No football coach
worthy of the name likes to lose games any more than his team or his fans do.
"I am in a losing situation," said Columbia's magnificently
unsuccessful Coach Buff Donelli recently, "and I would venture to say that
my boys are learning very little by constantly losing in the way of character
building." But there are those, possibly less intimately involved, who even
plump for losses. The president of sentimental Biggie Munn's own university has
gone on record as saying that one good losing year is a fine thing, and the
athletic director at Yale, whose gridmen have enjoyed their least distinguished
season in years, says bluntly: "I think, in a way, that it is very
encouraging that we have had such a bad time." His point, and a well-taken
one, was that Ivy League competition at least was the better for some show of
We don't suppose
for a moment that all of this will stop the fans from yelling for victories,
nor do we want them to. Nor, for the matter of that, do we intend to stop
ourselves. "We want a touchdown!" is a good and wholesome refrain. But
we can't help feeling a degree of compassion even for those coaches who deny us
the boon. "I'll say it affects you," said haggard Coach Hal Lahar,
speaking of losses in general after a four-game losing streak at the University
of Houston. "Fatigue, loss of weight, loss of sleep. You start putting so
much pressure on yourself, you can't think straight. Then you start putting
pressure on your assistants, and they start on the players, then—bang—the whole
thing blows up." It does seem a pity to hang a man in such straits, even in
effigy, but they hanged Hal anyway.
Maybe, when the
tide turns at last and the score starts rolling up again, even the coaches
forget the pains in their necks. "I've followed you and your Blue Devils
for years," wrote a student at Duke to Coach Bill Murray shortly after his
hanging at the end of a disastrous defeat by LSU. "Since I'm such a rabid
fan of yours, I know some of my classmates expected me to defend you, but I
don't think you need my defense. Your record of the past can stand for itself.
You're a coach. Nobody forced you to become one. You're there because you love
it, you love football and the youngsters who play it."
The letter was
signed Carolyn Kirky (Mrs. Bill) Murray, and we can think of nothing to add to
At one time, the
earth of the English Midlands made comfortable walking for Roman soldiers and
good building material for Roman roads. Now, less than 2,000 years later, the
same old soil plays a new part in the making of history; mixed in certain
proportion and treated in certain ways, it is the best surface known on which
to run the mile in less than four minutes or to break records in almost any
track event, from the 100-yard dash to the 10,000-meter run.
In the last few
years, hundreds of tons of the English Midlands have been dug up, shipped out
and spread onto running tracks in such places as Australia, Arabia and Ireland.
Now the next corner of a foreign field scheduled to be made forever England is
located—of all places—in Chicago, U.S.A.
The field is
Soldier Field, on the Chicago lake front, where the track and field events of
the Pan-American Games will be held next summer. Needing a good track for the
occasion, Chicagoans decided to get the best, and so they applied to the En
Tout Cas Co. of Leicester, England. Soon there appeared in Chicago a stocky,
middle-aged, businesslike English architect named Cecil George Jones, who
designs running tracks, cricket pitches, tennis courts and other sports
installations for the En Tout Cas Co.
"Our company is
nearly 50 years old," said Mr. Jones the other day, "but we didn't
really get cracking on mixing a special compound for tracks until just before
the Olympic Games were held in London in 1948. We put down a track in Wembley
Stadium which worked out very well. Since then we have improved our formula,
which of course is a secret.
Bannister ran the first under-four-minute mile on an En Tout Cas track at
Oxford. Now Cambridge has one too. There's one at Cardiff, where the Empire
Games were held last August, and we finished the one in Melbourne just two days
before the opening of the Olympic Games in 1956. The new track in Dublin [SI,
Aug. 18] is one of ours too."