LUCKY TO BE SECOND
"I would give anything," wrote Jimmie Robertson, editor of the University of Mississippi's campus newspaper last week, "if there was some chance of Ole Miss and Michigan State playing each other in a bowl game. However, the archaic thinking which prevails in our capital city makes this impossible." Robertson's anger and frustration came from the weekly football ratings, which listed Michigan State as No. 1 in the nation and Ole Miss as No. 2. Robertson thinks that his team is the best, but no one will ever know—Ole Miss refuses to meet any teams with Negro players. Thus, it cannot play Michigan State, Iowa or any other school that does not engage in the same sort of hominy-grits thinking.
That this sort of attitude still prevails in some southern centers of culture is hardly news. What is worth noting, however, is that student bodies of southern universities do not necessarily go along with the arteriosclerotic thinking of their faculty bosses. At the University of Texas recently, a campus-wide poll showed that the students were against such lily-white clauses 5 to 3. We somehow feel Jimmie Robertson is not alone at Ole Miss and that a poll there would show similar results. Meanwhile, let the panjandrums of Mississippi take their consolation from this one fact: only in a liberal, tolerant democracy could a school like Ole Miss be rated as high as No. 2 in anything.
THE INSIDE TRACK
•Las Vegas bookmakers will open the betting on the December 4 fight between Floyd Patterson and Tom McNeeley with Patterson an 8-to-1 favorite. Betting odds of 5 to 6 and pick will also be posted if you want to wager that the fight will or won't go nine rounds.
•American Football League executives are griping once more about the low caliber of officiating in the league. Officials from the Dallas Texans, Denver Broncos and the New York Titans have been grumbling for weeks now about the officials, but League Commissioner Joe Foss has been conspicuously silent about the situation.
•By increasing squads from 11 players to 12 this season, the National Basketball Association hopes to protect players from going to the American Basketball League and have enough fringe talent for NBA franchises in Baltimore and possibly San Francisco next year.
•Watch for the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association to call the nation's No. 1 singles player, Chuck McKinley, to task for appearing in five clothing advertisements in a San Antonio newspaper. McKinley denies he was given any compensation for posing.
•The latest feud among the Los Angeles Rams owners is due to the trading of End Del Shofner to the New York Giants in addition to poor play of the club (1961 record 2-6). The feud between Owners Ed Pauley and Dan Reeves may eventually end up in court.
Jessica Newberry, Olympic dressage rider, is building bomb shelters for her horses. We don't know how much interest there would be in the delicate art of dressage after an H-bomb war, but we do admire Miss Newbury's faith in her sport.
The People, a British newspaper, is currently printing a series by Gordon Pirie, a distance runner who represented England in the last three Olympic Games. It is Pirie's contention that many track athletes are doped in competition, and good old Gordie would like to see an end brought to all this. ("Make-believe amateur I may have been," he writes, "when it suited me. Cheat I never was. And never will be.")
Under a lurid headline, THOSE 'SUPERMEN' WON ON DOPE! Pirie suggests that Russia's Vladimir Kuts, who won the 5,000-meter gold medal at Melbourne in 1956, was using dope. "I suspect," writes Pirie, "that Kuts was either doped or hypnotized. I am not suggesting that Kuts, a very fine sportsman, ever accepted any form of 'treatment' willingly, but that he was forced to by Russian team officials." After the 5,000 meters, charges Pirie, when the medal winners "stood on the rostrum for the victory ceremony, Kuts had no idea which way to face for the flag-raising, and he'd been all through the performance as a winner a few days before! I looked at him carefully—and he was still acting strangely, rather like a man who has had a drink or two too many. I reported this to an official at the time and was told to say nothing about it. I haven't...until now."
Pirie also offers a suggestion for future international competitions: "I firmly believe the time has come when saliva tests should be taken of the first six finishers in every Olympic Games race and that there should be chance, on-the-spot examination of winners in other big international events."
Maybe so, but there is also a chance that Kuts was a little dopey with fatigue—a fatigue honestly acquired while running the legs off Mr. Pirie.
DON'T MESS WITH US DEER
There are some disturbing reports this year which indicate that deer—those frightened, shy innocents of the forest—may be changing their personalities. More than one hunter has been chased all over the map by an irritated buck. Now comes the case of Pat, a partly tame young deer at Baxter State Park in Maine. The other day Pat was strutting around, showing off his nice set of bootjack antlers and feeling pretty important. Then he took a little nap. A fat raccoon waddled up and awoke the sleeping monster. Pat jumped up, kicked the 'coon with his sharp front hoofs, hooked at him with those nice new antlers and drove him up a tree. Pat patrolled the area for an hour, kept the intruder treed and finally went back to bed. Maybe he figures he's a 'coon hound.
TO THE COLORS
Last week the newspapers once again began to carry those familiar pictures of athletes entering the service. At Fort Meade, Md. John Paluck of the Washington Redskins was pictured getting a shot, while Bobby Mitchell of the Cleveland Browns and Shortstop Ron Hansen of the Baltimore Orioles looked on. At the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, Paul Hornung, top scorer in the National Football League, simulated a hand-off to a uniformed sailor for the cameramen. At Fort Lewis, Wash. Tony Kubek of the New York Yankees was pictured drawing equipment, and at Fort Belvoir, Va. Pitcher Mudcat Grant of the Cleveland Indians joined the chow line.
Between now and next spring over 50 of America's best athletes will be recalled to the service through the reserve program, which already has taken 155,000 other citizens. Thus far, the teams hardest hit seem to be football's Packers, who lose their top punter, Boyd Dowler, and their outstanding linebacker, Ray Nitschke, plus superstar Hornung.
Baseball's Orioles lose their best pitcher, Steve Barber (18-12), as well as Shortstop Hansen. The Los Angeles Dodgers may find themselves without Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Willie Davis and Ron Fairly before the 1962 season begins. The St. Louis Hawks of the National Basketball Association already have felt the loss of their best backcourt man, Len Wilkens.
With one notable exception, the athletes have returned to service quickly and quietly. Senator Alexander Wiley, Republican of Wisconsin, at the request of some of his more rabid constituents in Green Bay, tried to get Hornung a deferment. Wiley's futile effort may have gained him the votes of Wisconsin's football fans, but it also earned him criticism from fans in San Francisco and Chicago, as well as from students of contemporary history everywhere.
It is to be hoped, of course, that the athletes—along with all called-up servicemen—will get in and out as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, we offer a few suggestions to the admirals and the generals. Let us not have a repetition of "grandstand" drafting wherein a famous athlete is called to duty merely because it would be swell publicity for the old battalion. Summoning the 33-year-old Ted Williams—a veteran of World War II—to serve in the Korean War seemed then, and seems now, to have been an example of such a grandstand play. On the other hand, when the athletes go into service, let them serve. Too many of them spent their wartime careers fighting on the football field for the glory of the Great Lakes naval station or the San Diego Marines.
JOURNEY TO NOWHERE
The day before Thanksgiving a cruise ship will leave New York with a load of happy vacationers headed for Bermuda. They will never reach Bermuda, however. This is a two-day, cut-rate ($95 tops) cruise and the ship merely goes 250 miles into the Atlantic "in the direction of Bermuda," then steams back home. We salute the imagination of the backers of this promotion. They have brought conversations like the following into the financial reach of all:
"What you doing for Thanksgiving?"
"Oh, we're heading for Bermuda."
If this cruise is a financial success, next year the ship can double its rates, make a four-day trip, and advertise that it is heading for Buenos Aires.
BEST SKATES FORWARD
In its usual well-meaning way the U.S. has been selecting only the purest amateurs for international hockey competition. And the system has usually produced mediocre hockey teams. This year Connie Pleban, coach of the team that will represent the U.S. at the World Amateur Ice Hockey Championships in Colorado Springs, is already sniffing around the International and Eastern hockey leagues for prospects. These players are not pure pros, but they're not pure amateurs either. They are subsidized with living expenses, and some have off-ice jobs that conveniently fit in with the hockey schedules. There will be a howl from some when our boys take the ice. But there was a worse howl when the U.S. came up with a timid group of college kids and weekend skaters who were humiliated at Geneva and Lausanne. This time we should do better.
WORDS AND PICTURES
"What is the use of a book without pictures or conversations?" Alice in Wonderland asked. Most of us feel the same way. But it is implicit in the Alice Test that the pictures and the conversation be good.
Robert Cantwell's new book passes with high marks. The title is Alexander Wilson, Naturalist and Pioneer (J.B. Lippincott, $15). Wilson, in another era, was considered the best of all painters of birds, and in his magnificent American Ornithology, published between 1808 and 1814, he combined meticulously accurate representations of mallards, pintails, woodcocks, blue-winged teal, rail, grouse and other tasty inhabitants of the American woods with some of the most concise, exact, informal and engaging nature writing ever put into print.
When Audubon's spectacular plates began to dazzle bird-lovers some 30 years after Wilson's death, the latter drifted into unread obscurity as "the father of American ornithology," a title that would probably have aroused his dour Scottish sense of humor. And his obscurity was deepened because his hand-colored books were generally locked away in rare-book collections. But he deserved better: he personally discovered 43 new species of American birds, pictured 264 species (out of the 343 species found within the territory of the U.S. of his time) and added familiar names to some 40 species, like the canvasback, which he was the first to paint and describe.
In 1956 Robert Cantwell stumbled across a set of Wilson's works that had been forgotten; Wilson himself had sold the books to Columbia University in 1808. An article which Cantwell wrote on his discovery appeared in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (Dec. 24, 1956) and led to a publisher's request for a full-length biography, the first ever devoted to this pioneer hunter and artist. Alexander Wilson, Naturalist and Pioneer, contains 20 reproductions of Wilson's bird studies, eight in full color, along with a good deal of Wilson's savory hunting lore. Since the biography also includes Robert Ball's charming decorative drawings and photographs of Wilson's birthplace near Paisley, Scotland, there would plainly be even enough pictures for Alice.
Alexander Wilson's fleeting, early fame was made by his achievements as an ornithographer and a traveler in the American wilderness. He will have a second fame now because of Cantwell's book, for even the most gifted men must depend on a gifted advocate to keep the fame alive.