BASKETBALL: NOT-SO-MAD HATTER
In your January 11th issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Jeremiah Tax did a fine story on Jerry Lucas, the outstanding sophomore from Ohio State.
He also listed a number of other sophomore standouts in the collegiate ranks. I noticed that he had left out a talented sophomore, Terry Dischinger of Purdue.
Although a 6-foot-6½ center-forward, Terry handles himself like a 6-foot guard. He is better than average on defense and is aggressive enough to score many of his baskets after following up his own shots.
If the match between Lucas and "Big Dish" in the Ohio State-Purdue game doesn't prove Terry's tremendous all-round ability, then I will eat the hat I am throwing in the ring as Terry's nomination for rookie of the year.
West Lafayette, Ind.
February 1, 1960
•See page 4.—ED.
WHAT DISTANCE RUNNING TAKES
It has been my pleasure and good fortune to coach Bill Dellinger, a national mile and two-mile champion; Ken Reiser, a national champion in the two-mile and steeplechase runs; Jim Bailey, a national mile champion; Jim Grelle, a national mile champion; and Dyrol Burleson, who might be the best of all. Other than Jim Bailey, from Australia, these young men are all from Oregon. I feel that your readers might be interested not only in the controversy of whether or not foreign students of physical maturity should compete in U.S. collegiate competition (EVENTS & DISCOVERIES, Dec. 7 and Jan. 18) but also in the reasons why U.S. runners have not competed successfully with those from European countries.
In the Olympic Games of the past 30 years, the U.S. produced only two men capable of competing favorably with "world class" distance runners. In 1932 Ralph Hill, age 23, and one year out of the University of Oregon, ran almost a dead heat with the winner in the 5,000 meters. Twenty years later in Helsinki, Horace Ashenfelter, age 29, and three years out of Penn State, won the gold medal in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. No affront is intended to the many American runners who had almost reached physical maturity when they hung up their spikes.
In the rich tradition of competition and athletics in the United States, we have produced numerous medal winners in the sprints, hurdles, jumps and throws. If, as has been established fairly well by the record, there are more good coaches in colleges and high schools in this country than in the rest of the world, why do we not measure up in the runs?
Until very recently, it was the opinion of many parents that races as long as a half mile or a mile might cause physical injury. Dr. Ernst Jokl, University of Kentucky, and several others, have established that there are only two reasons for not practicing or competing in any physical activity, whether it be running, football, or any of the multitude of sports: 1) a physical defect with which a person is born; 2) any kind of infection.
In the past 10 years, youngsters in grade school and high school have taken to cross-country by the thousands. The result can be seen in the phenomenal schoolboy mile times that are turned in.
Is this bad for their hearts? A study of the comparative longevity of milers and football players reveals that the runners outlive the football players by 11 years. The study further shows that all of the milers lived beyond 55 but one, who was run over by a train. Only one died of a heart attack, and not until the age of 88.
If statistics mean anything, the real reason our runners have not competed on an equal basis with those outside the United States is that they are too young. In 1959 the average age of the top 25 European milers and three-milers was 29 years. The average age of the top 25 U.S. milers and three milers is 22 years.
Our best runners have found it almost impossible to continue competing after graduation from their universities. A runner who goes into teaching and coaches is barred from amateur competition. (An amendment to this rule was proposed at the December 1959 AAU meeting and turned down.)
It is "unfashionable" for young men in business to continue serious competition and training. A very few of our so-called athletic clubs encourage representation by their members. At one time, it was the practice of athletic clubs to be represented in most fields of athletic endeavor, and to award a life membership to an individual or team champion.
As Brutus Hamilton, University of California, and Olympic Track Coach 1952, said to Jim Kelley, University of Minnesota, and Olympic Track Coach 1956, "When the Bill Dellingers of Oregon and Max Truexes of Southern Cal continue in competition until they are 30, then we will do as well in the runs as in the rest of track and field."
W. J. (BILL) BOWERMAN
President, National Collegiate Track Coaches Association
THE SWEDISH BASKETBALL TEAM
The Swedish basketball team accomplished something that many other foreign teams have failed to accomplish: they reached our shores (EVENTS & DISCOVERIES, Jan. 11). Other teams have been discouraged in the face of AAU apathy, indifference or reluctance to permit them to play here. The Russian team had a previous visit canceled by the AAU. It took action by both governments to arrange the recent exchange. France and Italy both desired tours in this pre-Olympic year, and the Poles have been trying for four years. Although the Swedes were unable to play, they deserve recognition for getting a foothold on our shores.
The most tragic aspect of the case was that no college dared to circumvent the AAU ban. The AAU has no jurisdiction over the colleges. If one college had the courage to defy the ban, all of the colleges would have played. Does anyone think the AAU could or would enforce any action against them?
This recent act by the AAU proves again the need in the U.S. to organize our sports along federation lines and get in step with the rest of the sports world. In other lands it is as easy to arrange an international tour or intercontinental tour as it is for our colleges to schedule inter-sectional games. Federations do not promote any game except those involving teams from outside the country.
The Swedish matter is far from settled. It will be discussed at the World Basketball Congress at Rome. The Senate Foreign Affairs Committee is studying the matter now. I am going to exert every effort to organize our national basketball coaches into action to see that this and other blunders by the AAU in basketball are not repeated.
•Mr. McGregor, onetime basketball coach at Whittier College, Calif., is a roving basketball evangelist who, over the years, has spread the good word in more than two dozen foreign countries. It was his suggestion that the Swedish team approach the U.S. colleges directly.—ED.
Alas, Viking navigation has not only gone downhill but lost direction since the days of Leif Ericson. Staffing the ship in your cartoon (see below) with a basket-ball team has resulted in a stern-first counter-Columbus-wise trip to New York.
Club crew coach
Phillips Exeter Academy
UP THE HOWQUA
It is a glorious thing indeed to see Herb Elliott, the world's premier miler (I Get Bloody Sick of Training, SI, Jan. 18), sloshing through the Howqua River in his waterlogged boots, but I would like more information than that he "smiled thinly." Your obviously exhausted photographer-correspondent, who slunk back to the Mansfield pub, missed the point. The great Elliott, who is evidently capable of pulling the legs of others as well as stretching his own, ran barefoot in his next mile. I read somewhere that he claimed to have "forgotten his shoes." A likely story. He was blistered and chafed. I respect the desire of a great man in amateur athletics to get the hell-and-gone away from the swarm of handlers and self-appointed organization men who cluster around the fame of a world record.
However, at this distance, and from one who trudged up the Howqua to its headwaters below Mount Buller (no Alp this, a mere 7,000 or so feet), I trust that Mr. Elliott will not reject this retrospective advice. Any good Australian bushman could have told him the same. Don't run barefoot. Always walk dry-shod or, by God, you blister. Hang your boots round your neck when crossing water. Also, that vegetarian goo is no good. Eat trout (with which the Howqua swarms in such myriads that they can be tickled into the pan), whisky and steak until it becomes smellier than the man carrying it.
Using these methods, I have the honor to say, sir, that I beat Elliott's time distance—50 miles in three days, forsooth. Despite my flat feet, no blisters, and because of them, no records either.
New York City
In "Faces in the Crowd" of Jan. 4 I read that George Roden, a once-promising Colby halfback, was given an award for sportsmanship as a result of his having received Injuries while helping an injured teammate in a game. I have thought this over for several days, and I can't visualize the circumstances in which a player would be hurt while helping another player.
•In the game against Williams, Colby Halfback George Roden saw that a teammate was shaken up on a scoring play, told the injured player to stay back as safety (Roden's position on kickoffs) while Roden himself went downfield with the kick. Roden brought down the opposing ball carrier, and in the ensuing pileup suffered a shoulder separation that kept him out of play for the rest of his senior season.—ED.
ST. CROIX TO STAMFORD
Congratulations on the excellent article by Carleton Mitchell, New Magic in an Ancient Sea (SI, Jan. 11). We cruised those same heavenly islands last fall and were so carried away we bought Barnabus, the boat chartered by Mr. Mitchell for his cruise.
SUSY and HAROLD MOON
We New Yorkers, population of 8 million, can still be proud. For, to make us appear second-best in sports (The Decline and Fall of New York, SI, Jan. 11), you were forced to compare us to the combined achievements of Atlanta, Baltimore, Los Angeles, France and Sweden, with a combined population of 55 million.
In New York we are proud of our sports tradition, which includes fair play. Therefore, we'll take on all comers, but the fair way—one at a time.
ALLAN B. LUKS
New York City