- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Carrots for Fitness
Next Week, in response to presidential proclamation, the United States celebrates National Youth Fitness Week. It would be agreeable to report that the celebrations will consist of a round of effortless push-ups by a citizenry 100% hale and hearty, but such is not quite the case. Like motherhood, physical fitness is held in universal high regard, but like the weather, it is more often discussed than perfected.
In the riven world of today, it is an encouraging fact that East and West alike recognize the vital dependence of national welfare on national health. There is, moreover, an apparent hearty agreement on both sides of the Iron Curtain that fitness cannot be achieved by proclamation alone, or even by dictatorial fiat. As the chief executive of a democratic people, President Eisenhower can do little more about the fitness of his nation than call attention to its lack and hope responsible citizens will take note. The fact that many Americans are doing so is amply attested by the story beginning on page 39 of this magazine.
Even on their side of the fence, however, Dictator Khrushchev and his predecessors have had to recognize the fact that a nation's health cannot be simply commanded. This recognition has given rise to a Soviet-wide sports program of enviable dimensions in which the people of Russia are urged rather than driven to greater fitness.
The most recent development in this program is the institution of a new Soviet award—the Commemoration Medal—which in Soviet sporting circles should be roughly tantamount to the Order of Lenin. It is given only to those Russian athletes who can better the proven best in their line. Vladimir Kuts, one of the first three Soviet athletes to earn the medal, set a world record for the 5,000-meter run of 13:35.0 in Rome in 1957, and any Russian hoping to win the medal in the future in that event must equal or better his record. The world's record for the 100-meter dash is 10.1 seconds; the Russian record 10.3. The new standard for Soviet medal winners will be 10.2. A decathlon man must pile up at least 8,000 points to win; a high jumper must equal the height of 7 feet� inch achieved by Yuri Stepanov, another pioneer medal winner.
It is the Soviet notion that many a little Russian boy will dream of wearing the medal of Kuts and Stepanov one day and busily build his biceps in preparation. By the same token, though a different award, many a kid in the U.S. dreams of hitting a ball like Ted Williams, and becomes a better and healthier school-teacher or stockbroker because of the dream.
It is up to a nation to provide the opportunity and the incentive, but only the individual can provide the body and the effort to keep fit. And though we may sometimes long to beat him into shape, the carrot of encouragement, as any dietician can tell you, is far richer in vitamins than the stick of enforcement. One doesn't go out to play for the sake of a fitter nation; one goes out to play, and a fitter nation follows.
Decision in Montana
Last Week the student body of the University of Montana fought it out in a campus demonstration of a major political decision—the sort of thing that happens everywhere, though often in less clear-cut terms. The football team of the University of Montana (3,300 students) has long remained in the cellar of the Skyline Conference. Last year it lost 9, won none. The rickety stadium holds only 10,000, and the losing teams didn't draw anyway. The football staff needs more money for football scholarships, among other things, if Montana is to get out of the cellar or, it might be, even remain in the conference. Montana's economic and political impasse—a development taking place everywhere—is that costs, even the costs of football scholarships, have been increasing while income has remained pretty fixed. Montana's athletic fund has been based on student activity fees of $10 a quarter. Of this, $4.80 went to athletics. Among athletic costs were 64 fairly parsimonious football scholarships.
Two weeks ago the athletic staff asked the college administration to increase the activity fee so that Montana could at least function under the same program as other schools in the conference. The request was turned down, but Acting President Gordon Castle suggested that the coaches sound out the student council about a student referendum on the issue. The election of new student-body officers was coming up in just eight days when the student council finally agreed to put an added proposition on the ballot: "Are you in favor of a $5 increase in student activity fees for athletics?"