Last week in Chicago the U.S. Olympic track and field committee decided to abandon the traditional American system of selecting our Olympic team. We used to have a track meet called the Olympic trials. The first three finishers in each event made the team, and that was that. It was a harsh and ruthless system, but it worked. If it cost us a Dave Sime in 1956 (the best sprinter in the world, he pulled a muscle just before the trials), it found us a Lindy Remigino in 1952 (a "virtual unknown, he went on to win the Olympic 100 meters at Helsinki). In the traditional Olympic trials, prior performances counted for nothing. Knowing that only what they did on that day mattered, competitors reached way inside themselves for speed and strength and endurance they didn't know they had.
Now it is different. The so-called Olympic trials scheduled for New York next July 3 and 4 will be little more than another preliminary meet. Only the winner in each event, according to the new plan, can assume that he has made the Olympic team, and even his place is subject to review. In September the committee will invite outstanding competitors to appear in another trial in Los Angeles. After that the U.S. team will be named. The committee may select the first three finishers in each event, but it doesn't have to. It can name anyone it chooses.
There will be arguments. (If a winner in the New York meet finishes fourth at Los Angeles, do you pick him? If a hitherto mediocre competitor runs his best race—the only great performance of his life—in Los Angeles, do you pick him or pass him up?)
We feel the Olympic committee has made a serious error in judgment, one certain to arouse bitterness and resentment. We applaud its intent: to insure that the best athletes will be on the team. But we deplore the arbitrariness of a final selection made by a board of coaches and officials.
Let the officials indeed do all they can to give outstanding athletes a fair chance to make the team. But let the athletes themselves, in competition and under pressure, make the final decision.
DAISIES IN INDIA
Twenty years ago, when they belonged to the Empire, very few of India's 164 million men and boys had ever handled a gun. In those days it was hard to find an Indian civilian below the level of maharaja who could hit the broad side of a Brahma bull at 50 yards. Even after the protective paw of the British lion was gone, the Indians remained strong believers in passive resistance. Then last year, when Red China suddenly became a very bad neighbor, India was caught short. The Indians were not outmanned, but they were outgunned.
Beginning this spring, Indian boys and girls will learn gun handling and marksmanship in school, using rifles that, before the end of the year, will be coming out of a new plant in the Punjab at a rate of 5,000 a day. The rifle will, be called the India Defender, but this noble name would not fool an American boy for a minute. The new gun plant in the Punjab is being set up for the Indian government by the Daisy Manufacturing Company of Rogers, Ark. The India Defender is the Daisy lever-action air rifle, Model 99—an old and familiar item frequently found under the American Christmas tree.
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