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The idea, however, did not die with the government's retreat to Formosa. Chiang is a most persistent man. Three years ago the Generalissimo suggested the reinstatement of his all-but-forgotten calisthenics program for civil employees—to keep them fit for the defense of Formosa and eventual return to the mainland. There was little enthusiasm for the suggestion. Last autumn Chiang revived it, with more pointed phrasing, and since January all but a few of his able-bodied public servants under 45 have been taking part in group calisthenics at the beginning or end of their working day. The other day Chiang beamed to see 7,653 of his civil workers, clad entirely in white—baseball caps, T-shirts, duck trousers, socks and sneakers—wind up a two-day track and field meet with 14 minutes of competitive bending and hopping by 3,000 of them. Winner: the Tainan County government. What county government in the U.S.A. can do hop-to-side straddles, bends and lunges, or even breathe deeply for 14 minutes?
It is now apparent that SI's Jimmy Jemail started something when he asked: "In a free-for-all between Rocky Marciano, heavyweight boxing champion, and Lou Thesz, wrestling champion, who would win?" Jimmy Jemail got Rocky's word for it that he would bat Lou's brains out—and Lou's word that he would beat Rocky or, by implication, any other fist fighter.
SI now has a descent of mail from readers (see 19TH HOLE) and it is clear that the question stirs people to elemental positions. The Texas promoter, Morris P. Sigel, even wires in an offer to stage such a match. Ah, there, now! If you succeed, Mr. Sigel, expect us at ringside. But wouldn't it be a shame to shut off such a good philosophical discussion with something as blunt and final as a showdown?
A youngster with an eye on posterity and a talent for the right sport gets a pretty good crack at immortality nowadays. As everyone knows, there is a Hall of Fame for baseball players at Cooperstown, a hall for tennis at Newport, for basketball at Springfield, Mass., for golf at Augusta, Ga., for soccer at Philadelphia. Not to be left in the ruck, football has a hall going for itself on the Rutgers campus at New Brunswick, N.J., and although its progress has been rather fitful it has already installed (up to the start of this season) 88 players and 39 coaches, making the venerable Cooperstown shrine with its mere 73 immortals look like a sleepy slowpoke. And the football hall is just getting into high gear: more than a score of names have been added to its honor roll this year.
The only trouble with the football Hall of Fame right now is that it doesn't have any hall. Just a couple of offices in New Brunswick where a staff of four works on big plans for the future. One of these plans, naturally enough, is a permanent hall, one that will cost something like $500,000 and house plaques to the immortals, a museum of football mementos like historic balls and uniforms and a library full of football lore. That's the materialistic side of the enterprise.
On a loftier plane, the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame, as it is called, intends to do something for football as a game. "Our purpose is to defend, honor and preserve the game of amateur football," says Vice Admiral John H. (Babe) Brown, a Hall of Famer himself who once played an All-America guard for Navy and now operates as president of the Foundation and Hall. "We hope to influence the thinking of educators and participants so that they will all realize the great values inherent in the game. It is a mobilization of the constructive forces of football. It is a cooperative effort manned by men with respect for facts who are determined to measure that which is good and see that it is better understood; to analyze that which is harmful and to do their part to wipe it out."
What mainly worries Babe Brown is that some college presidents and high school principals have been saying that football is getting too commercialized or too expensive or too rough, and since World War II a number of them have been lopping it off the curriculum. The Foundation hopes to reverse the trend by convincing inimical educators as well as the public that "the playing of well-supervised, highly competitive football by amateurs for pleasure and glory is of immeasurable value to the individuals participating and, through them, to the nation."
So the Foundation is out for members who will carry the torch. The nucleus of the membership is 52 directors: some of the better-known college coaches, sportswriters and broadcasters plus an impressive list of businessmen, many of them great players in their day. Heading the list as chairman is Chester LaRoche, once a star at Yale and now a big-time ad man in New York. In an attempt to define the kind of member it expects to enroll, a prospectus says: "Chances are, he played on his high school or college team for a year or two, reads the sports pages industriously and returns to watch his alma mater play a few games each year. Maybe he has no real connection with the game but just loves to watch it..." Already 75 of these fellows have signed up for the $100 life memberships and another 3,000 are paying $5 a year for charter memberships.