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Original Issue


Every year we have the comparative-score oddities, such as A beats B, B beats C, C beats D, and D beats A. The following warped logic is a little different, but the highly doubtful conclusion may make Big Ten fans feel good. The following scores are all from the first seven weeks of play 1962:

Illinois 14, Purdue 10
Purdue 26, Iowa 3
Iowa 28, Oregon State 8
Oregon State 51, West Virginia 22
West Virginia 15—Pittsburgh 8
Pittsburgh 8, UCLA 6
UCLA 9, Ohio State 7
Ohio State 14, Wisconsin 7
Wisconsin 17, Notre Dame 8
Notre Dame 13, Oklahoma 7
Oklahoma 13, Kansas 7
Kansas 29, Iowa State 8
Iowa State 57, Colorado 19

It is now perfectly clear (?) that Illinois, which last year lost all of its games and finished last in the Big Ten, should beat Colorado, last year's Big Eight champion, by 174 points this year. Any questions?
Lincoln, Neb.

Big Ten versus California football has been a hot subject for some time now. Virtually everyone with an opinion, except a few western provincials, will tell you that over the years the Big Ten has made mincemeat of California football, and only occasionally has a Golden State team been lucky enough to meet a weaker Big Ten group.

Why hasn't anyone referred to the record book to find out the real story?

Except for one game the "modern" rivalry began back in 1930. California teams have played present and former Big Ten schools 101 times. Including the Rose Bowl the Big Ten has won 50 of these games, California schools have beaten the Big Ten 44 times, and seven games have ended in a tie. This is hardly a recipe for mincemeat. There is no doubt the Big Ten was far stronger from 1955 through 1961, especially when the California schools were reeling with penalties, but the pendulum has been on the other side and will be again.
Arcadia, Calif.

After reading the article on the Dallas Cowboys by Tex Maule, I would like to ask a question: How can a team with a current record of three wins, three losses and one tie, in fourth place behind the Redskins and Giants and Browns, be considered a serious title contender? Could the real reason for the article be to divert attention away from the competing Dallas Texans, who are currently leading the AFL and out-drawing the Cowboys at the Cotton Bowl by a considerable amount?

Ever since the inception of the AFL in 1960, Maule has demonstrated a marked disdain for it and at every turn has jumped on the NFL bandwagon. This article is but another example.
Schenectady, N.Y.

We are charter members of the SI club, and enthusiastic ones. After enjoying Mr. Boyle's article, we undertook an inventory of our own and the results are amazing. Since we are a schoolteacher's family, we are not one of those "affluent metropolitan households"! This is the result of two children and 26 years: 3 complete sets of golf clubs and carts, assortment of golf balls, 6 fishing rods and reels, 2 tackle boxes, 2 baseball bats, 1 glove, 1 mitt, 1 baseball, 1 football, 1 basketball, 1 basket and backboard, 1 softball, 2 hockey sticks and puck, 2 sets shin guards, 4 boxing gloves, 1 badminton set, 1 horseshoes set, 6 pairs of skates (figure and hockey), 2 pairs of snowshoes, 2 sleds, 4 sets ski equipment, car ski rack, ping-pong table and equipment, 2 bicycles, 3 rifles, 2 shotguns, 3 tennis rackets, 1 water skiing equipment, complete camping outfit: tent, tarp, 4 sleeping bags, etc., etc.

All this presupposes the proper boots, shoes, gloves, jackets, hats and underwear.
Bangor, Me.

It's almost impossible to compliment the Rev. Richard A. McCormick, S.J., without tossing a similar bouquet at SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (Is Professional Boxing Immoral?, Nov. 5). I can't recall having ever read such a scholarly dissertation on this controversial subject, nor one by such an eminent professor. Father McCormick has saturated his discussion with "heavy" and, to the layman, often laborious theological terminology—a natural course for a theologian to take—but he approaches the question as systematically as one would approach any theological "abstraction." SPORTS ILLUSTRATED deserves much credit for not holding him to the "10-minute sermon" limit.

There are moments, however, when Father McCormick allows his topic to stray out of focus, I think. He uses the term "instinct" a bit too loosely in discussing the fighter's own moral outlook. A prominent psychologist (McDougall) once listed 13 basic instincts, including aggression. In general, most of these 13 so-called instincts have been refuted. There are few true instincts. Aggressiveness is probably closer to a conditioned reaction. To say that the primary aim of boxing is to inflict physical damage is questionable. It is almost inconceivable that a fighter intends to inflict damage at all, but rather strives to win. Many fighters pray for the safety of themselves and of their opponents prior to each bout. He hopes for a way to render his opponent only temporarily helpless, never to inflict permanent injury. We know of football coaches who delight in outlasting the opposition through unnecessary piling-on, rather than strategy; but such a coach does not reflect the feelings of the majority who seek the winning score. The fighter who seeks to permanently injure is almost unknown.

It seems to me that the main argument must center around just how much "dehumanizing" results from damage inflicted by blows to the head. If any person is handicapped to the point of being even slightly less than completely human, is not this enough to justify the abolition of my favorite sport? Maybe any sport that "dehumanizes" should be declared immoral. Or perhaps the sport should be restricted to highly skilled boxers (like Harold Johnson and Eddie Machen) who make boxing more of the manly art of self-defense.

Ironically, in stark contrast to Father McCormick's skilled and intellectual approach, your 19TH HOLE carries an emotional outburst from a reader who blames his Golden Gloves participation for a "temper that frequently gets out of control." I, for one, prefer more thoughtful arguments like Father McCormick's. (I'm an Episcopal priest.)
Los Angeles

Father McCormick dealt with the problem of professional boxing on a thoughtful and intellectual level. His argument against boxing, as immoral, is superb. Hooray for Father McCormick!
Monterey, Calif.

If this is typical of the theological discussion on boxing, it is no surprise a great deal of confusion exists. Rather than attempting to judge boxing as a whole, the subject has been separated into various elements: amateur vs. professional, skilled contests vs. slugfests, championships vs. tanktown matches, and even blows to the head vs. body blows. Other aspects are also considered, such as the effects of boxing on the character and financial status of the contestant and the brutality of a fight crowd.

In doing this, the theologian may pass moral judgment on certain fights, or certain rounds, or even certain blows. He, however, is no closer to a moral judgment of boxing as he has merely removed individual parts from the context in order to be able to judge them by previously accepted moral standards. Any immorality he finds is not so because it is a part of boxing, but because it is immoral in itself.

Were the theologian to view boxing divorced from its effects, both good and bad, I believe he would find the act itself completely moral and justifiable as a sport. While disabling an opponent is usually the direct intention of a boxer, this disablement is not intended to be, and in the great majority of cases is not, either harmful or permanent. Also personal hatred for an opponent is practically nonexistent among boxers.

Finally, the claim that boxing fosters brutality in its participants should be challenged strongly. The opposite effect is more generally the case.
Los Angeles

If professional boxing today is immoral due to its explicit purpose (injury) and usual influence on moral values (fostering of brutish instincts), this immorality could very well apply to amateur boxing as well as professional. It is the individual boxer, amateur or professional, who displays in the ring those personal qualities upon which theologians pass judgment.

Here is what I think must be done if professional boxing is to bring forth the creative qualities that ennoble rather than degrade man:

1) Strict supervision of all aspects of boxing is a necessity. Besides insuring the boxer's physical well-being in the ring with proper rules, the government or some trustworthy agency should insure his well-being out of the ring and in the community by keeping him free from underworld influences.

2) Research could be done on boxing equipment which, along with careful supervision by the referee, would protect the fighter from the more serious head injuries, while allowing for an exciting match demanding of skill and endurance.

3) Finally, the true spirit of sportsmanship must be instilled in both the participants and the spectators. This is being done by Father McCormick and other theologians as they seek to make the values of the Judeo-Christian tradition the foundation of all relationships of man to man and man to God.
Oxford, Ohio

I agree with your opinion ("A Matter of Opinion," SCORECARD, Nov. 5) that boxing should be continued, but I think that boxing should be turned over to some kind of government committee to run it. In that way there would be fewer scandals and it would remove most of the criminals that dominate the sport.

At the moment boxing is an extremely uninteresting sport. With the right people running it, it could once again gain national interest.
New York City

You conclude your own statement on the morality of boxing by saying, "Many a fighter will tell you how much good, not evil, it did him."

I feel Father McCormick could easily answer this by showing you your confusion of terms. The good which you speak of above is the good that derives to the individual, but not necessarily to his sport as a whole. What the fighter is expressing is only self-evident: that we act for a good, whether it is an apparent or true one. Surely the fighter will not engage in boxing because of the evil that will befall him, but rather because of the good (subjective) he sees in it and will experience from it.

Thus the question is still unanswered.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with Father McCormick's views on the moral implications of professional boxing as it is today, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is to be complimented for printing them in its columns.
Rochester, N.H.

Regarding the letter written by Mr. Carl Schmidt (19TH HOLE, NOV. 5) in which he blames his quick temper on his having taken boxing while in high school, certainly he can go a step further and blame boxing for his catching cold during the winter, sleeplessness when he stays up late and all those things that boxing definitely is a direct cause of.
Orono, Me.