MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
The contrast President Kennedy points out between our top athletes and the rest of our young people (see page 12) is a poignant commentary on our "star system" in sport, a system in which only those who are physically fit to make the team are, in the end, physically fit.
There is something in the American character that does not respond warmly to regimented drill, as in mass displays of gymnastics common to other nations, and it is just possible that that may be all to the good. There is also something in the American sporting culture that tends to distinguish meanly between athletes who are "heroes" and hackers who are "bums," to regard anything less than a four-minute mile, these days, as an inferior performance. The good hard try does not make headlines.
Well, it never did. But it still does give satisfaction to those who make the try. The fun and value of sport does not lie so much in the winning as in the playing. The winning is the whipped cream on the strawberries. But who is to deny the sweetness of the strawberries? And that's where the vitamins are.
The problem of how to sell our children this concept begins in the grammar schools, where physical fitness at present is a sometime thing, emphasized only at the whim of an occasional enlightened principal. It extends to the high schools, where the star system starts because the ambitious high school coach knows that development of stars is his surest ticket to the college big time . It reaches its ultimate in the colleges, which must constantly police each other against violations of the vaguely denned and vastly permissive recruiting rules.
Sport needs its stars, of course, as inspirational symbols of excellence. But America needs millions of good, rugged kids who will grow into good, rugged men and women.
THE DEADLY SHORELINE
Tricks to deceive fish are numerous enough to fill an encyclopedia and some of them even work. The latest is now fooling fish—and snakes and humans—on Falcon Lake, Texas.
Noting that professional guides paint their boats in drab, inconspicuous colors, Marvin Williams, past president of the Dallas Anglers' Club, decided to go them one better.
"Why not camouflage the boat to look just like the shoreline of a lake?" he asked himself. He hired a sign painter, who airbrushed on a basic aquamarine color, added lily pads, tree stumps, cattails and brownish grass.
"I would say our first trip out was quite a success," Williams said. "I went to exactly the same place on Falcon Lake where I'd failed before. I not only got the bass and came up with better catches than anyone around me, but I got a heck of a lot of them close to the boat. But the fish weren't all that we fooled. We were setting up to cast in a cove when boats would just come tearing in toward us. Then they'd get close enough to see that that wasn't shoreline—it was a 16-foot boat. 'What ya got that stuff on your boat for?' they'd ask and I'd answer, 'You just answered your own question.'
Falcon Lake is noted for its snakes, which is why Williams keeps a .410 shotgun in his boat. The other day he had to use it on a snake that he saw swimming toward the boat, obviously with the intention of going ashore among those very attractive cattails.
THE ARTIST AS SPORTSMAN
William Faulkner died last week at the age of 64. We on this magazine have a particular sense of loss: when we began William Faulkner was among our first contributors. He set a standard of quality in his writing for these pages, especially on the Kentucky Derby, whose influence we like to feel still persists. He was unfailingly patient, conscientious, helpful and, in a quiet, almost retiring way, inspired in getting the maximum journalistic value from the events that he wrote about.
His major works were, of course, his intense and tragic novels, but he was a master at evoking the sights and sounds of the stables and the tracks, the amiable democracy of fishing camps, the cold November woods where a boy could shoot his first deer, or a fox hunt in the Mississippi hills with the dry, wild sound of the pine trees and the ringing, bell-like call of the hounds echoing among the trees where the hunters waited motionless on their horses in the frosty moonlight. Of William Faulkner's writing on sport it can be said confidently that it was the most light-hearted and engaging of all his work, the creation of someone who was far from finished, a beginning rather than an end.
SHOEMAKER LEAVES HIS LAST
The Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League—or those of them residing in the Twin Cities area during the summer—played the Whitaker Buick softball team of St. Paul the other day. The Vikings won at softball, 11-8, but could do no better than a 6-6 tie in a game of touch football.
ALWAYS AN ENGLAND
Major Clark (Spots) Leaphard, one of four Britons who had been captured by Communist guerrillas in southern Laos, returned to London the other day. For a month Leaphard had been marched through the jungle with a rope about his neck. From time to time he and his fellow captives would be hog-tied and forced to kneel before their captors who, while peasants watched and listened, harangued and threatened to kill them.
But after a while the guerrillas tired of the propaganda game. The ropes around the prisoners' necks were retained merely as symbols. The prisoners just tucked the ends of the ropes into their pockets and roamed the villages freely. One day one of them picked up a bamboo stick and a lump of charcoal and suggested: "How about cricket?"
And so, deep in the Laotian jungle, Communist guerrillas were introduced to a game that has sustained the spirits of Britons wherever they have been.
"Our captors didn't know how to play but wanted to learn," Major Leaphard reported. "They were very friendly and seemed to like the game. But whether they'll take it up permanently I couldn't say." In any event, they'll never be the same again.
This is the season when harness-racing fans have their ears cocked forward for tips on The Hambletonian, the sport's premier event, which will be raced August 29 at Du Quoin, Ill. We can provide a couple of tips, having just had a look at the best Hambletonian 3-year-olds at Roland Harriman's Goshen meeting (SI, July 9). The first is that the fillies are very much ahead of the colts at this point and are a fair bet to remain so until The Hambletonian. The second is that Safe Mission, the best 2-year-old colt last year, has gone rank on Driver Joe O'Brien and may not mend his manners in time to outtrot a big, strong Hoot Mon colt named A. C.'s Viking.
If The Hambletonian were held tomorrow, our $2 would be on the nose of Impish, the mischievous wonder filly who trotted a 1:58[3/5] mile at Lexington last fall and easily breezed away from a first-rate filly field at Goshen in 2:02[4/5]—a record for the Coaching Club Trotting Oaks. In a second heat she was overtaken in the stretch by her brilliant stablemate, Sprite Rodney, but managed to come on and nip her at the wire. It appeared that Driver Frank Ervin, with the hard campaign ahead in mind, had Impish under a cautiously stout hold. As for A. C.'s Viking, he had two rough trips—once going three horses wide in the clubhouse turn—yet won both his heats with power and authority.
A TIME FOR WEEPING
Ask the man who owned one and you'll see tears in his eyes. It's a rare minor business page announcement that stimulates regret for lost youth, but last week the news that the name Packard has been lopped permanently from Studebaker-Packard Corporation brought a painful twinge to many an old beau.
The first Packard was built in 1899 at Warren, Ohio. In its peak year the company built 109,000 cars. There still are some 200,000 registered Packards tooling around, but production of them wheezed to a final end four years ago.
An older sister remembers, misty-eyed, that the open Packard, along with the Stutz Bearcat and Mercer roadster, was one of the top girl-bait automobiles of all time. "No equipage, not even the golden coronation carriage of the British royal family," she said, choosing her words with solemn care, "ever gave a girl the feeling of absolute swank that she got from sitting behind the hinged tonneau windshield of a phaeton, as it purred elegantly down the main street of town with the wind blowing free through her shingled bob."
Even the old Packard showroom had elements of magic. "You didn't just glance in the window," she said. "You spent time admiring the sturdy trunk rack, the massive headlights, the voluptuous feel of the heavy Safe-T-Grip steering wheel, the dashing custom-nickeled wire wheels, the snazzy spare in its canvas shield, the slick flowing line of the mudguards and adjoining running board, the yielding, sensuous feel of the chaste brown-leather upholstery."
And now the Packard is no more. Farewell, sweet Packard. Goodby, dear old girl bait. This isn't the right world for you, anyway.
THEY SAID IT
•Golfer Jack Nicklaus, asked if he wanted some of the crowd moved after his tee shot stopped alongside a tree: "Never mind the people. Just move this tree a few feet to the left."
•Roy Harris, knocked out by both Floyd Patterson and Sonny Liston: "If Patterson comes in under 185 and has his good combos going, I give him a chance. If he comes in at 190 or more, I think Liston will knock him out."
•Vince Lombardi, Green Bay Packer coach, on Halfback Paul Hornung's release from the Army: "If Hornung doesn't show up in August, I don't think I will either."
•Houston Colt Manager Harry Craft, on letting Rookie Ernie Fazio play his first full game: "When you buy a new suit, do you wear it or do you hang it in the closet?"
•Paul (Daffy) Dean, expressing a preference for watching football over baseball: "All baseball did for me was to ruin my cotton-pickin' career."
•Detroit Pitcher Hank Aguirre, explaining why he was murmuring "Two for three" after hitting a single: "Two hits in three years."