Athletes who never quite make it to the big time tend to keep their egos alive by blaming it all on some visitation of vindictive fate: a fly ball lost in the sun, a coach afflicted with idiocy, a deranged whirlpool machine. "If I hadn't stubbed my toe on the way to the shower...," they say, rolling their eyes heavenward. Members of the staff of this magazine are as susceptible as anyone else to the solace of this kind of what-might-have-been. Most of us secretly believe that—in direct contradiction to the words of Shakespeare's Cassius—the reason that we are sporting incompetents lies "in our stars," not "in ourselves."
Weep, then, for the shattered dreams of Associate Editor Joe Jares, a onetime Hamilton (Los Angeles) High School basketball player of more or less vast potential who, for one reason or another, never progressed beyond a weak freshman team at USC. What cruel turn of fate cheated Jares of his rightful fame? None whatever, according to Drs. Tom Tutko and Bruce Ogilvie, whose story Jares begins on page 30.
Before he sat down to write about the two psychologists' Institute for the Study of Athletic Motivation, in which they endeavor to find out what makes sportsmen run, Joe submitted himself to the 190-question motivational test that the doctors have already given some 15,000 other athletes. It is a test aimed at 11 vital areas to aid coaches in determining if, how, why and under what situations an athlete may fail or succeed. As applied to Joe Jares, it seemed to prove that journalism's obvious gain was no loss whatever to the sporting world.
According to the examining psychologists, Jares—whom all our editors know to be a painstaking craftsman—scored exceptionally high in emotionality (the ability to handle one's feelings), conscience and mental toughness (all qualities highly valued in a journalist) while floundering dismally on aggressiveness, "coachability" and "the desire to be a winner." Pressed to comment on this analysis, Jares admits there is merit in it. "I would practice and practice," he says of his college basketball days, "but in a game I was so unaggressive as to be hardly more than a spectator."
January 18, 1971
Oddly enough, however, the psychologists' verdict has begotten a new Jares. Content now (we hope) to be a well-behaved journalist, Joe still gets involved in half-court games at a New York YMCA with characters like ex-New York Giant Halfback Frank Gif-ford, former Duke basketball star Art Heyman, actor Elliott Gould and others whose capacity for aggressiveness probably rates higher than his. But where he once suffered elbows in the breadbasket with characteristic passivity, the new Jares has now turned tiger. "Recently," he admits. "I've deliberately tried to be much more aggressive. Sometimes the results are fantastic."
We don't know whether this is good or not. Other writers with offices near Jares say they sometimes catch him staring dreamily into space over the top of his typewriter. Is he saying to himself: "If only I'd taken that test before the game against UCLA...?"