsaken a cherished association of equals for shabby singularity. We have our choice of rejecting the Hellenic League or clinging to it. The surest way to destroy a community of equals is for one of the members to strain to prove superiority.
THE PHYSICIAN: I find it difficult to believe that the dire consequences you allude to will follow the discharge of our coach.
THE PHILOSOPHER: A community of equals does not function automatically. All members must subordinate their will in order to nurture mutual trust in each other's motives. What will Athens think if our city should discharge our coach? Our coach is sympathetic to the league's ideals, he is an organization man. He has subordinated himself to the larger purpose of the league.
THE DENTIST: He has the singular talent, approaching genius, for organizing defeat, chaos, factionalism and complete mediocrity.
THE PHYSICIAN: Is our city an athletic and cultural satellite of Athens?
THE PHILOSOPHER: Athens alone has provided the Greek world with the inspiration to achieve the true and the good. She provided the hegemony to defeat the Asiatic hordes of Darius and Xerxes, cultivated the arts and sciences and established constitutional government.
THE DENTIST: Behold! The runner brings the latest news from Athens.
THE RUNNER: Sirs, when I left Athens yesterday there was dancing in the streets and much revelry. Upon inquiry I discovered that the reason for the merriment was that Jordanos, the Athenian coach, had been summarily discharged. Athenians now look forward to athletic domination of the Hellenic League. It seems that the coach was accused of using the wrong system. His system was thought to be an exercise of poor judgment in view of the potential of his athletes.
THE PHILOSOPHER: Oh, dear!
THE PHYSICIAN: This is a tragedy!
THE PHILOSOPHER: A tragedy, yes. Incalculable harm will now ensue.
THE PHYSICIAN: Dear sir, no! The consequence of harm to the league is not the tragedy. As Sophocles has said, "A tragedy is a theory killed by a fact." Your beautiful theory is quite dead. That is the tragedy!
THE RUNNER: As I was passing our own city's agora I was informed that our coach has been retained for a new three-year term. It seems that there was a very prevalent feeling that if we discharged our coach this would be considered to be offensive to Athens and others and would result in our alienation from the league. The philosophers, it seems, had convinced our own city's elders that....
THE DENTIST: Yah, we know all that. Put it to the music of the lyre and we'll call it Requiem for a Philosopher.
MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE 20TH CENTURY...
Steve Sebo, still at Perm, last season won three, lost six games.
Lloyd Jordan, fired by Harvard, has retired from football.
Author Burnett, drawing no moral, adds a comment (right):
"Any similarity in this story to contemporary issues is not coincidental nor necessarily forced. In an age which is characterized by the increasing power of social, political and economic organizations, gentle satire is the only weapon left to a disarmed humanist."