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The curious case of Wes Santee—a morality play which assumed the overtones of a Keystone Cops Comedy last weekend as Wes and officials of the AAU chased each other in and out of the New York courts—has dramatized the question "What is Amateurism?" as it has not been dramatized in a decade. The Santee dilemma made it easy to say that amateurism is a white lie and has been for years, and that an amateur is a fellow who doesn't get caught or, like 99.44% of U.S. track and field athletes, a fellow who couldn't make a nickel anyhow because nobody wants to watch him.
Last week, a file of ghostly witnesses—famous runners from the past—complained anonymously in the New York press that Santee was being jobbed. All of them said that meet directors had paid them, too, for appearing in invitational events, that the custom was known to everybody in track (as indeed it was and is) and that the AAU had not only singled out Santee unfairly, but had punished him for a practice which the AAU itself had long condoned by silence. Most of the 12,000 people, and many of the athletes, in Madison Square Garden last Saturday seemed to agree. Santee was cheered vociferously as, having gotten his "lifetime suspension" temporarily lifted in the courts, he won the otherwise meaningless Columbian Mile. The crowd booed five other runners who withdrew (for fear of losing Olympic Games eligibility) and ran a special race among themselves. Listening, it was hard not to think that there would also be laughter in Moscow.
The AAU—a loosely knit structure of autonomous regional organizations—has the faults of its own structure. It is perfectly clear that not all of the volunteer sports enthusiasts who fill the AAU's regional offices share identical concern for the letter of the amateur law. One of the top officials of the regional AAU in the Pacific Northwest, indeed, is none other than Torchy Torrance, the chief engineer of the University of Washington's booster club which has paid extracurricular salaries to football players (SI, Feb. 20). If, however, some AAU people feel that increased expenses for track athletes are excused by the pressures of modern life, the practices of other sports, such as football, and the competition of state-subsidized athletes abroad, they have still not acted openly on that assumption.
And the fact still remains that Wes Santee, while ostensibly an amateur and while bound by the existing rules, did apparently stoop to subterfuge and did receive extra money for track appearances. The great majority of U.S. runners of his era did not. Not all the ex-athletes who spoke up about the Santee case last week applauded him. A good many—like Edward T. O'Brien, who held the 400-meter national title when he ran for Syracuse University in 1935 and who was a member of the 1936 U.S. Olympic Team—referred with pride to their careers as amateur athletes, were outspoken in defending the amateur spirit.
"I ran in invitational events in the Garden too," said O'Brien, now a New Jersey insurance man. "I wasn't naive enough to believe that some of the fellows I ran against didn't get paid—I know they did. But I didn't. Neither did my teammate, Marty Glickman, and he was a good enough sprinter to go to the 1936 Olympics too. I know the fellows I ran with on European junkets didn't get anything above expenses—we were all too broke. These 'informants' who are defending Santee by saying they took money too, are creating an unfair impression. I grant that track isn't 100% pure but it certainly is not in the shape they would have you believe it is. I don't think Santee should have expected anything from running but the satisfaction of competing and the memory of it in later life—to me, and I'm sure to most track men, that's quite a bit."
The favorite sport of President Eisenhower is by no means swimming, but these days swim he does—in the dogged way a man might take pills on doctor's orders. The swimming is doctor's orders and also in line with Ike's own program, "regular amounts of exercise, recreation and rest," mentioned in the radio-TV speech which told the country why he had decided that he was well enough to continue in the presidency for another term.
But Ike's sporting ardor is more for golf, fishing and hunting than for swimming. In the warm White House pool, heated to 86�-90�, he splashes about for almost half an hour at noon each day when he cannot escape the urging of Dr. Howard McC. Snyder, who added swimming to Dr. Paul Dudley White's more general instructions that Ike take reasonable exercise—as much as he felt like without overtiring.
As to recreation, that is covered by bridge, for the most part. Rest involves a prescribed 90 minutes of off-the-feet repose at midday but Ike has sometimes whittled that to a half-hour.