In his recently published memoirs, General Matthew B. Ridgway, one of the 25 judges who this month will make the final selections for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S first Silver Anniversary All-America, writes of some values in sport he learned early and which have remained with him throughout his distinguished career.
Reflecting on his tours of western army posts as a boy with his father, Colonel Thomas Ridgway, he says:
Without knowing it, during my life in the western states I had absorbed from my father knowledge and skills that were to serve me well in later years as a field soldier. On hunting trips he taught me to take care of myself in the open, to bed down like a bear wherever night found me. He taught me to love the open country in all its myriad forms—mountain and plain, prairie, desert, and the seashore, and to make myself at home in them. One of the hardships that besets a soldier, therefore—the living outdoors in cold and rain and snow—never greatly bothered me, even in the gray gloom of the Ardennes, the wet and biting cold of Holland, or the often bitter temperatures of Korea.
My love for hunting and fishing, for sleeping under the stars, for hiking over the hills, transcends the atavistic yearning that is in all of us to get away from cities into cleaner air. For me, life in the open has always been a deep spiritual experience that cleanses the soul of doubts and fears. The intangible things in life are the most real, and my most vivid memories are not of battle action, nor of hard decisions made in a time of crisis, but of moods—of deep feelings stirred by the sight of snow gleaming on a far-off mountain peak, the leap of a trout in a stream, the radiance of moonlight on white plum blossoms, the rising of a blue-white star above dark hills.
In varying form, values and experiences like these are inherent in all sport. And General Ridgway's words explain most clearly not only why SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is proud to have him on its board of judges but also why SPORTS ILLUSTRATED feels it appropriate to look among football letter-men of 25 years ago for outstanding citizens of today.