Political pundits are a varied breed, but what they have in common is that they take themselves more seriously than ordinary mortals, or even sportswriters. When they turn to sport, as they all occasionally do, it often is with a heavy hand—sometimes with ponderous humor, sometimes to make labored analogies between a world they do not understand and the world they possibly may not understand as well as they think they do.
This week we have C. L. Sulzberger lamenting in The New York Times that "as usual, the United States has sent a team of amateurs to the Olympic Games to compete, as usual, against a team of Soviet professionals." This naivet�, says Mr. Sulzberger, costs us heavily on the international scene. He would have his readers think that the U.S. has a clutter of superstars immobilized by their professional status. The fact is, of course, that we could not find anyone to run the mile faster than Dyrol Burleson or Tom O'Hara if we paid him money to do so.
It is no secret that Communist athletes are only technical amateurs, since they are given sinecures in civil or military services that allow them to work full time on their sport. But let's not get too sanctimonious. What is so different about a young American who goes through college on an athletic scholarship and emerges with a degree in physical education?
As generally conceived, integration has come to be understood as the introduction of Negroes to facilities hitherto reserved for whites. But it can mean just the reverse, too, as in the case of Barry Moore, freshman halfback on the Kentucky State College football team.
Barry is white. All his teammates and coaches are Negroes. Only 5% of Kentucky State's 1,004 full-time students are white.
An excellent high school athlete who could have won an athletic scholarship elsewhere, Moore chose Kentucky State because his home is in Frankfort, where the college is situated.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a little uneasy feeling in our first game at Nashville against Fisk University," Moore said. "It was an entirely new experience being the only white player in a game where almost all the spectators were Negro. However, I lost most of my self-consciousness as the game moved along."
Jackie Robinson would understand.