current AAU- South Africa fuss are some simple facts and a simple solution.
South Africa invited some of our track and field men to a meet there, and the
AAU is now checking with these athletes to see if they would like to go. This
is the way such international meets are normally arranged; the AAU does not
choose the athletes. The AAU cannot be held responsible for the
the South Africans are responsible. In the sprints, they did not invite Frank
Budd, Paul Winder or Stone Johnson; they snubbed quarter-milers Otis Davis and
Ted Woods and high jumpers John Thomas and Charles Dumas. They ignored hurdling
and broad jumping, thus eliminating Lee Calhoun, Willie May, Hayes Jones, Dick
Howard, Bo Roberson and Ralph Boston. All of these men—no surprise—are
The solution: the
AAU should inform the South Africans that if they pick and choose among events
and athletes in order to insure all-white competition, we will not send any
team at all.
In their drive
for world superiority in sports, the Russians have been especially eager to
achieve supremacy in basketball because it is the game Americans not only have
dominated for years but one we originated. Their plans called for an Olympic
victory in Rome, and when the U.S. easily won its fifth gold medal there, the
Russians started looking around for a scapegoat.
Last week in the
youth paper Komsomolskaya Pravda, Head Coach Stepan Spandarian was nominated as
chief villain. One of Spandarian's assistants put the finger on him, using such
language as "low level of discipline," "lack of courage,"
"inadequate tactical preparation."
The truth is that
Spandarian, a small, dignified man who insists on correct on-court behavior by
his players, has done a remarkable job of raising Russian basketball to a
respectable level of competence. A country that had no basketball tradition
just a few years ago is now the second or third best in the world. It is quite
conceivable that Russia would be a genuine threat to the U.S. in the 1964
Olympics if the continuity of coaching were maintained.
Spandarian will be fired. Russia's loss is our gain.
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