hurled his Olympian thunderbolt in Montreal, while revisiting the country he
once served (1946-52) as King George VI's Governor General. He was the same
Alexander who led the Allied forces to victory in the Mediterranean in World
War II, who won his field marshal's baton in the liberation of Rome—and who set
records for the mile and two miles at Sandhurst. As a lithe lieutenant of the
Irish Guards, Alexander won the Irish Amateur Mile in 1914 with a commendable
time of 4:33. He grew up in the full bloom of gentlemanly amateurism in British
sport, today heads the crusty Marylebone Cricket Club. Yet, in Montreal...
have to work so hard to make a living," said his lordship, "that they
are hard put to find the time and the energy for rigorous training. Expenses
which they receive...help them out. Take the Russians. They aren't amateurs and
they aren't professionals. They are actually civil servants."
Alexander should have known that creeping civil servantism was a big reason for
the decline and fall of the original Olympic Games. In the sixth century B.C.
Solon started handing out 500 drachmas to any Athenian who came home from
Olympia a winner. Soon leading athletes were drawing free meals and free
front-row seats at public spectacles. The Sacred Games became profane, bribery
became commonplace, and the cities of Greece bid competitively for the services
of the Olympic heroes. By the fifth century, the top musclemen of the day were
worshiped as demigods.
For a long time
the athletes lived it up handsomely in Hellas. Gradually they became an
indolent class unto themselves, stylishly pensioned, supported and bribed by
the state, and organized into synods, or unions, to protect their privileges.
Most Athenians were, of necessity, vegetarians; the athletes gorged on
Greece's kept athletes began to look like Strasbourg geese, bred and fattened
for the public to venerate. Had he consulted his history books, Marshall
Alexander would have discovered that great generals, like Epaminondas and an
earlier Alexander, scorned the professional Olympians as being too useless for
military service. Had he looked at the marbles and painted artifacts in the
British Museum, he might have discovered why: the graven likenesses of Greek
athletes by 300 B.C. show a race of muscle-bound pinheads. Compared to the
statues and the murals of their sleek-sinewed ancestors—amateurs all—the
state-supported athletes were sorry slobs indeed.
The Greeks had a
word or two for them. "Of all the countless evils throughout
Hellas"—Euripides wrote it down—"none is worse than the race of
athletes...Slaves of their belly."
rosters of most U.S. colleges are not exactly choked with female basketball
players; girls seem more inclined to dream of hitting it rich in Hollywood than
of sinking the old casaba from outside the foul line, and college men are
generally left unchallenged to reap the sports headlines. The reverse of all
this is true, however, at Wayland College (enrollment 482) in Plainview (pop.
18,000), Texas—home of the Hutcherson Flying Queens, who have just won the
women's national AAU basketball championship for the third time in a row. If
Wayland's basketball court boasted a marquee it would just have to read, like
Minsky's: "Girls! Girls! Girls!"
team has a hard time when it hits the road. People are forever saying, "Oh,
you fellows come from the same school as that girls' team." They can only
comfort themselves by reflecting that a man—a wealthy Texas rancher named
Claude Hutcherson—was the cause of it all. In 1949, when Wayland's president
asked Hutcherson to see what he could do about helping out, few people even in
Plainview were conscious that girls played basketball at the little college.
Then, as now, most girls' basketball teams of any consequence were supported by
industrial concerns. Hutcherson, however, set out to make Way-land the best in
He began by
flying the Wayland girls to their games—thus giving the team a certain glamour,
and at the same time advertising the fact that his various enterprises include
a flying service. He bought the team flashy blue and white uniforms, pledged
himself to pay their expenses and made it plain that he didn't care how far
they might have to travel to find suitable opposition. Girls all over Texas,
New Mexico and Oklahoma suddenly started hoping that they could be Flying
Queens too—40 or 50 hopeful young women now show up at Wayland each year to try
for the team. Wayland's varsity coach, Harley Redin, is now in charge of the
girl players. They have become, he says, "The first fast-breaking team in