BABBITTRY AND BALDERDASH
The principal danger that SI faces, in my opinion, is that of falling into a philosophy of sports fully as Babbittrous as anything the Lynds found in Middletown.... I refer particularly to your November 21 E & D editorial on Veblen.
Now the fact is that football (and I have played it somewhat better than average) is a dull game as compared to soccer (which I have also played) and to Rugby (which I have only watched). The ball is actually in motion a very small part of the official playing time. The game places an overwhelming importance on size, and the opportunity for any individual initiative is sharply delimited except to the backs, in comparison with either of the other games. And there is not nearly the opportunity for the fortunes of the game to shift as swiftly as they do in soccer and Rugby....
As for hunting, I don't know how any reasonable man can argue that hunting is a sport or, if it is a sport, that it is an ennobling sport.... The concept of hunting as a sport leads to such twisted logic as your article on deer. Your statements with respect to the need for the reduction of herd (SI, Nov. 21) may be perfectly correct, yet I am sure that no shot deer feels that he has been done a service, nor does any hunter announce to his family as he sets off, "I am going off to do the deer herd a service." The purpose, in short, is not to enrich and ennoble the deer herd but to provide healthy game to be shot....
The series of sportsmen's codes, which are an abomination on clear thinking, is a reflection of mediocrity which has no place in today's world. I don't know that Albert Einstein or Enrico Fermi or Thomas Edison or Henry Ford ever bothered to learn any of this balderdash.
D. L. STOFLE
Palo Alto, Calif.
JUST THE FACTS, PLEASE
You say in A Mountaineer Dream Is Over (SI, Nov. 21): "Then suddenly Coach Art Lewis frowned, looked around wildly, took four quick steps to a nearby goal post and knocked soundly on wood.... He was taking no chances of affronting his muse. He was wearing the same frayed brown suit.... In his wallet was a tarnished half dollar that carried its own spell," etc., etc.... Shades of Veblen!
If Lewis' actions are not an expression of the "boyish temperament," of the "rehabilitation of the early barbarian temperament" ("Football and Veblen," E & D, Nov. 21), then what are they?
Please, sirs, just relate the exploits of our virile heroes, no philosophy. Us boys like your archaic magazine just as it is.
CLEMENT T. McGUIRE
? SI's point on Veblen was that this humorless advocate of austerity and utilitarianism "could write an entire chapter on sports without ever thinking of the word 'fun.' " While sports may at one time have been the prerogative of a "predatory and archaic leisure class," today it has become, as President Eisenhower said the other day, "the great common denominator." And only last month Pope Pius, in considering the widespread interest in sports as one of the "phenomena of modern society," compared the ideal goal of an athlete to the "power and harmony, order and beauty, effort and victory and renown of achieving a record" attained by the architects of St. Peter's. As to which sport is the most fun—football, hunting, soccer, Rugby or hero worship—in the Wonderful World of Sport, that is the privilege of everyone to decide for himself.—ED.
My vote for Sportsman of the Year—Juan Manuel Fangio.
DAVID R. CONDER
...A man who can stand unflinchingly beside SI's last-year choice of Roger Bannister, without fear of comparison insofar as accomplishment, self-sacrifice, perseverance, humility and all-round universal appeal are concerned. I refer simply to the strongest man on earth and quite possibly the strongest man that ever walked the face of the earth: Weight Lifter Paul Anderson.
R. D. MYERS