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19TH HOLE: The readers take over
February 08, 1960
SANITY IN SPORTS REPORTING Sirs:Refreshing indeed were the remarks of Mr. Leighton Housh, as reported in EVENTS & DISCOVERIES (Jan. 25), pertaining to "newspaper leadership toward sanity in dealing...with all sports."
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February 08, 1960

19th Hole: The Readers Take Over

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Refreshing indeed were the remarks of Mr. Leighton Housh, as reported in EVENTS & DISCOVERIES (Jan. 25), pertaining to "newspaper leadership toward sanity in dealing...with all sports."

That this should come from a member of the sportswriting fraternity is even more invigorating, since the transition in recent years from able journalistic champions of sports to the current crop of editorializing demoralizers must result in public disdain for most things athletic. That the public continues to support sports events in spite of the efforts of the newspapers' professional mudslingers is a fine tribute to its love for competition and loyalty to favorite teams and players.

The need for "critical self-appraisal" to which Mr. Housh refers has not necessarily evolved of itself—it has been created by so-called sports reporters who for some reason have become dedicated to tearing down any ideals which may have existed regarding athletes and sporting events. They seem to resent any admiration of hero worship and seek to dispel any notions of honor or fair play.

Not that the public has any false illusions about professional sports, nor delusions of grandeur as to some of the motives behind many promotions, but for Lord's sake let us form our own opinions at least on the sporting scene. We've had to submit to written barrages as to politics, finances, world affairs, national economy; and in recent years Ann Landers has even stepped in to solve our own personal problems. So please, let's have a return to sports reporting—with even a little schmaltz from time to time to glamorize somebody rather than pulverize him.
Alma, Mich.

Congratulations to Leighton Housh of the Des Moines Register and Tribune for his speech to sportswriters on the sad state of our moral climate. Mr. Housh raises the age-old question of the extent of the press's responsibility for creating this climate and imputes to the press a capacity for leading the public to higher and drier ground in all things moral and just.

It is sensible of Mr. Housh to assume his profession's share of the blame, but I cannot help but feel the press (like radio and television) tends to give the public what it wants. He states quite correctly that we need "more people who know right from wrong, who are not afraid to dig out the facts in unsavory cases and write the story.... Such people will not be popular, but they will be respected."

If they are not popular, though, I fear their columns may be dropped, just as many high-quality TV shows are dropped for low ratings. There is no single or pat solution, and we need to attack the problem on many fronts if maturity is to be achieved and virtue respected in the sports world and elsewhere.
Gladstone, N.J.

I want to thank you for your excellent and courageous article on the Tennessee Walking Horse (The Torture Must End, SI, Jan. 11).

I have loved horses all my life, all horses, from ponies to plow horses. I'm not an impractical sentimentalist who thinks horses should be kept under glass and not made to do anything contrary to their wishes. I like best the "using" horses, and enjoy polo, rodeo, racing, all good honest work appropriate to the horse's ability and handling.

This is where so many show people fail. They do not have the ability or patience, nor will they take the time to properly school a horse, so they resort to all sorts of mechanical devices and customs to make up for their own lack of skill. Some examples are the long foot and weights, cut tails, ginger, brutal bits, dope for stimulation, dope to quiet them, blocking and false tails. Horses and horse lovers have put up with a lot of revolting nonsense for a long time. This Walking Horse abuse is downright brutality, and I sincerely believe 90% of the spectators would walk out if they knew what was going on.

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