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The defeat of the U.S. men's track team in Kiev was a shocker, since it was the first in the eight-year history of the games with the U.S.S.R. It produced an even more shocking reaction on the part of some U.S. participants. Instead of congratulating the winners they offered a shameless succession of excuses, including the preposterous one that the Russians deliberately fatigued the American athletes by arranging for delays at the airport and in getting hotel rooms. As any traveler knows, such delays are common enough in U.S. airports and hotel lobbies.
There were good reasons for the defeat, including the illness of some stars, but an even better reason was the fine performance of the Russian team. The dismal war between the NCAA and the AAU, a situation hardly attributable to Russian plotting, did not help either.
What made the U.S. reaction all the more embarrassing was that the Russian press reported the meet fairly, without crowing and without political overtones. As for us, we were just nyekulturni.
WHERE THE BLAME IS
The doom of boxing was proclaimed eloquently after Cassius Clay's instant KO of Sonny Liston in Lewiston, Me., and it is now being proclaimed wishfully again after the Madison Square Garden riot that followed Flash Elorde's defeat of the favored Puerto Rican, Frankie Narvaez. BOXING FLOORED AGAIN, bannered the New York World-Telegram. The New York Times seized the occasion to flute once more that "prizefighting is a game that brutalizes spectators as well as the boxers themselves."
It is true that the aftermath of the fight was a spectacle in degradation, but the fight itself was pretty good and nothing that happened in it was brutalizing. Madison Square Garden had prudently assigned 70 "special" policemen to handle the crowd of 7,000. Numerically, the Garden had the right idea but most of the "specials"—elderly, corpulent, benign and feckless—had not the slightest intention of stepping into the line of fire as chairs, waste cans, fire extinguishers and even fire axes were flung in the general direction of the ring. Regular police arrived 20 minutes to a half hour late.
To blame this disgusting affair on prizefighting is a thoughtless injustice. The blame lies with the overly partisan hoodlums who could not accept an official decision.
Prizefighting brutalizes? Then one must hold that soccer brutalizes. Soccer riots in other countries make this one look like a lawn party.