FIT TO BE TIED
My husband and I agree with Mrs. Richard J. Ross (An Open Letter to Bud Wilkinson, Nov. 12) right down to the last comma. As parents of one who can, one who can't and one who can but won't excel in school athletics, we feel that there are acres of room for improvement.
MRS. WILLIAM C. OLSON
I absolutely refuse to countenance the thought that athletic standards must be lowered so that children who are not as accomplished as others can be accommodated. This is exactly the reverse of what we in this country are trying to teach through athletics. All children don't quit under the strain of competition; moreover, some are inspired even more because their goals mean so much to them.
The real physical problem is the child who is too small and too weak to participate in team sports. Some of these refuse to accept their lack of size and struggle indefinitely—getting nowhere. Others accept their size problems and revert to other sports—individual sports such as swimming, track and field and the like, where the individual is able to compete more successfully in his age group. Usually, these children succeed. Still other children overcome slight builds with speed and adroitness and do quite well with their larger counterparts.
There still remains, however, the child who just quits.
PETER C. XIQUES
Mrs. Ross blames the adults of today for a soft and flabby younger generation, which is most decidedly a just accusation. However, she implies that of all the adults, the physical education instructors should shoulder the biggest portion of blame. Her generalizations degrade a professional group which is working to fulfill President Kennedy's goal of insuring "that every American child be given the opportunity to make and keep himself physically fit."
The President's Council on Youth Fitness has discovered that kids who have had physical education do better in fitness tests than those who have not. Any dedicated physical educator develops a sound curriculum before organizing even a basic intramural program. And only after a strong intramural program has been established—one in which each student has adequate opportunity for activity—are extramurals or interscholastic sports even considered.
No, Little League is not the answer to the physical fitness problem. Nor is blaming the physical educators a solution. The fitness of today's children will be improved only by a united effort on the part of all adults to: 1) insist that each child have a minimum of 30 minutes of activity in school each day, 2) make certain that sound physical education curricula and extensive intramural programs are established before interscholastic schedules, 3) enlarge the summer playground programs where every child who wants to participate has an opportunity and 4) stress the importance of fitness through family activities.
MRS. GAIL FANTA
It is always "our boy" would have made the team "if." It should be "our boy" is not good enough to make the team. Most of us, even as spectators, are unable to take defeat and, therefore, we surely will find something on which to place the blame, even the weather. President Kennedy never said every child should endeavor to make the team, he merely emphasized the indifference of our youth to making any team.
We have always been a highly competitive nation, and we are now in an even more competitive world. We must wake up to the fact that we cannot all be winners, but it is still our right to challenge.
GEORGE J. MEYER II
I realize that Mrs. Ross's letter was addressed to Bud Wilkinson. However, since I am not only a mother of two boys but also the wife of a physical education teacher and a coach, I feel qualified to make a reply and at the same time offer a suggestion or two.