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"Traffic and tourist lodgings are the two biggest worries now," summarizes Mario Saini, director of Olympic construction and physical arrangements. "Everything else is right on time. Rome will be ready."
In a 1952 election to find a suitable living symbol for their football team, students at the University of Tennessee were asked to pick a mascot which was at once "easygoing, loyal, intelligent, a fighter when aroused and a testimony to the pioneer spirit of Tennessee." First choice was no boy scout but a flop-eared, sad-eyed, cold-nosed coon dog named Smokey. The hound ("There never lived a finer," said his owner) shouldered his noble obligations proudly until a day in 1955 when he was dispatched to an even higher calling by a speeding automobile. Thereupon his son, Smokey II, snatched up the UT colors and through last week was still following in papa's paw prints.
But uneasy lies the head that wears the mascot crown at Tennessee. In a scathing personal attack upon Smokey II, Ike Greene, a UT alumnus, exclaimed last week: "That dog just doesn't have enough dignity for a team as fine as the Vols. We're missing the boat by having an old hound for a mascot when the university could be represented by a Tennessee walking horse." Backing up Greene was Colonel M. M. Bullard, a Tennessee horse trader, who owns three time world champion walking horse Setting Sun. Bullard has obligingly offered to loan his $200,000 specimen free for the asking and has, moreover, volunteered to transport the horse to all Tennessee games, at home or away. "Why," said the horse's suddenly excited trainer, Sam Paschal, heaping more abuse on top of old Smokey, "that ol' dog probably wouldn't know a coon if he met one face to face or got wrapped up in a coat that had four legs. But if that ball club had Setting Sun for a mascot, they'd sure have something to be proud of. And before this season is over [Vols' record to date: 2-1-1] they may need something to be proud of."
Smokey's loyalty down the years has, of course, been reciprocated in this crisis. Said one student, hackles bristling: "He's ours all the way, win or lose, on the field or off. He may be ugly to some, but he's no stuffed shirt like some overrated horses I've heard tell of. Smokey's staying."
Whether Smokey stays or Setting Sun comes will not be decided until UT students hold another election, as yet unscheduled. But in the meantime they might do well to consider, too, the sentiments of Bowden Wyatt, the football coach. "Frankly, the whole business is silly," he said last week, dog-tired of all the horsing around. "Who ever heard of an animal winning a football game?"
As USUAL at this time of year, France's school kids are once more back in harness burdened with the huge loads of books that school-children must bear the world over. What makes the French children's lot different and notable this year is that for the first time they are facing a required course which promises to make their burden lighter by giving them new strength to bear it.
"Your children," ran a letter to France's parents at the beginning of the school year, "take part in absorbing, fatiguing intellectual work which it is necessary to compensate for. This year, tests in physical education have been made mandatory for all those who want to take a baccalaureate."
In the U.S. such a letter might cause no surprise—you still must learn how to swim to get a degree at Harvard or Barnard—but in France, where the educational system has long been directed toward grinding application to the books with no thought of anything else, it represents a revolution as drastic as that which ended the impotent Fourth Republic. Up to now, no French professor would be caught dead admitting that physical education is a vital and important asset to the classroom. The fact that Charles de Gaulle's new Republic now admits it officially is a triumph for famed Mountain Climber Maurice Herzog, De Gaulle's High Commissioner of Youth and Sports, a triumph as great as his conquest of the 26,500-foot Himalayan peak Annapurna, which cost him the tips of all his fingers.