SANITY IN SPORTS REPORTING
Refreshing indeed were the remarks of Mr. Leighton Housh, as reported in EVENTS & DISCOVERIES (Jan. 25), pertaining to "newspaper leadership toward sanity in dealing...with all sports."
That this should come from a member of the sportswriting fraternity is even more invigorating, since the transition in recent years from able journalistic champions of sports to the current crop of editorializing demoralizers must result in public disdain for most things athletic. That the public continues to support sports events in spite of the efforts of the newspapers' professional mudslingers is a fine tribute to its love for competition and loyalty to favorite teams and players.
The need for "critical self-appraisal" to which Mr. Housh refers has not necessarily evolved of itself—it has been created by so-called sports reporters who for some reason have become dedicated to tearing down any ideals which may have existed regarding athletes and sporting events. They seem to resent any admiration of hero worship and seek to dispel any notions of honor or fair play.
Not that the public has any false illusions about professional sports, nor delusions of grandeur as to some of the motives behind many promotions, but for Lord's sake let us form our own opinions at least on the sporting scene. We've had to submit to written barrages as to politics, finances, world affairs, national economy; and in recent years Ann Landers has even stepped in to solve our own personal problems. So please, let's have a return to sports reporting—with even a little schmaltz from time to time to glamorize somebody rather than pulverize him.
JACK E. SIEG
February 8, 1960
Congratulations to Leighton Housh of the Des Moines Register and Tribune for his speech to sportswriters on the sad state of our moral climate. Mr. Housh raises the age-old question of the extent of the press's responsibility for creating this climate and imputes to the press a capacity for leading the public to higher and drier ground in all things moral and just.
It is sensible of Mr. Housh to assume his profession's share of the blame, but I cannot help but feel the press (like radio and television) tends to give the public what it wants. He states quite correctly that we need "more people who know right from wrong, who are not afraid to dig out the facts in unsavory cases and write the story.... Such people will not be popular, but they will be respected."
If they are not popular, though, I fear their columns may be dropped, just as many high-quality TV shows are dropped for low ratings. There is no single or pat solution, and we need to attack the problem on many fronts if maturity is to be achieved and virtue respected in the sports world and elsewhere.
GEORGE WERNTZ JR.
DON'T MAKE FOOLS OF ANIMALS
I want to thank you for your excellent and courageous article on the Tennessee Walking Horse (The Torture Must End, SI, Jan. 11).
I have loved horses all my life, all horses, from ponies to plow horses. I'm not an impractical sentimentalist who thinks horses should be kept under glass and not made to do anything contrary to their wishes. I like best the "using" horses, and enjoy polo, rodeo, racing, all good honest work appropriate to the horse's ability and handling.
This is where so many show people fail. They do not have the ability or patience, nor will they take the time to properly school a horse, so they resort to all sorts of mechanical devices and customs to make up for their own lack of skill. Some examples are the long foot and weights, cut tails, ginger, brutal bits, dope for stimulation, dope to quiet them, blocking and false tails. Horses and horse lovers have put up with a lot of revolting nonsense for a long time. This Walking Horse abuse is downright brutality, and I sincerely believe 90% of the spectators would walk out if they knew what was going on.
I love horses but like horse shows less and less, because I do not like to see people making fools out of horses, with their "broken" tails, exaggerated gaits and carriage, sequins on their hoofs and so on. The Walking Horse in action is almost repulsive-looking, more like a giraffe than a horse, with his crouching quarters and ridiculously long stride. They have certainly made a mess of the "world's greatest pleasure horse." As shown in the ring he's absolutely no pleasure to ride and I'm sure despises being ridden.
I have five extra copies of your article and am sending marked copies to the humane societies to which I belong. I have talked to several committee members of the Cincinnati Charity Horse Show and took the magazine to the last meeting of our small county humane society. Our agent says he has the legal authority to stop any such abuse and last summer made himself quite unpopular with certain exhibitors at some little local shows, by forcing them to remove abusive spurs. These are small shows, chiefly "western" (what a misnomer that is!), but if he can do it there, why can't SPCA bodies do it elsewhere?
There are a lot of people on your and the horses' side. As so frequently happens, the wrong people are in the saddle.
CAROLINE M. BELL
Cheers for your Tennessee Walking Horse story are echoing in every mail that has arrived at this office this week.
Your story has been a most pleasant surprise to humanitarians, and Alice Higgins is to be commended for her stand. Ironically, one never reads of a horse magazine attempting to correct cruelties to horses, and I have yet to see a cattle magazine write on the horrors of transportation and slaughter of cattle!
Popular Dogs is the one dog magazine in the country that warns dog breeders on the evils of overbreeding, on the practice of cropping and docking. I am not a crusader—not in any way; I just cannot bear to see indifference toward unnecessary cruelty.
•See page 62 for a report on some dog show practices.—ED.
CONSIDER THE NOBLE SETTER
I read with interest a letter (19TH HOLE, Jan. 18) concerning your Nov. 9 EVENTS & DISCOVERIES report on a state dog for Pennsylvania.
I have no particular objection to the great Dane as such. However, if the legislature of Pennsylvania, or any other state, in its wisdom, deems it necessary to have an official dog, I strongly feel that it should designate one whose characteristics are similar to and consistent with the characteristics of the state for which it is named.
Pennsylvania prides itself upon having some of the finest fishing, hunting and recreational areas of any state in the country. There are good facilities available throughout the state, even close to metropolitan areas.
In addition, the official tree is the hemlock, the official bird is the grouse, and the official flower is the laurel. I can think of nothing more out of character than the great Dane lumbering through the hemlock and the laurel, disrupting the peace and quiet of the valleys and the hillsides and driving the grouse to the verge of a mental breakdown.
If it is necessary to have an official dog (with which I have no particular quarrel), why should it not be the noble English setter, who considers and looks upon the hemlock, the laurel and the grouse with that appreciation and understanding which he has acquired over the centuries from personal experience?
HENRY M. HIPPLE
Lock Haven, Pa.
L.A. CAN BEAT N.Y.
I am referring to Richard L. Frey's letter in 19TH HOLE of January 25.
While Mr. Frey's authority and knowledge, as publicity director of the American Contract Bridge League, as nationally syndicated columnist and as alltime great player, is unquestioned, let me point out that Los Angeles today can boast of at least as fine an array of great players as New York City.
At the recently concluded Winter Nationals, Los Angeles players won more titles than the rest of the country combined. Mathe, Taylor, Schleifer, Hanna were all invited to represent the U.S. at Turin's Bridge Olympiad, while ex-New Yorker Rubin qualified for that distinction last summer. For the past two years my team, consisting of Ollie Adams, Ed Kantar and Marshall Miles, having won the All-Western Knockout Team title twice in a row, has consistently beaten most of the finest teams in the country, including New Yorkers Crawford, Stone, Becker, Rapee, Stayman, Fishbein, et al.
While certainly not implying that New York bridge players are second-rate, please note that we in Los Angeles certainly dispute their claim of being numerouno. We'd be happy to field a six-man team to meet their best, anywhere, anytime, and let the better team win.
IVAN E. ERDOS
SMOKE AND ICE IN RUSSIA
Jerry Cooke's "A Place in the Sun" (SI, Jan. 25) is photographic journalism at its best. Some questions it brings to mind are: Do Russian workers smoke? At what time of the year and at what actual temperature was the picture taken?
JAMES B. ELLSWORTH
St. Petersburg, Fla.
•Although none of the Russians in Cooke's picture (which he took in February with the temperature around 25° F.) were smoking at the time, on the whole Russians smoke as much as Americans.—ED.
The schoolboy "hockey" at Sokolniki pictured on your January 25 cover is better known as bandy in the Soviet Union, Finland, Sweden, Norway...and South Carolina.
It is generally played on a soccer-size field with 11 men composing each team. Please note the hooked club, round ball, enlarged goal, one-arm swing and low boards, all characteristic of bandy.
WEILER R. HURREN
•Bandy Player Hurren is right.—ED.
A PROTOZOOLOGIST SAMPLES 'CEVICHE'
Having enjoyed ceviche in Panama, I was delighted to find it described in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (FOOD, Jan. 25). As a parasitologist, however, I feel impelled to point out a hazard like this one.
Some fresh-water fish contain infective larvae of the fish tapeworm, a parasite which may attain a length of over 30 feet in the human intestine and occasionally causes pernicious anemia. These larvae are destroyed by cooking or freezing but would probably survive the short marinating process used in making ceviche. They have, in fact, produced infection in housewives tasting gef√ºllte fish during preparation. Several kinds of fish from the Great Lakes region and Canada have been found to be infected, including northern pike, walleyes and yellow perch.
In Mexico and Central America ceviche is made from marine fish. There is good reason to believe that any marine fish obtainable in the U.S. would be safe. I can recommend ceviche enthusiastically, but only salt-water fish should be used.
RICHARD J. PORTER
Professor of Protozoology
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Mich.
I'll bet the price of a bottle of salsa picante sauce that Don Francisco de la Macorra's yacht Paisano (FOOD, Jan. 25) is a schooner, not a ketch.
We'll enjoy the sauce.
ARTHUR S. JOHNSON
•The Paisano is a ketch. Pass the bottle.—ED.
FUN AT NIGHT
Regarding Pablo Picasso's Night Fishing at Antibes (SPORT IN ART, Jan. 11)—that's "tense excitement"?
DIANA L. SMITH
MORE ON YOGA
Your article Yoga Comes West (SI, Jan. 25) interested me greatly. I would appreciate it if you could recommend a basic, informative book on the subject. I have neither the time nor the money to hire a guru, yet I would like to learn whatever is possible by reading about yoga.
DOUGLAS M. STUART
•Author Joe David Brown, who wrote that "yoga is the most intoxicating, the most startlingly effective and, unless precautions are taken, the most dangerous system of physical and mental training," warns readers that "yoga is not a do-it-yourself hobby." But those interested in a few evenings' reading might want to try: Yoga for Americans by Indra Devi (Prentice-Hall); Yoga for Today by Clare Spring and Madeleine Goss (Holt); Yoga and Self-Culture by Sri Deva Ram Sukul (Yoga Institute of America); Yoga and Long Life by Yogi Gupta (Dodd, Mead); The Yoga System of Health and Relief from Tension by Yogi Vithaldas (Crown); and Practical Yoga, Ancient and Modern by Ernest E. Wood (Dutton).—ED.
Although we have 11 months of 1960 ahead of us, I would like to nominate John Thomas, the young high jumper from Boston University, for Sportsman of the Year 1960. The story of his near-tragic elevator accident in 1959 is well known, and his remarkable high-jumping feats prior to that are even better known.
At the Knights of Columbus games in Boston, competing for the first time since his accident, he cleared 7 feet and barely missed a new world's record of 7 feet 2¼ inches. Should this boy go on to set a new world's record in 1960 and capture Olympic honors in Rome, I believe he would truly be the Sportsman of 1960.
J. KIMBALL WHITNEY
•See page 59.—ED.
WORLD BOXING ASSOCIATION
The draft constitution for a world professional boxing association (SI, Jan. A) misses the boat in that its text has constructed a house without providing a foundation. It is a wrongful delegation of authority for official bodies to give carte blanche powers to a council. Article IV (1) does just that.
It is hornbook drafting that standards which are to govern an organization, particularly a world organization, be set out in the basic instrument itself. Certainly, in its present form, the council proposed in the draft, with its unlimited power, could write in many provisions which may later prove unacceptable to boxing commissions and associations. It would seem wiser to call a preliminary meeting or convention (probably at the invitation of the National Boxing Association), with delegates from the various associations and countries concerned, to draft a set of specific standards and conditions as well as a constitution which can thereafter be sent to the participating organizations for ratification. Once the constitution is adopted, the council, using the standards as guides and working within them, may promulgate proper regulations for the administration and control of boxing.
C. F. BRICKFIELD
•Article IV (1) reads: "[The Council] shall after due consideration adopt principles and standards to govern professional boxing, with the objective of assuring fair and open competition for the championship and eliminating restrictive practices and tie-in arrangements." A meeting of boxing commissions would of course be necessary to consider the standards by which the Council would be guided.—ED.
BRIDGE: ENDURANCE RECORD
Three students from the University of Colorado and one from the University of Denver wish to challenge the current record for consecutive hours and hands of bridge (all bidding Goren, of course).
However, we have encountered several difficulties. First, what is the record? Second, under what circumstances must the game be played in order to be recognized as a championship event? Third, do we need NCAA sanction, and if so, are we allotted only $8 a day each for playing expenses?
GERALD M. FRUMESS JR.
•The most recent "record," which was published in The Bulletin of the American Contract Bridge League without eliciting claims of higher figures, is 72 hours 45 minutes of nonstop play, completing 613 hands, by four undergraduates at Cambridge University in England.
At present, the only national bridge championship event for college students is the Intercollegiate Championship, in which "par" hands are played simultaneously on hundreds of campuses and the results are scored by mail.—ED.
U.S. JUMPERS IN BULGARIA
In your January 4 report on leading American sportsmen I was very disappointed to find no mention of an American sportsman who went behind the Iron Curtain and won second place in an international competition. He is Loy Brydon, and the competition was the Adriatic Parachuting Cup meet, held in August 1959 in Tivat, Yugoslavia.
Although few in number, people like myself see in Brydon's outstanding performance a small but positive wedge in the Russian domination of this sport.
At the present time, the best sport parachutists in the United States are busy preparing for the U.S. team tryouts to be held here at Fort Bragg in April of 1960. I feel that the American public should be made aware that when the world championship meet is held in Bulgaria next summer there will be a team wearing the colors of the United States on their uniforms. This team will be the best of approximately 50 sport parachutists who have expended tremendous amounts of effort, time and money for a chance to represent their country in a sport that is very popular in Europe but receives only a small token of public interest here.
CLINTON C. SMITH
Fort Bragg, N.C.