WHO WON AT WATERLOO
Since we live in an age of disillusionment it probably will cause our readers no great shock to learn on page 52 that the Duke of Wellington never did say those things about the playing fields of Eton and the victory at Waterloo. The remark long attributed to the Iron Duke was, as a matter of fact, put in his mouth posthumously by a mid-19th century French historian badly in need of a ringing phrase to liven a dull political passage. Regardless of its origin, however, the quasi quote managed to embody a significant truth and so at this particular stage of the world's history we, at least, relinquish it with reluctance.
It is one thing to dismiss a tired old cliché and quite another to renounce the underlying truth that gave it currency for many years. The fashion today is to pretend that a schoolboy's games and the serious business of living in an adult world have little in common, that sport has no place in education, and that the wars of the future will be won with textbooks alone. "Schools are a place for work" is the way the new atomic Navy's Admiral Hyman G. Rickover puts it, and his views are reflected in those of many top educators.
It may be that this philosophy will provide the world with better guided missiles but we doubt that it will provide it with better people. Man does not always need to make war, but he does need to strive and to win, to prove himself to himself as well as to others.
Last winter in a report on the junior high schools of the nation, Harvard's ex-President James Bryant Conant expressed his "shock" at finding "an almost vicious overemphasis on athletics." Since Dr. Conant is a thoughtful man, one must respect his conclusion while not necessarily agreeing with it—but even Dr. Conant must admit that the American tendency to want to produce winning teams on any level reflects a national desire to excel.
Another Harvardman, the late William James, has described sport as a moral kind of warfare. To teach a schoolboy how to grow in strength and skill and how to win without malice in an atmosphere of fair play seems to us a pretty vital part of education—regardless of who won at Waterloo.
IN LIEU OF GIANTS
Sport drew the world a little closer together last week when some of Europe's top footballers arrived in New York City for an off-season season of international soccer. This experiment in global unity was no bit of dreamy idealism on the part of well-intentioned do-gooders, but a solidly businesslike and sense-making piece of sports promotion, and as such we applaud it.
Soccer is the No. 1 spectator sport everywhere but in the U.S. Since the defection of National League baseball to the West Coast, New Yorkers have been hungry for a good summertime sport. Since New York is a cosmopolitan town, veteran Sports Promoter William D. Cox concluded it might prove a fertile field for soccer. He accordingly arranged to bring 11 of the world's best teams into the vacated Polo Grounds for a full season of interclub play. "If we can just average 10,000 fans a game," said Cox, "we'll probably do all right." The desired 10,000 was exactly what he got last week at the first game (between Scotland's Kilmarnock and Germany's Bayern-Munchen). This is pretty small pickings by the standards of Europe, where crowds of 100,000-plus are common. But the 10,000 New Yorkers themselves saw some fast and thrilling sport in the old home of the Giants. And in Germany's lithe Arpad Fazekas they found a potential hero who can tend goal with some of the skill and excitement of a Willie Mays in center field.