LET JUSTICE BE
TEMPERED WITH MERCY
The sometimes sanctimonious men who comprise the Executive Committee of the AAU
have crassly stamped Miler Wes Santee with the tag "professional" (E
& D, Feb. 27, March 5). The punishment: exile for life. And all SI can say
By its own
interpretation of an amateur, "one who engages in sport for pleasure, and
for the physical, mental or social benefits he derives therefrom, and to whom
sport is nothing more than an avocation," can this committee, in
conscience, refute Santee's motive for running? Is there a market for
professional track men? Santee is certainly our best at the mile; then why no
clamor for his services at $50,000 or $100,000 per year?
Wes Santee has
been imprudent in many of his past actions. There seems to be no doubt that he
lacked discretion in accepting too much money to defray expenses in the meets
in question and that a just punishment is merited. But banishment for life?
Justice should be tempered with mercy, wisdom and a cognizance of the case
history of the perpetrator.
The decision of
the Executive Committee certainly can't be construed as in the best interests
of amateur sport. Wes Santee has been a good friend to American track. The
tragedy of contemporary American sport is that we have too few with the hearty
blood of Wes Santee. Men willing to sacrifice through thankless years of
unremitting toil toward self-improvement that is measured in such a minimal
thing as a second, or even a fraction of a second....
I eagerly await
news of the promoters "not at the moment under attack" in the Santee
case. What delays the attack? Surely the evidence against Santee is evidence
against them. Should their sentence be any less severe than Santee's?
with which the AAU judges amateurism is truly ambiguous. They are repulsed by
Santee, while smiling benignly at the basketballers who perform in both their
national tourney and the Olympics. Here are found men paid by summer resorts
while being groomed for college competition, proselyted through college, and
"kept," in spirit if not by the letter of amateur law, after college
days by industrial corporations, ostensibly as employees....
I thoroughly agree with you that the promoters are the real villains in the Wes
Santee-AAU dispute. Track and field events, in the guise of "relays"
and "carnivals," have become big business. The moment such an event is
sponsored by a commercial organization, it ceases to be a true amateur event.
Naturally the promoters of those meets need and want the best athletes to make
it a commercial success and they'll get them any way they can.
The AAU is most
certainly a bumbling, crippled kind of thing and is much to blame for allowing
the promoters to have taken over in track and field. But with Wes Santee, an
arrogant and rather untalented athlete who has gotten the publicity breaks,
they have made a beginning towards re-defining amateur sports and enforcing
that definition. More power to them.
L. R. CASSEL
I will agree with you that the AAU's attempts to ban Wes Santee, our best
miler, from amateur competition are fair only when I see this jellyfish of an
enforcing body follow up with similar rulings against other athletes and the
king pins in the sports events promotion business.
Some of the AAU
officials hereabouts are connected with sporting goods manufacturers and retail
people. In other words, they make their living from sports. I think that is
fully as incongruous as Wes Santee's expense account.