WAIT'LL NEXT DECADE
I would like to commend you for your very comprehensive and direct article (Why Can't We Beat This Girl? Sept. 30).
The plain, simple fact is that as long as we provide virtually no programs for our American girls, and as long as we discourage their participation and defend their defeat by saying, "Ladies should not perspire or show signs of physical stress or strain!" we shall continue to get clobbered. If we hope to go ahead and produce a winner in the area of women's track and field, we must institute changes in practice, philosophy and policy. There are in America thousands and thousands of girls who would be willing to pay the price necessary to represent this country internationally. We never hear of them or from them, because we don't expose them to the sport.
Somewhere between the Atlantic and the Pacific, between the Canadian and the Mexican borders, there is a women's track-and-field team that can win for America and that Americans can be proud of. I believe that we should find that team—now!
I am in junior high and am avidly interested in track and field. But, is there any way I can really compete, without competing on the national level? No, not to speak of. Our school does have a meet with a few other junior high schools once a school year. Seeing as how this is an annual event, one would think it would be a really big event. It isn't. We have a grand total of four events—softball throw, broad jump, high jump and 50-yard dash. This can hardly be called a "track meet."
As for class instruction, more emphasis should be placed on track and field—competitive and recreational aspects. With more training, more champions can be developed. The saying, "Champions are made, not born" still holds. Junior high is not too young to start.
Finally, someone has come out for improvement in girls' athletics.
It has been proved time and again that physically fit females are happier, do better in the classroom and make better mothers. Yet, our educators make no provisions for girls' athletics.
The physical education people consider it drudgery to coach girl athletes, and few, if any, male coaches want the job. The girls' teams show this neglect in a lack of fundamental knowledge of the sport.
Girls' athletics can be exciting and hold spectator interest if we will forget that females are fragile packages that must be protected and coddled at all times. Girls tolerate a rigorous training schedule as well as boys, but many coaches fear that they will overwork girls and hence be left open to criticism. Let's give the girls the same playing rules as the boys and forget this double standard. Let's give them a real chance to run and play; then we will have Olympic teams that will be a credit to our country.
FRANK E. BARNES JR., M.D.
Ten years from now, possibly a little sooner, American girls may be able to beat a Russian girl like Valentina Maslovskaya. There really isn't anything the matter with American girls that the education of parents, school administrators, school boards, physical educators, the medical profession, writers for popular magazines—and American girls—couldn't fix. But it will take that long. The chances for our present crop are gone.