I was deeply moved by The President Who Loved Sport (Dec. 2). Not by what you said of the physical condition of President Kennedy or his attitude toward sport. I already knew that. But by the way in which the author described his concern with the "spectating" American. Your editorial will become a permanent part of my coaching portfolio, and the memories of this great American a permanent part of my life.
MACK C. WIEBE
Chula Vista, Calif.
The article giving the views of your 1963 Silver Anniversary award winners on football today was interesting (A Very Hard Look at Football, Dec. 2), but the remarks of one of the former greats, Dr. Martin Hilfinger, should not go unchallenged. "I'm not aware of any college seeking out prospective top scholars," he says. Where has this man been since the beginning of the "sputnik age"?
I suggest Dr. Hilfinger consult the nearest metropolitan daily on or about Sept. 25, 1963 and look over the list of National Merit Scholarship semifinalists, select a couple and contact them or their parents. He will, I am sure, get the surprise of his life. Most, if not necessarily all, colleges solicit top scholars, and in a most dignified manner. As the father of one of these semifinalists, I am in a position to know.
WALTER M. FENTON
Your silver goal-post winner, Brigadier General John W. Dobson, disapproving of the "hypocrisy" and professionalism in college football, says that "Except for the Ivy League and the military academies, the football team does not belong to the student body," implying that only in these institutions does it remain strictly "amateur." Yet, on another page of this same issue (A Setting for Greatness at Philadelphia) we learn that Midshipman Roger Staubach went to New Mexico Military Institute, and 23 other Navy players attended preparatory schools, all with the help of something called the Naval Academy Foundation; that Guard Fred Marlin played for Western Maryland as far back as 1958 (and will still be playing for Navy in 1964).
It is widely known that the military academy follows the same practice and, in addition, pursues the quaint custom of taking athletes out of high school before they graduate to prepare them for the rigors of military life at a "cram" school.
All coaches are aware that the three service academies have a well-organized and aggressive system of national recruiting, with a head start on all other recruiters since they have a built-in system of financing athletic talent. The education of all midshipmen and cadets is paid for by the nation's taxpayers.
I read recently in another magazine that "Rog" failed to pass the Naval Academy entrance examination. If indeed he (and the 23 others) were "not there to play football," would the good-hearted old Naval Academy Foundation have financed his high-school education? Brigadier General Dobson, who mentions the Ivy League and the military academies in the same breath regarding football, is apparently ignorant of the activities at Annapolis.
J. MICHAEL KITCH
I have never read a more inane or inaccurate article than the one on Springfield College by Robert H. Boyle (Spirit, Mind, Body, Dec. 2).
I am not a Springfield graduate, but the article pictured a bunch of polite, brainless, sexless, inept athletes going around saying "Hi" to everyone.
I would think an apology to Springfield College is in order.
JAMES A. DOERING, M.D.
I want to thank you for Robert Boyle's splendid article on our college. It is done with enough delightful humor, interlaced with a grasp of what we take to be essential, to give it what every Springfield graduate will recognize as "authenticity." Boyle's fine sense of the spirit of the place that seeks to blend physical, mental, moral fitness in the service of others is most remarkable, and all of us appreciate the sensitivity with which your story is done.
My only concerns with the story, all of which could be corrected by a word, pale by comparison with my appreciation for the article as a whole. They have to do with our three prime publics—the academic community, the supporting public and our board. The first concerns the phrase "potted ivy" to describe our liberal arts neighbors for whom I have the highest regard and the finest relationship. I do hope they do not feel this is our value judgment! The second concern is the suggestion that I sought the development of arts and sciences to increase our chance of support. This may follow as a consequence, but is farthest from my mind as the reason, though I am quoted here. I sought this development, because no man can be a leader of youth in our time who does not have a broader and deeper grasp of the nature of man, human history, other cultures and the arts and sciences that underscore the nature and significance not only of mind and spirit, but body and sport as well. Finally, the suggestion that the Chief Massasoit exercise was abandoned because of the board's fear of paganism is, so far as I know, pure fabrication, whoever may have told you, and I feel sure our board would deny this to the man. Indeed, as you say, they have fought this narrow sectarianism from the beginning.
In a day of cynicism about youth, you have helped the world know there is still a place turning out wholesome, healthy and dedicated young people committed to a life of leadership and service. It will encourage them to know there are many who desire to be part of the solution and not the problem.
The tragic events of the past few days, involving our President, who was a member of our board and who had deep convictions about our purposes, only underscore the importance of what we are trying to do in our modest way. You have helped us in a difficult day and task, and we are grateful. George Wood is right; it does seem easier to get money for putting a missile on the moon than to educate leaders who know how to get a man out of a boy.
President, Springfield College
I think teaching young men and women to play ring-around-a-rosy is just as important as teaching young men how to travel to the moon. If I had not believed this I would not have spent the best years of my life in teaching kids to play. Robert Boyle has said exactly what I would have liked to say. Thank you very much.
RALPH S. CUMMINGS
ONLY MAN O' WAR
I am afraid I disagree with the title of Whitney Tower's interesting article, Move Over, Man o' War (Nov. 11). It might better have been: Move Over, Exterminator. I am the son of the late Commander J.K.L. Ross, owner of Sir Barton, who was the first winner of the Triple Crown. I was in my late teens at that time and therefore knew Man o' War and Exterminator well. As you must be aware, it is almost impossible to compare the greatness of today's Thoroughbreds with those of the near or distant past. The yardsticks of money earned and time records are useless. Sir Barton's Triple Crown earnings totaled a mere $57,000, while Man o' War's lifetime total was just under $250,000! Furthermore, time records in any sport are made to be broken. This is particularly true of racing. The improvement in track conditions alone since the early 1920s has been phenomenal. Man o' War retired with five American time records to his credit, at distances from one mile to 1‚Öù miles. All these have long since been eclipsed.
In my humble opinion, however, there are two almost infallible yardsticks for the assessment of true greatness: the racing record of the horse himself and the class of his contemporaries whom he met in competition. Man o' War went to the post on 21 occasions. He was narrowly and unluckily beaten only once. He could run in any kind of going, and on several occasions he carried very high weight.
To date, Kelso has faced the starter 45 times. He has been beaten in no fewer than 14 of these starts! Apparently, he does not run as well on grass as on the dirt.
Man o' War opponents were of the highest caliber. He defeated such outstanding horses as Sir Barton, John P. Grier, Upset, Wildair, Blazes and On Watch. In the Potomac Handicap at Havre de Grace in September, 1920, he carried 138 pounds and defeated Wildair, to whom he was conceding 30 pounds, Blazes and Paul Jones. This contest was one of the most amazing performances I have ever witnessed.
The class of Kelso's numerous opponents has also been high. But, as already stated, some of them have beaten him!
I would like, therefore, to change your statement to read: "Kelso belongs at the very top of the list of great geldings, on the same pedestal as Exterminator and Armed. But Man o' War still stands alone."
New York City
•The much publicized match race between Sir Barton and Man o' War at Kenilworth Park, Oct. 12, 1920, proved to be Big Red's last race. The interest of the fans and the prize ($75,000 and a $5,000 gold cup) were high, but Sir Barton (who was to carry 126 pounds) was not up to his best form, and Man o' War had threatened to bow a tendon a month before. Nevertheless Big Red, carrying 120 pounds, ran in front all the way and won by seven lengths in the track-record time for 1¼ miles of 2:03, 6[2/5] seconds faster than the old record.—ED.