PLAYING FOR PAY
Your quotation of Coach Glen Rose regarding the buyability of a recruited basketball player (SCORECARD, May 22) reminds me of a statement by the great William Lawrence, late Bishop of Massachusetts.
Opposing—in the 1920s, I think it was—some measure to promote professional sports, he said, "Always remember, gentlemen, that if you pay someone to win in an athletic competition, somebody else may pay him more to lose."
From the vantage point of more than 30 years in tennis (currently as teaching pro at the Indies House in Duck Key, Fla.) I have watched the decline and fall of my own favorite sport. Tennis—and I include the Kramer pros as well as the players under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association—is moving closer and closer to oblivion because of the lack of understanding of those who run it. The game has been permitted to drift along with dreamers at the tiller. It seems a shame to condemn the gentlemen who attempt to guide the destiny of tennis. I have known and been friends with most of these men since 1928, when I first made the Davis Cup team. Every one of them has been or is a successful businessman. But if they ran their businesses in the same manner as they direct tennis they'd have been on skid row long ago.
At the moment we have a lack of good players, a lack of money in the USLTA treasury and a definite lack of supervision of our Davis Cup team both as to how to play and how to act.
Our team acted like spoiled brats in Australia, and little wonder; with the easy money, the worldwide publicity, the back-slapping and handshaking, the glory of personal recognition, they began to think the world was made for them. But at the first sign of a reverse, with no training to meet a difficult situation, they were unable to conduct themselves in the spirit in which Davis first presented the trophy.
Can this alltime low morale be blamed entirely on a group of young men still in their teens? Of course not. The arrow points right straight back to the men who head the USLTA. Tennis needs desperately a guiding hand that has absolute authority in the same manner that Judge Landis controlled baseball. There have been no such things as amateur tennis players in the true sense of the word, so why try to force on the public such a hallucination—especially when it is very plain they're not having any of it.
Two types of tournaments should be offered. First, the one that is most in demand these days, namely, the open. This puts the cards on the table—play for money—everyone knows what the prize is and it's the devil take the hindmost.
The second type of tournament should be one in which no expenses or prize monies are paid. This will be the true amateur event. Everyone pays his own expenses. And therein lies the difference between this amateur tournament and the ones that are being held today. No pretense, no sham, no deceit, money never enters the picture—just a bunch of guys trying to find out who's the best tennis player. Sounds refreshing, doesn't it?
Duck Key, Fla.
In recent months you have had interesting articles by Mike Agostini (Jan. 30) and Phil Coleman (March 6) on the pros and cons of accepting payment for competing in track and field meets, articles on Arnold Palmer, Sportsman of the Year 1960, and the second major bribe scandal in college basketball, still under investigation. Actually, a common thread runs through them all: the rise of professionalism and decline of amateurism in athletics in the U.S.
Estimated participation figures indicate that more people are playing tennis and golf, bowling, boating, swimming, skin-diving and water skiing than ever before. The number of professionals in these sports compared to the total is extremely small.