The world of sport has never truly recognized any world outside its own. In the world of sport, George Washington is admitted as a horse owner along with Sir Winston Churchill and Queen Elizabeth; Dwight D. Eisenhower is a golfer, a hunter, a fisherman and fair-to-middlin' camp cook. In some other world outside, men of science have produced some new bombs, some new missiles and a wrinkle-resistant wash-and-wear suit for men. But who has time for these items?except possibly umpires who get awfully wrinkled? The only bombers the baseball fans of the typical American city of Cleveland, Ohio fear are those led out of The Bronx by Casey Stengel.
This does not mean that the world of sport is a dream world. As a matter of fact, there are solid reasons for suspecting that it is at present performing with greater logic and more straight talk than the world to which the front pages of newspapers are devoted. The talk, it should be said quickly, may not always seem straight to outsiders (take Casey Stengel's calculated gibberish as an example), but the sports fan's ear automatically translates as the eye automatically inverts an image. Thus, when a Frank Leahy-type of football coach says: "We'll be lucky if we get a first down," the fan instantly knows he really means: "It will be a massacre by my boys."
Far from being a dream world, the world of sport, booming as it is everywhere, may be keeping another world from blowing its top, literally and figuratively. At a time when the talk is all of freedom, the sports world demonstrates every day its own brand of freedom which makes it possible for a man to do anything he has enough will to do (Score: Free Germany 3; Red Hungary 2). And yet, there is the reminder that this freedom is not the freedom to do just anything: the freedom of the sports world operates within a framework of rules.
The free sports world has solved many a social problem that appeared impossible of solution in the world outside?remember Rickey and Robinson in 1945. At a time when juvenile delinquency is an alarming problem, the sports world is doing for tens of thousands of boys what it did for the famous boys of 1910, Ruth, Ouimet and Dempsey. In New York City, the police put more faith in the Police Athletic League as a weapon against delinquency than they do in their night sticks. From Chicago, the Catholic Youth Organization founded in 1930 by Bishop Bernard J. Sheil has spread its sports gospel to more than 10 million boys and girls from coast to coast. Authorities everywhere agree that a boy busy with sports has little time to get in trouble.
There is nothing bad about sports. Where there seems to be, a closer look reveals that what is wrong is wrong with people. You can look only at the wrong people and dry up into a sports cynic. Or, while you remain vigilant against the corrupters and degraders, you can look for the good and the wonderful things?and they are everywhere in this new golden age.
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