LET'S EMPHASIZETHE INDIVIDUAL
There is much talk about de-emphasizing nationalism in the Olympics andeliminating it altogether in favor of honoring the individual winners. I thinkthis could best be accomplished not only by forgetting the point-scoring system(E & D, Feb. 13) but with a change in approach all the way down the line,beginning right with the Olympic ceremonies. The Americans in their white coatsand red hats, mitts and sweaters stood out handsomely this year. The Russians,while not so handsome in brown and blue, also stood out. The same was true ofevery nation there. Thus the costumes denoted, at a glance, "Russian"or "American." If the emphasis is to be on the best individuals in eachevent, why not have each class of entries dressed alike, if you will, andlikewise march together in the pre-game ceremony? Skiers together, skaterstogether and so on. This way the national might and prestige of powerfulnations like the U.S. and Russia would not overshadow small delegations such asBolivia. Likewise the achievements of athletes could better be considered on anindividual basis instead of as just so many more points for their respectivecountries.
The Olympicsshould be purely and simply a gathering of athletes, not a conclave of nationsin competition for world-wide notice.
May Icongratulate you on your unbiased and enlightening article on Mr. Brundage (SI,Jan. 30, Feb. 6). For too long I have felt the lack of accurate informationabout him. He emerges a capable and admirable man.
MRS. MARIANNE MAGNAN
BETTER THAN ABATTLEFIELD
The 1956 Winter Olympics have well demonstrated that ample monetary support forathletic training programs, i.e., money from the state, tends to permit moreextensive practice and improved performance. The Olympic Games are a grand showand certainly worthy of continuation, because the various factions in the"Cold War" meet on the athletic field rather than on a futurebattlefield. And for those of us who are spectators only they provide asthrilling a show as anything in sports.
Salt Lake City
The best country won due to better conditioning and better teams. You didn'tsay, as others did, that the Russians were professionals and won because ofthat. No, you made the truth obvious and made no excuses for our lack oftraining.
Thank you forsuch broad-minded reporting.
NO PROS INRUSSIA
The fact that so many of our greatest athletes turn professional hurt us dearlyat Cortina and other international competitions, in particular with theRussians.
The Communistshave no professional athletes; thus they do not suffer the loss of any superstars as we do. Can you imagine what our professional boxers, basketball andhockey teams would do to the "amateur" Russian teams?
For my money, westill are the greatest sporting nation in the world, not in need of a warning,but of some fair adjustments!
Without SI, lifewouldn't be the same.
GEORGE D. GORDON
RUSSIANS ARE NOTAMATEURS
I notice that now after the Olympic Winter Games there is some tendency on ourpart to take a lenient view of Russian professionalism. We hear that theysimply have the better people, that they try harder, that their devotion is themore intense and so on. I would like to take exception to this sporting"spirit of Cortina" and simply say once more: the Russians areprofessionals.
The whole simpleand wonderful idea of the Olympics is the idea of the individual leaving hisjob and family and meeting somewhere in the world with fellow athletes who havedone the same. Ideally, a runner has trained hard in his own home town as besthe can with available facilities. If there is no track, then he jogs throughthe public parks, just as you tell of the Pioneer Club (SI, Feb. 13). Hisfellow citizens send him to the Olympic meeting place and he does the best hecan against amateurs like himself.
By no stretch ofthe imagination could this idyllic situation be found in Russia. I do not carewhether Russian athletes are paid hard cash or not. It is blatantly obviousfrom all we know that any young man or woman of great athletic talent isseparated from his or her companions and "taken up" by the state to bepolished into the finest athletic product possible in state-financed athleticplants. This is not amateurism.
The sad truth is,of course, that the Russian system is incapable of sustaining or formingamateurism. An amateur is an individual who does the best he feels he should orcan do. A Russian athlete is a ward of the state who is absorbed by the state,with no individual limitations on the time and effort that can and are expendedon his training, diet and coaching.
I think that itwas a terrible mistake to admit the Russians to the Olympic Games, regardlessof whether they "win" them, "lose" them or come out in themiddle. Amateurism is an ideal to us. It is a foolish, inexplicable weakness toany totalitarian system.
HUME BOYD GARRISON
The Olympics are a farce. Either let us send our very best athletes,professional or amateur (who cares?), the way the Russians do, or let's pullout. They are making monkeys out of us.
JOHN WILLIAM GREBER
The U.S. public as a whole underestimates the values to be derived from theinternational Olympic Games. Sports, besides cultivating the individual's mindand body, build character and develop moral virtue; and, when conducted on aninternational basis, foster sportsmanship and good will among nations.
For some time Ihave been angered and even ashamed by the apparent lack of interest andindifference shown by most U.S. citizens for our own Olympians. We have thenational assets to win more gold, silver and bronze medals. We criticize Russiafor an over-emphasized sports program bordering on professionalism. One needonly look at the results of the recent Games in Cortina to see how theirprogram paid off, not only in medals won but in international prestige. We areappalled at the rate of juvenile delinquency in this country. Perhaps if moreof our youth's energy were channeled into sports we could alleviate thiscondition.
Recently we—thegreatest nation in the world—have been caught short in international sportscompetition through lack of proper equipment and funds, resulting from publicapathy. Your publication has done a great service to the world of sport increating enthusiasm, but there is still much to be done.
Our Olympianshave always given a good account of themselves. It's time we, the public, begangiving a good account of ourselves in developing and supporting with time andfunds a broader sports program for our youth. Let's start backing the Olympicsand our Olympians in particular.
White Plains, N.Y.
My 12-year-old son lost in the 50-yard dash at his school, after a series ofwins. He explained to me that his shoes bothered him. I listenedsympathetically but told him not to alibi to anyone else.
Now we readstatements from various coaches and officials that the American winter sportsteam lost because of outmoded equipment and other superficial alibis. For menin their position to express such poor sportsmanship is the biggest shock in along association with the sports world. My son will hardly believe now thatgentlemen don't make excuses when they lose.
Now this morningwe read that Carol Heiss and Ronnie Robertson refused to stay in the same hotelwith the victors.
Your magazineshould voice a strong disapproval of the atmosphere created to date by theAmerican Olympic performers and officials.
NATHANIEL F. GLIDDEN JR.
NO POLITICS INTHE STADIUM
I am most disturbed by the reactions in our country to the Winter Games. Theletters columns of newspapers and magazines are filled with suggestions that weabandon our "outmoded" and "idealistic" ideas on amateurism andadopt the Russian system of outright subsidies to athletes in both cash andfree training opportunities. I have heard over and over again that "Russiais winning the cold war through the Olympics," and "The U.S. is made tolook a sucker in the Games."
I was a spectatorat Cortina, and nowhere at any time did I hear this kind of talk or reasoning.Cortina to all who were present was a magnificent spectacle of individualathletic performances, a wonderful sports celebration.
Both spectatorsand competitors were too awed and fascinated by this occasion to care a strawabout any "political significance of the 50-kilometercross-country."This kind of talk and emotional response is found outside the stadium, neverinside. I and millions of others all over the world do believe in this ideal ofamateur sports. Let's keep politics out of the stadium and not make politiciansout of our athletes.
My wife had little use for what she termed my "Muscle-boundDigest."
That was beforethe first Winter Olympic issue and Toni Sailer. Now she beats me to my copy andkeeps mumbling something incoherent about "packing her skis and heading forKitzb√ºhel."
Thanks for theOlympics coverage and Toni Sailer. He deserves another gold medal forconverting my wife.
Louis A. SMITH
1ST LT., USAF
WO IST TONI?
Would it be possible for you to find Toni Sailer's address for me? Thank youvery much.
(MISS) BARBARA BOLLMAN
•Miss Bollman andthe 13 other Misses who have approached SI with the same thought in mind willfind Toni in Kitzb√ºhel, Austria.—ED.
I categorically forecast SI's Sportsman of Year 1956 as John Landy, Australia,who will again break the world mile mark, and Toni Sailer, Austria, whoprobably achieved a feat never again to be duplicated in Olympic skiingcompetition—three gold medals.
A. W. DE BAUN
NO ONE PUSHEDTONI
If it is true, as you indicated (E & D, Feb. 20), that our experts now feelthat our Olympic team members were not in good condition, I suggest that youfurnish said "experts" each with a copy of The Report That Shocked thePresident (SI, Aug. 15). The surprising thing to me is that our athletes wereable to buckle on their own skis, let alone climb the slopes of Cortina withouta couple of Italian Mountain Troopers pushing from behind.
Of course, manymembers of our squad were in poor condition! We Americans take the car to theski slope, latch on to a moving chair to take us up those little hills, shuffledown on our skis, drive home and slouch in front of the television set with acan of beer in our hands. And then we expect to meet the best athletes in theworld on even terms.
I do not knowToni Sailer, but I have known his village for 20 years. I can tell you this:Toni was not pushed around in a baby carriage; he toddled around on his own twolegs. He never had a car; he walked. He gets up early, he goes to bed early andhe does more physical work in a day than you and I do in a year simply by nothaving to rely on the stupid gadgets which clutter our lives.
He not only doesall this—he loves it. Our young people are not to blame for this degeneration.It is us oldsters who made false gods out of material comfort.
EARL M. KRIENLE
SI, Feb. 13 held a particular interest for me. I am referring to the young ladypictured above the caption "Pretty interpreter nearly stole the show fromathletes" (p. 23).
Could youpossibly tell me what her name is, and where I could write to her?
•Send your letterand SI will forward it. SI seems to have become a clearinghouse for Olympic fanmail. On hand are letters from Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary addressed toU.S. skaters as well as mail from American admirers of satellite stars.—ED.
Please put this little ad in SI once in a while: "WANTED: Young men withcharacter, dedication and a love for hard work, to be employed at home. Object:development of athletic ability."
ED H. GINN
In the wash of recent events at Cortina, Si's cartoon (Feb. 13) might beconsidered symbolic.
FRANK J. SALKOSKI
Fort Pierce, Fla.
NEXT WEEK, THEROXY
If the nasty little boys and girls and their dreary Moms who pester the skatingworld have "the right attitude to win," then I hope we send truesportsmen and women the next time and lose.
The Olympics arenot a stepping stone for the lead at the Roxy Ice Show.
M. ROBBIE DE VRIES
Those who follow the food habits of great sport figures through the eyes of SImust notice now and then the mention of the part that honey plays, whether togive Hillary the extra push or to help give Sailer that extra something he'sgot (SI, Feb. 13).
No doubt eachOlympic team member from the U.S. should have his honey along for maximumeffort.
C. H. REED
•Mr. Reed missedShotputter Parry O'Brien, of whom SI said (March 21): "From time to time hewill take a snort of liquid honey from a plastic bottle to accelerate hisenergy."—ED.
MEN OF PROVEDJUDGMENT
I would like this opportunity to compliment you on the excellent coverage ofsporting events and particularly of the Olympic Games. The article by AndreLaguerre (SI, Feb. 13) contains many truths, such as the intense rivalry amongskaters and their coaches and the possessiveness of skating mothers, but hisdescription of judges is misleading and could be very harmful to the sport.Figure-skating judges have undergone years of trial judging during which timetheir marks were critically examined by competent authorities. In addition,they must have proved their knowledge of skating and particularly theirimpartiality and lack of prejudice. They have come to expect a certain amountof criticism from fond but otherwise relatively uninformed parents, but todenounce them as "subject to prejudice—and not necessarily trueexperts" is very unfortunate. Surely their training and standards are farsuperior to the so-called judging seen in other events such as boxing.
DR. GORDON C. BROWN
USFSA Dance and Figure Judge
Ann Arbor, Mich.
At this time I cannot refrain from blaming you for reprinting the advertisementof Seagram which appeared in the official Olympic bulletin (E & D, Feb.13). Professor A. Herlitzca is quoted on only the first phase of the effect ofalcohol in the mountains. Due to the fact that "alcohol increases flow ofblood into the peripheric vessels of the derm," alcohol cools the blood andafter a short while one feels much colder than before and it does one much moreharm than good. Besides if les bobbeurs drink alcohol I quite understand, sincetheir success does not depend on physical fitness. Alcohol and true sport nevergo together.
•Toni Sailer,like many European skiers, drinks wine before and during competition; ChrisChataway, one of the world's great distance runners, is a convivial drinker,but Roger Bannister gives the best answer: "My ideal athlete is first andforemost a human being who runs his sport and does not allow it to run him. Heis not a race horse or a professional strong man. He drinks beer, he mightsmoke and listens to coaches when he feels inclined."—ED.
A NEW SPORT
Why not include lacrosse in future Olympic Games (HOTBOX, Feb. 20)? Between youand me, there are only two fast games: hockey and lacrosse. To make it better,if you would like to see some real action, put two lacrosse teams on skates.Then you'll see something.
Good as your The Lessons of Cortina was, I think that this short statement byBuff Donelli, quoted in the Boston Globe, gave me my clearest insight into theOlympics and really helped me get a 3-D picture of the Russians. Donelli said:"The Russians are good competitors. Put them into American uniforms and youwouldn't know the difference."
G. E. TORGESON
I agree with E & D, Feb. 20 that now that the 1956 Winter Olympic Games areconcluded, one continually hears people bemoaning the fact that Russia"won" the team title. Perhaps this is true according to an inefficientscoring system, but it is not true according to a system proposed in Si's 19THHOLE (Oct. 17, 1955). Tech Sergeant Chester L. Garner, USAF, proposed a systemwhereby .01 point would be taken off for each million population of thecountry. When SI printed the complete results (Feb. 13), I applied SergeantGarner's system. I was, however, forced to make one change. SI only printed theresults from first place to seventh place, and not from first to 10th.Therefore I applied the deductions to a 10-5-4-3-2-1 scoring system. SinceRussia has 220,000,000 people and Austria has only 7,000,000 persons, I findthat Austria "won" the team title. The results are:
[This articlecontains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
James Poling's excellent article, Team to Beat: The Pioneers! (SI, Feb. 13),was a splendid tribute to Joe Yancey, gentleman and coach.
It was mypleasure to know him for the past five years while representing his in-townrival, the NYAC. To those who have not been associated with him, even as afriendly rival, the story may have seemed a little idealistic. However, yourreporter captured the true spirit of the Pioneers which is really the "JoeYancey Club."
Here's a cheer for SI for its great article on the New York Pioneer Club.
Here's anotherfor all the Pioneers for putting into everyday use the principles that theUnited Nations are still fumbling with on a theoretical level!
Here's yetanother cheer for Joe Yancey, America's greatest track coach, unpaid andunglamorous, who again was overlooked in selections for the Olympic coachingjobs!
And here's afinal cheer for the person or group somewhere who should be convinced that thePioneers are as worthy a recipient of its surplus funds as any other deservinggroup that more actively seeks funds!
Whitney Tower's CONVERSATION PIECE: Subject: Dick Irvin (SI, Feb. 13) wasextremely interesting and informative.
I think readerswould be interested in finding out the results of Irvin's poll of what eachBlack Hawk thought of his performance against our Boston Bruins.
FRANCIS E. PARK III
•The Black Hawkswere miserably aware of their own shortcomings that night. Using Irvin's systemof scoring each player—3 for a star performance, 2 for good, 1 for fair andminus 1 for poor—the 17 players awarded themselves a disheartening 8 points outof a perfect 51. Irvin's tally: 6.—ED.
Last week it was my pleasure to watch a fine hockey game between the BlackHawks and the Canadiens, although the surroundings and a good number of Chicagofans were strictly Stone Age.
A group ofgorillas would have deported themselves in a more gentlemanly and sportsmanlikemanner. Thrown onto the ice during the course of the game were the followingitems: paper airplanes, can covers, newspapers, raw eggs, beer cans, Popsiclesticks, pennies, confetti, paper cups, gum.
No one wasejected from the stadium for these and other examples of clean living, Chicagostyle, which leads me to the following conclusions: 1) The rumor that Chicagohas a police department is untrue; 2) Andy Frain's ushers, who do a good job atWrigley Field, are merely gold-and-blue ornaments at the Chicago Stadium.
EDWARD B. ABELL
THE SOUTH ISREADY
I was very pleased to see E & D mention the Baltimore Clippers (SI, Feb.13). It is a wonderful feeling to know that they have found a home, at leasttemporarily, in Charlotte, N.C. The crowds being drawn to the ice-hockey gamesin the deep South only attest to the fact that a sport as exciting asprofessional ice hockey will draw crowds anyplace it goes.
I hope that theClippers will return to Baltimore as soon as a new ice rink is built. However,the interest shown by the people of Charlotte, N.C. shows that they and theSouth are ready for the best action-packed sport of them all, pro icehockey.
CAN THEY BEATSIME?
I can't help but disagree with you on certain comments that were made in E& D, Feb. 13 concerning sprinter David Sime. As an avid reader of yourpublication I must say I am disappointed in this attitude! Who could beat Sime?Well, to name a few: Jim Golliday, Bobby Morrow and Andy Stan-field. Golliday,the world record-holding 100-yard speedster from Northwestern University, is mypick to win the Olympic 100-meter dash. Sime will be lucky to make the NCAAfinals this spring.
•That's not anattitude, that's a conviction which we will hold until that dream race ofGolliday, Morrow and Stanfield is organized.—ED.
7. United States
12. The Netherlands
"It's a brand-new contest, folks...."