THE LIFE AND DEATH OF BOXING
"And good riddance" will be the silent reaction shared by many to The End of College Boxing (SI, April 25).
"What, are you mad, dear reader?" I can hear Martin Kane proclaim. "Bring an end to this noble sport and exercise?"
My answer is a thinking man's "Why not?"
The ultimate aim of boxing—whether as it was practiced by the ancient Greeks with cestus-protected hands, by the Romans in their Colosseum games or by the well-padded collegians—is the physical destruction of another human being. The degree of destruction may run from simple exhaustion on the part of two small Navy tikes to the death of Charlie Mohr.
How about other body-contact sports? Don't they inflict physical injury and death too? True, but the difference is that in no other popular sport is the ultimate objective the destruction of the opponent in order to be declared the winner.
Perhaps what I am really trying to say is that boxing more than any other contest between human beings runs counter to the tenets of Christianity and moral theology.
Sissy attitude? As a high school and collegiate participant (Kansas State University) in football, basketball and track, I appreciate the thrill and manliness of competitive body-contact sports. But boxing? Let it lie there. It deserves an ignoble death.
I fervently hope for the end of college boxing as a step toward the complete abolishment of boxing.
I, too, have thrilled to the beauty of such a skilled performer as Ray Robinson and the deadly explosive power of a Joe Louis. However, boxing's attributes of skill, stamina, courage and conditioning can be found in any contact sport.
HERBERT M. MAISTELMAN
I hope the critics of college boxing read Martin Kane's article with a searching and dispassionate mind.
It has been the contention of the National Intercollegiate Boxing Coaches Association that the sport of boxing as conducted in colleges receives much undue criticism. The Mohr incident brings this to light. There were 29 deaths as a result of injuries suffered in football last year in the United States. Eighteen of these deaths were directly from injury to the head and neck. Of the 18, seven were incurred in high school football and six in sandlot games, two in semipro football and three in college football. The one death in college boxing received more publicity than all 29 deaths in football. Why should this be? Isn't death as a result of a football injury to be abhorred just as much as death as a result of a boxing injury?
To ask that college boxing be abolished on the basis that the sport is allegedly too dangerous would, in effect, ask for the deletion of all contact sports from the sports curriculum; for the very factors that allegedly make boxing too hazardous are present in all contact sports. There is inherent risk of bodily harm in any activity, and more so in contact sports than in non-contact sports, but the values accruing to the participant far outweigh the risk involved.
May rational heads prevail in future evaluation of boxing as an intercollegiate activity.
Secretary, National Intercollegiate Boxing Coaches Association
•While it is true that last year three college football players died as a result of injuries received in play, it should be borne in mind by those concerned with the physical hazards of contact sports that over the same period 65,690 boys played football in college as compared with 3,708 who boxed.—ED.
It would indeed seem tragic if the death of Charlie Mohr and the death of collegiate boxing were associated in a cause-and-effect relationship. If his death is the reason why college boxing died, then his death would be not only tragic but ironic.
What makes Charlie Mohr's death any more tragic than others who have died at 22? Charlie symbolized, it has been said, all that a college athlete ought to be. This, of course, is very true, but it is incomplete. He not only symbolized what an athlete ought to be, but what a man ought to be. He was not only an excellent athlete, but also a thoughtful, friendly and personable individual to know, whether in the locker room or in the classroom.
He loved boxing deeply. Anyone who would run three miles daily before classes to get into condition certainly symbolizes something more than an average athlete. He was a devoted one. In this respect it would be ironic that the sport he loved and to which he gave so much stature should crumble because of his death. It would be unfair to him and unfair to his gracious family. Charles Mohr Sr., with his letter to Charlie's opponent absolving him of any blame, surely exemplifies what his son himself would have wanted.
KENNETH W. STETSON
University of Wisconsin
Surely you did not think you could knock a couple of Texans without hearing from an outraged Texan (SCORECARD, April 25). It was bad enough when you knifed the great Rajah for an overzealous remark, but when you started picking on an innocent bystander, Tris Speaker, you made me angry.
You had the audacity to say that "Musial puts the like of Tris Speaker to shame." Agreed that Stan has clobbered more home runs, but the true test of any ballplayer is his value to his team. Speaker was not only a great hitter (with a lifetime mark of .344 over a 22-year span), but he has never had an equal in the field. The Cardinals' biggest problem is: Where can Musial do less damage—at first or in the outfield?
No, Speaker did not swing for the fences. He was not after personal records. He was trying to win games for his team—which is supposed to be the main purpose of a ballplayer.
Which brings us to your other hero, Ted Williams. Past managers of his have slowly died of frustration as he pulled the ball to right against an overshifted infield and outfield instead of slapping a game-winning single to left. Williams has not won fielding awards, for good reasons.
You went on to say: "And that famed slugger Rogers Hornsby himself would hit lower in the lineup than the modern stars."
Why not ask one of the managers of last year's pennant winners where he would bat a fellow who had a lifetime average of .358, three times hit more than .400 (.401, .424, .403), once hit .397, twice led the National League in home runs and runs batted in—42 and 39 homers, 152 and 143 RBIs—and who led the National League in batting seven times?
I agree with you that both Musial and Williams are great players. There are a lot of future greats now playing. Despite records that may be established in the future, we should never take lightly yesterday's greats like Hornsby, Speaker and Wagner.
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
I read with interest the description of Candlestick Park (SI, April 25), the new home of the Giants in San Francisco, but like thousands of other fans I would like to know where the name originated.
•The sports editors of San Francisco's four newspapers chose the name Candlestick Park from 2,000 suggestions volunteered by local fans. The stadium is situated on land known as Candlestick Point because of the rocks which jut up from the shallow tide-lands. To critics who bemoaned the lack of baseball associations in the name the sports editors replied that very little polo had ever been played in the Polo Grounds.—ED.