The first Roman Olympiad in history has come to an end to the accompaniment of joyous shouts and mournful moans. It produced many great achievements and a few flimsy alibis. Nobody was happy about all the results or circumstances, but everybody was happy about the grandeur that was Rome this summer. No matter how many gold medals were won or lost by athletes of this or that nation, a popular vote would have accorded medals to the architects and booby prizes to the traffic cops.
Those watching the Games via television (300 million, it is estimated) or reading of them in their publications have had mixed feelings. But, by and large, Americans have plenty of reason to be proud of what their athletes did and the way they behaved during and after their victories and defeats. Some sports fans were disturbed because we lost a few events in which we had previously excelled, and in their vexation they have lost sight of the extraordinary performances of some of our athletes.
Clearly, our female star was three-gold-medal winner Wilma Rudolph, who proved herself not only a magnificent athlete, but a gracious lady. Rafe Johnson, our male star, who took the decathlon in a tense and sporting battle with the California-trained Formosan Chuan Kwang Yang, was as modest in victory as he was skilled in its attainment. After it was all over, he accepted his congratulations humbly and took a walk to look at the moon without any thought of the contest between Americans and Russians to reach it first.
It was a good thing for the Olympics that have just ended and those to come that Americans did not sweep everything before them. (It is always refreshing when the Yankees lose a World Series.)
We congratulate the Russians on their indisputable, sportsmanlike victory, although they won a disproportionate number of medals in events regarded as minor in many nations.
What of Tokyo and 1964? There are three points of view:
1) That the Olympics, if not war, are at least cold war, and that it is a national responsibility to beat the Russians.
2) That sports have nothing to do with politics. This is the view of Avery Brundage and most international Olympic officials.
3) That it is important to win because any competition becomes pointless and demoralizing unless all the competitors give their very best. This is our view. As we noted in an editorial in the Olympic Preview Issue, "Sports should never be dominated by nations; but nationalism, judiciously mixed with the Olympic spirit, which aims to promote sports for sports' sake, is healthy for sports, for nations and for individuals."
FREEDOM TO KILL?
Whether you're 12 or 82, in sound or feeble mind, drunk or sober, you can walk into almost any marina and take any boat that strikes your fancy into any navigable waters of the U.S.—even if you haven't a license to run a scooter.
The result of this negligent encouragement of mutual mayhem has been a steadily increasing accident and death rate on the waterways as the number of boat owners and renters rises each year. According to the Coast Guard, there now are about 40 million Americans participating in recreational boating and between 7 and 8 million small-boat owners in the United States.
The boat buyers and even some salesmen are opposed to a Coast Guard proposal to license boat operators, and the owners do not even like the current rule that you must register your boat and paint the number on the bow. All these laws, say the rugged individualists, violate the sovereign right of every American to kill or maim any other American.
We are for stricter laws, a license for every boat operator and an increase in appropriations for the Coast Guard and for other supervisory bodies in the states. Then waterways may become more than slightly safer than the highways.