I must confess I looked down my nose a bit at the English method of training their teams and conducting competitive athletics at the college level when I was in attendance at the university. However, in later years, as I have observed the intense specialization, as well as the commercializing of our collegiate sports here in the U.S., I have sometimes wondered if the English system, in the final analysis, might not be a better training athletically for a greater number of our American young men.
HUDSON MOORE JR.
As an old Oxonian, I too have run along the towpath watching Toggers in the cold winds at the start of Hilary term. And Eights Week from the Balliol barge. It's too bad Allan Seager didn't go out for Rugger, for then he could have described that mild little parlor game: the fair-headed, bare-headed English boys, in shorts. No helmets and other heavily armed equipment. And no cheering, no vulgar excitement, only now and again a well-bred voice from the bleachers saying—not shouting—"Aoh, well played, Oxford!" or "Well fallen, Cambridge!"
Also when he was describing the public baths in Merton Street he should have told about the crocodile of little schoolboys on Saturday mornings, carrying their towels, a follow-the-leader line with a master in front. One of my Australian Rhodes scholar friends used to stroll down the High from his digs to Magdalen, his college, for a bath, wearing a bright-figured dressing gown, his towel slung around his neck like a scarf, the way the undergrads wear their little black gowns. And nobody ever turned to look at him twice! That is Oxford!
It all re-creates itself vividly as I read. As if I could put the clock back. As if the Australian Rhodes scholar I just mentioned had not been killed in the war—a very brilliant young man, who had been elected a Fellow of All Souls. As if others had not died, or been lost touch with. As if the dons, my tutors, had not grown old or retired—Mr. Ridley, now living in Bristol, sometimes lecturing over the BBC. A year or so after I was at home again, teaching—yes, I was one of that breed Allan Seager despised, but I didn't ride among the flocks of bicycles traveling up and down the High behind the red buses, and my clothes were bought in Boston, Mass., not from Webber's or Elliston's—I ran into an American Rhodes scholar I had known and we talked Oxford, and I asked if he didn't want to go back (I had been back that summer), and he said, "No—too many ghosts!" which is how I feel now, between laughing and remembering.
But I am delighted with the article! I'd also like to mention that, in my own old age, I have become a Boston Celtics fan, and I read with great interest those articles on the NBA. I hate to face the fact that the Lakers may be the new dynasty. But I had to listen to a game where they pretty well trounced the Celtics. I want to think of Bob Cousy and Bill Russell as invincible and immortal (immortal in the literal sense of existing forever just as they are now). Then I have to laugh again, this time at myself, the American to whom sports are a deadly serious business. Not simply fun, as at Oxford.
MAVIS C. B. McGANN
New London, N.H.
THE HAIR OF THE DOGS
The Underdogs Have Made It (Nov. 12)—SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S finest article. Oh, I wish I could have been around when NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle read it; how he must have winced. People may ignore it, the NFL may try to kill it, New York sports writers may defame it, but in three years the American Football League has pulled a miracle.
Robert Boyle mentioned in his absurd article that the best of the AFL could beat the middling-to-poor of the NFL. Does he really think that the AFL could even begin to stop such stars of this bracket as: J. D. Smith, Bill Kilmer, Jon Arnett, Dick Bass, Sonny Jurgensen, John David Crow, Sonny Randle, Jim Brown, Tommy McDonald and Bobby Layne, among others? Now, really, the AFL is improving, but it's hardly up to NFL caliber!
I was considering letting my subscription to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED expire because you have "ignored" the AFL for these many months. Now all is forgiven with your coverage of the AFL and the Buffalo Bills.
CATHERINE C. KURTZ
The AFL is better than the NFL? Forget it. Big deal, Buffalo came back in the last 10 minutes to win 45-38. If I were trying to boost the AFL I certainly would not reveal this fact because it shows a very good example of the lousy defense in the American League.
I hope that there is a World Series between these two leagues so that Mr. Boyle will learn that the AFL is nowhere near the NFL in football.
Forest Hills, Pa.