THE SANCTITY OF
I was distressed to read your description of the first "politathlon" (E
& D, July 2), and I was the more disturbed when I saw that you had
continued the subject the following week. The implication of the two pieces is
decidedly political, and the importance of their subjects to the world of sport
is dubious. Since SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has devoted itself to sports, why then let
us stick to sports and sports alone, unadulterated by political selections (if
such a thing is possible in an election year). I would indeed be loth to see
the most enjoyable of my sanctuaries sullied by the dark influences of the
world's second oldest profession.
I am delighted with SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S discovery of the politathlon and am
anxious to direct the editors' attention to three other branches of this new
First, there is
the theathlon. The arena is generally the front lawn of the local parish church
and the cause is good. Sporting events such as throwing balls at milk cans,
pony riding, shooting at toy balloons with popguns are staple features, and the
idea generally is to try everything as often as possible at 25� a throw, taking
due care not to carry off too many prizes since the Great Umpire presumably has
his eye on you.
Then there is the
reunathlon. This has one of the features of the Olympic Games in as much as it
takes place only at regular intervals: the sixth, 10th and 25th reunions of
college classes. Events are generally the 50-yard run for dads with more than
four children; the flapjack race for the better-looking class wives and of
course the every-body-welcome softball game. There are also informal sessions,
such as the poker game for those corporate executives of $25,000 and over.
Lastly, there is
that rather trying, but inescapable, event: the patrathlon. Patrathlons (or as
the pedants have it: patrathla) are scheduled in kindergarten and lower schools
all over the country on Fathers' Visiting Days. I have attended many, but even
so the rules are still hazy to me although my 6-year-old can explain them.
There is much sitting around in circles, complicated clapping of hands and
chanting of not altogether clear words at the proper time. Imitative gestures
and movements symbolizing birds, flowers and the like are also part of it.
Each one of these
curious sporting gatherings follows its own rules as if presided over by an
unseen Mr. Brundage, but as far as I know SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is the first to
make a field trip to document a typical politathlon meet. Now that you have
made the pioneering step, go forward. The day is not far off when people will
say that today's politathlon cannot compare to the wonderful old days before
the livelier bagpipes and the hardy politicos who would think nothing of
staring "raspberry-flavored success" in the face and meet its melting
?And don't forget
delegate-baiting, which is the current rage.—ED.
In his article
Virginia's Finest Horseman (SPORTS OF THE PRESIDENTS, July 2),
Mr. Durant notes that Washington was a rather poor speller. Spelling rules have
changed considerably in 180 years. Furthermore, at that time there were no set
rules for spelling or punctuation and if there had been, Washington would, as a
rich man's son, have been taught them.
Beverly Hills, Calif.
had not yet brought out his speller, spelling "with a clear, and full, but
soft voice" was part of a boy's schooling even in Washington's day.
However, George Washington, without father or fortune, left school at the age
of about 15. All his life Washington was overly sensitive to "a
consciousness of a defective education," which in part decided him against
writing his oft-requested commentary on the American Revolution. Washington
spelled almost entirely by ear, coming up with such haphazard jottings as
"corrispondences," "leizure" and "went a hunting [after
fox] and catched none."—ED.
WHO ME, SIR?
Your story about the children's game of Jacqueline (E & D, July 9) brings
to mind a similar but, to me, much superior game called Prince of Paris,
already a tradition when I attended the public schools of Los Angeles in the