PLAYING FOR PAY
Your quotation of Coach Glen Rose regarding the buyability of a recruited basketball player (SCORECARD, May 22) reminds me of a statement by the great William Lawrence, late Bishop of Massachusetts.
Opposing—in the 1920s, I think it was—some measure to promote professional sports, he said, "Always remember, gentlemen, that if you pay someone to win in an athletic competition, somebody else may pay him more to lose."
From the vantage point of more than 30 years in tennis (currently as teaching pro at the Indies House in Duck Key, Fla.) I have watched the decline and fall of my own favorite sport. Tennis—and I include the Kramer pros as well as the players under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association—is moving closer and closer to oblivion because of the lack of understanding of those who run it. The game has been permitted to drift along with dreamers at the tiller. It seems a shame to condemn the gentlemen who attempt to guide the destiny of tennis. I have known and been friends with most of these men since 1928, when I first made the Davis Cup team. Every one of them has been or is a successful businessman. But if they ran their businesses in the same manner as they direct tennis they'd have been on skid row long ago.
At the moment we have a lack of good players, a lack of money in the USLTA treasury and a definite lack of supervision of our Davis Cup team both as to how to play and how to act.
June 11, 1961
Our team acted like spoiled brats in Australia, and little wonder; with the easy money, the worldwide publicity, the back-slapping and handshaking, the glory of personal recognition, they began to think the world was made for them. But at the first sign of a reverse, with no training to meet a difficult situation, they were unable to conduct themselves in the spirit in which Davis first presented the trophy.
Can this alltime low morale be blamed entirely on a group of young men still in their teens? Of course not. The arrow points right straight back to the men who head the USLTA. Tennis needs desperately a guiding hand that has absolute authority in the same manner that Judge Landis controlled baseball. There have been no such things as amateur tennis players in the true sense of the word, so why try to force on the public such a hallucination—especially when it is very plain they're not having any of it.
Two types of tournaments should be offered. First, the one that is most in demand these days, namely, the open. This puts the cards on the table—play for money—everyone knows what the prize is and it's the devil take the hindmost.
The second type of tournament should be one in which no expenses or prize monies are paid. This will be the true amateur event. Everyone pays his own expenses. And therein lies the difference between this amateur tournament and the ones that are being held today. No pretense, no sham, no deceit, money never enters the picture—just a bunch of guys trying to find out who's the best tennis player. Sounds refreshing, doesn't it?
Duck Key, Fla.
In recent months you have had interesting articles by Mike Agostini (Jan. 30) and Phil Coleman (March 6) on the pros and cons of accepting payment for competing in track and field meets, articles on Arnold Palmer, Sportsman of the Year 1960, and the second major bribe scandal in college basketball, still under investigation. Actually, a common thread runs through them all: the rise of professionalism and decline of amateurism in athletics in the U.S.
Estimated participation figures indicate that more people are playing tennis and golf, bowling, boating, swimming, skin-diving and water skiing than ever before. The number of professionals in these sports compared to the total is extremely small.
Professional sports have not eliminated amateur sports, nor do they seem in any present danger of doing so in spite of their great growth. However, they have introduced a subtle change in our attitude toward sport, and this may be very important. The professional ideal is now replacing the amateur ideal for many of our young athletes. Thus, the positive values which derive from the amateur ideal are being lost to them and, in a sense, to all of us.
The professional ideal is to concentrate one's energies and abilities on the mastery of one or more sports to the exclusion of other interests and to the point where this sport becomes a full-time preoccupation and a means of earning a living. It implies that the educational process is of secondary importance, only incidental to the realization of this goal. The athlete's objectives are to perfect his technique and to win, because his chosen future depends on winning.
The amateur ideal regards sport only as one of many constructive activities in which man may engage to aid him in completing his development and realizing his total role in society. Sports help him to achieve a better state of physical fitness, to express himself in terms of grace, power, agility and all-out effort. Through victory or breaking a record he obtains a spiritual exaltation and intellectual satisfaction that contribute to the nobility of his character. "Make use of technique, but let the spirit prevail." These are the words of the late Pope Pius XII (SI, Oct. 24, 1955), himself an athlete and lover of sport.
If we follow the amateur ideal of sport as expressed in these broad terms, it seems we should have no trouble in implementing the recommendations of President Kennedy regarding national fitness for all.
ALLAN J. RYAN, M.D.
Please accept my heartiest congratulations on your article about the Reading's Iron Horse Rambles (Steam's Up on the Reading!, May 22). Two weeks earlier I climbed the very same signal tower at Mount Holly to shoot ol' 2100 as it posed proudly. Yes, I'm a railroad enthusiast—engineer's cap and goggles.
Most timely and interesting, as well as unique in a magazine such as SPORTS ILLUSTRATED! However, there is one small error which I must point out. After riding close to half a dozen Rambles, I decided that it might be fruitful for photographic purposes to chase the trip by automobile.
Therefore, since I was dubbed "a freeloader in an MG" in the article, may I say that I spent May 7 making stereo tape recordings of the train in an Austin Healey, not to be confused with an MG.
PETE VANDER VELD
Glen Ridge, N.J.
My congratulations go both to Mr. Horn and the Reading for providing the public with a glimpse into the nostalgic past.
ROBERT E. BENNETT JR.
How big can a name get?
Re Roger Williams' fine article, A New Sprinter for the Speed Master (May 22), where is this "Salinas (Kansas)" where Hal Davis is said to have gone to school?
Wait till John Steinbeck hears about this!
MATTHEW W. STIRLING
To the best of my knowledge there is no Salinas in Kansas. The word is Salina (as every loyal Kansan knows).
MAN TO BEAT
Thank you for your tribute to Tony Bettenhausen (SCORECARD, May 22). The Indianapolis "500" and the other races along the circuit will not be the same without the Flying Dutchman from Tinley Park, Ill. As Eddie Sachs said: "Tony was the finest race driver we ever had and, best of all, he was the fiercest of all competitors. There will never be anyone to replace him." Promoter Tom Marchese of Milwaukee said: "Tony was the most colorful driver that ever raced, bar none. He always gave the fans a show, and he could drive anything."
And perhaps the most fitting comment of all came from Rodger Ward. "Always," said the 1959 Indy winner, "Tony was the man to beat in any race."
San Bruno, Calif.
A fascinating article, especially for those of us who follow the "runners" (How to Enjoy a Trotting Race, May 29), I'm certain I'll enjoy the Hambletonian twice as much this year.
The answer to Charles Thayer's problem in Long Search for a Russian Trout (May 15) may be found in the current story about a Russian fisherman who visited Ireland recently. Amazed by his fantastic catches, he asked how it was that he could catch so many trout in Ireland and yet not in his native Russia. His Irish guide replied, "Sir, in this country the fish are allowed to open their mouths!"
J. P. MURRAY
I confess to gross ignorance in regard to crew, but am puzzled by one fact in the May 29 SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. Navy was listed as having a time of 6:01.5 for the 2,000 meters, while Washington was listed at 6:32.3 for 2,000 meters. Can there have been a misprint—or was there actually 30 seconds' difference in the times of the two events? I realize that the condition of the water would have much to do with times, but nothing indicated extreme choppiness or excellent conditions for either event. Frankly, I am puzzled as to the difference. Explanation?
San Mateo, Calif.
•Navy had a hefty tailwind.—ED.