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The word amateur is derived from the Latin word for love: from this it can be reasonably supposed that an amateur athlete is one who plays a game for love. However, the time is long past when anyone could afford to play a game at the championship level for love alone—unless he happens to be a millionaire.
Last week, in the latest effort to provide an even fuzzier definition for the word amateur, two august sporting councils naively overlooked this simple fact. One of them was the Eastern College Athletic Conference. On the basis of an article in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (March 19, 1962) it decided that young Gene Kinasewich could no longer play hockey for free at Harvard because he had once played for money in Canada. Like many young Canadians playing hockey in the U.S. today, Kinasewich had earned a pittance playing in Canada's Junior A league as a high school teen-ager. For a full year both Harvard and the Ivy League considered him an amateur. What suddenly made him a pro in the eyes of the ECAC (and now the Ivy, too) was that he had not followed the fashion and lied about it. Had Kinasewich, like many of his young countrymen, taken the precaution of filing a spurious affidavit claiming he had never been paid for playing hockey, he could have become a well-paid amateur on a scholarship at virtually any college.
In that case, however, he would have run smack into the second decision of the week: the pious resolution of the International Olympic Committee to bar from competition any athlete whose love of sport has in any way been subsidized—by college scholarship, business sinecure or government handout. The Olympic decision is Olympian, all right. The only trouble is that, if enforced, it would put a swift end to Olympic competition by barring some 90% of the world's "amateur" athletes who can no more afford to play a game for love than they can afford to tell the truth.
Preliminaries have always been as much a part of heavyweight championships as weighing-in ceremonies and prefight predictions. Fight lovers who paid $6.75 to see the big go via closed-circuit TV last week at Manhattan's Academy of Music on 14th Street, one of the oldest and largest remaining theaters in New York, got a whole three hours' worth. The early rounds consisted of canned, sweet Viennese waltzes, followed by a series of colored film shorts. Fish Are Where You Find Them was the first, showing grinning fishermen in Florida, the Andes and Austria. Then came motorcycle racing in rural England and a short on the busy work of a man who catches animals in the Everglades for zoos.
The main event of the evening—aside from the fight of course—was a picture called New York in the 1920s, which turned out to be the film biography of onetime taxi dancer George Raft, with mobsters rampant on a field of Hollywood. As the management still had time to kill when this was over, Fish Are Where You Find Them went on again. When the waltzes, including The Merry Widow, came back for a return bout one critic remarked, "They must think we're in Lincoln Center."
At long last the drapes parted to reveal two minutes and six seconds' worth of foggy fight pictures. As the listless crowd left the theater someone mumbled: "Fish are where you find them."
THE INSIDE TRACK
•Big Eight faculty representatives (their coaches firmly dissenting) are considering upping the scholastic requirements for candidates for athletic scholarships. At present a standing in the upper two-thirds of a candidate's high school class is required. The new rule would require a standing in the upper half. The conference may also limit the total number of scholarships that can be awarded by member schools.