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A MODEST PROPOSAL
We could, of course, bid the AAU amateur ideal adieu and provide our star athletes with a bigger-and-better-than-Russian system of endowed athletics. But the trouble is that we would be doing this to spite the Soviet Union and to flatter our own chauvinistic impulses, rather than for the sake of athletics. And that has proven to be a dangerous experiment. The great flaw of the Russian system is that athletics are used for a purpose other than recreation and the ideal of achieving excellence.
Here is my modest proposal. I suggest that a group of weighty citizens, interested in the value of sport, form a body with the purpose of persuading some of our great foundations, such as the Rockefeller, Ford, Commonwealth, Markle, etc. etc. groups, to establish jointly a new foundation which would underwrite a national sports program designed to produce excellence in sports the way we now have programs to produce excellence in medical training, historical research and contemporary affairs.
I do not believe that such a proposal would set the bodies of the late Messrs. Rockefeller, Harkness and Markle to spinning in their graves. Athletics are a pretty fine thing and through the centuries have been an ennobling influence on Man.
PARADISE IN PERU
THE MEASURE OF GREATNESS
The latest example of this is Nashua's somewhat dismal showing in Florida (SI, March 26) which is even having repercussions at this distant point. Thank heaven the people most directly concerned took his shellacking in good grace as witness their statements:
"That's horse racing. I just hope we get another chance." Jim Fitzsimmons, trainer.
"We'll race him all year, or as long as the handicappers let him." Leslie Combs II, head of owning syndicate.
The last remark of course is the all-important one, because it is within Mr. Combs's jurisdiction to keep this fine horse on the turf and chance further losses, which naturally would reduce his value at stud, or retire him now. How good it was to have this fine example of sportsmanship rather than to listen, for example, to Sam Riddle's wails of anguish for years after Man o' War's defeat by Upset. As Mr. Hal Price Headly often states, "You don't win them in the barn." You've got to try and be tried.