Skip to main content
Original Issue



Children used to chant, "Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, doctor, lawyer, Indian chief," but nowadays picking a job is more complicated. Motivational research boys run around trying to analyze occupational yearnings.

Recently, The Center for Research in Marketing, of Peekskill, N.Y., showed a thousand men illustrations of six males in dress suitable to their professions: a jet pilot wore a flying suit, mask and helmet; a doctor in white examined an X-ray picture; a laborer held a welding torch; a businessman hugged a bulky brief case; a gentleman in tails and top hat carried a cane and puffed nonchalantly on a cigarette; and a sportsman in sports shirt and jacket leaned on a fishing pole.

The researchers asked each of their thousand guinea pigs which man he would like to be. To their astonishment—but not to ours—by far the greatest number wanted to be the man with the fishing pole. (Practically nobody wanted to be the laborer.) Many said they did not want to be the socialite because it was such hard work. The businessman and the doctor were in a dead heat for second, and the jet pilot finished fifth, such work being considered too dangerous.

What were those thousand citizens doing when they were not daydreaming? Were any of those who did not want to go fishing actually fishing for a living? And when a socialite was cornered did he say wistfully, "I've always wanted to be a welder"? We don't know, and The Center for Research in Marketing isn't saying.

But William Capitman, president of the Peekskill polling outfit, has tried to explain the fisherman's attraction: "There is a very great appeal to the idea of a carefree existence symbolized by the sportsman." One of his more sociological spokesmen has put it this way: "Men who no longer bring home the bacon but a paycheck instead are looking for more direct methods of asserting masculinity."

To which we say: Carefree masculinity has ways of expressing itself and the sporting life needs no apology. Millions of men and women, often wiser than the people who analyze them, find sport important, and they work hard at it. Take ex-President Herbert Hoover, for example. On his 86th birthday last week, Mr. Hoover said that he works 10 hours a day, seven days a week and keeps eight secretaries busy. To break this rigorous schedule, Mr. Hoover occasionally goes dry fly fishing for brook trout or bonefishing along the Florida flats. "This," he said, "is the most satisfactory phase of my life."

Mr. Hoover wasn't kidding. His present energy and past accomplishments should reassure the men who chose the fishing pole. They can go fishing without guilt.


When Wilt Chamberlain quit basketball last March 24, he made remarks about race prejudice and his previous condition of servitude (better than $60,000 a year). When he signed a contract to return to the Philadelphia Warriors on August 10, he said he was doing it for the good of his fellow Negroes. He did not mention money, but Eddie Gottlieb, Warriors' owner, did. He refused to say how much Wilt the Stilt was going to get under his new three-year contract but he made it clear that Wilt would be the highest-paid team player in sports. Chamberlain said: "The decision...was made to assure everyone that I won't...remake decisions at the end of each season."

We are glad to hear it, and we hope that now Wilt will go back to playing basketball as superbly as he has in the past and stop playing Hamlet. When, like Sarah Bernhardt, he said farewell in March only to return in August, the 7-foot-1 star claimed he was pushed around by opponents and referees because he is a Negro. There was no substantiation of these charges, which impugned reputable men, and it now appears that they were either inflated or baseless—a view given support by Wilt's decision to sign up for three years (and more money). We feel that any opponent or referee who discriminates against a Negro player dishonors sport. But we also feel that a Negro who makes exaggerated claims of prejudice does a disservice to his own people.