LET THEM BEGIN SLOWLY
Put a young man on an arbitrary line and urge him to clobber another young man on the opposite side and there will be bloody noses, cut lips and twisted ankles. Football is a tough game and, partly for that reason, a good one. But when young men and boys are killed playing football—in a much greater number than in other contact sports—one must question its values. The 1964 football season is coming close to being the most fatality-ridden in the game's history. So far this year 24 youths have died.
As always, advocates and antagonists will study the figures and come to conclusions ranging from the inadequacy of equipment to the thesis that football is monstrous in its very conception.
We hold with neither theory. But one set of statistics fairly jumps from the page and demands an answer. On the college and professional level, where the players are bigger and faster and impact is greatest, deaths are relatively uncommon—three this season among 300,000. It is on the high school gridirons that football becomes lethal. That teen-agers should be encouraged to play a game in which some may die (21 this year up to now) is indefensible.
We suggest that age 15 is too young for football as the high schools now play it in premature imitation of the collegians and the pros. The fully developed muscle and bone structure of a well-conditioned grown man can tolerate far more than the baby fat and immature skeleton of a high school sophomore. And the high school player is seldom in as good condition as his elders.
There are ways to prepare boys for the rigors of adult football without exposing them to it in its entirety. Common decency and a proper regard for the values of sport demand drastic modification of the high school game.
DONNA'S DECISIVE DUNK
The secret of Donna de Varona's Olympic victory in the 400-meter individual medley swim may lie in a tale she told last week.
As a tension-reliever and to reduce the shock of sudden transition from air to water at the start of a race, most swimmers like to dunk themselves before mounting the starting box. Donna is no exception. But Olympic rules forbid jumping into the pool immediately before a race.
"I stood on the starting box awaiting the gun and feeling uncomfortable," Donna related, "and I said to myself, ' De Varona, you haven't been slaving for seven years just to be beaten.' So just as the starter raised his gun I jumped in. That intentional false start gave me the bath I needed. After that, I just knew I had to win."