The Pacific rainstorm that for one dark moment threatened to engulf Squaw Valley fled across country and lost itself at last in the broad Atlantic, its threat mercifully unfulfilled. Like a guest room bed beckoning with clean white sheets, the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics lay bright and inviting beneath a blanket of fresh snow as the United States, for the first time in more than a quarter of a century, prepared to play host to an aggregation of the world's hottest cold-weather athletes.
As Americans privileged to speak for at least some of the world's sports fans, we on this magazine join in America's hearty welcome to the 800 athletes competing in California this week. We wish them all good sport, and we wish them success not only in their immediate competition but in the greater mission their presence here implies: the propagation of the principles of good sportsmanship throughout a world rent and riven with meaner motives.
The gathering of athletes from widely differing backgrounds in Olympic competition is not in itself a guarantee of universal fellowship. Stripped of its nobler standards, athletic competition can breed enmity as easily as amity. The banner of the Olympics has already been ripped and torn more than once on the sharp edges of the Iron Curtain that divides the world in political hatreds. International differences have often been played out in political pantomime on the arenas of sport, setting nations farther apart rather than bringing them together.
Last week, as international tensions grew tighter over the problem of Berlin, the U.S. State Department decided not to permit a group of East German sportswriters to attend the Games at Squaw Valley. The official reasoning, according to State, was that the East German reporters were seeking only an opportunity to "inject a harsh political note into the friendly competition."
Communist reporters may not be famous for providing completely objective boxscores on democracy's athletes. However, at this point, it scarcely matters. What matters more is that the State Department has already injected a "harsh, political note" into the friendly competition.
Granting the State Department's privilege to take what political steps it feels necessary, we deplore the presence of that harsh note at Squaw and earnestly hope it will be quickly quenched.
Easy to overlook amidst the noisy formation of new major leagues for baseball and football is the bid of another sport, bowling, to set up a national professional circuit.
Kingpins of the proposed bowling league are two Texas lane owners, Curtis Sanford of Dallas and Charles Weisenburg of Fort Worth. They point to the 27 million Americans who are bowling now and to the fact that the number has been increasing at the rate of 12% or so a year. The founders of the proposed National Bowling League see in this the kind of interest that could turn turnstiles for intercity professional matches. Preliminary plans call for teams of seven players, representing franchise-holding cities from Los Angeles to New York, which would roll six nights a week for 36 weeks.