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HERE WE GO AGAIN
As the Russian national missile team was preparing to leave Cuba, the Russian national basketball team was invading the U.S. The basketball team has an excellent chance for the success of its mission. It may bury us. The eight-game tour of the U.S. begins next week. For the Russians this is an early tune-up for the 1964 Olympics; for us it is a last-minute tune-up for the basketball World Championship in Manila in December. (For political reasons, the Russians are not going to Manila.)
Once again, because of the inadequacy of AAU policy, the U.S. team is light-years away from our best. At the last World Championship, in Chile, the Russians humiliated a similarly chosen, similarly inferior U.S. team. The AAU is trying to conceal the quality of this year's team by calling it a collection of "1962 All-Americas." What the AAU means is "AAU All-Americas," which in turn means that 95% of U.S. players are ineligible, since the AAU controls only about 5% of the amateur basketball played in this country. There is not a genuine All-America on the team, and the AAU knows it. The team will be coached in Manila by a pleasant young man named Les Lane, whose qualifications are simply laughable in comparison with those of men like Pete Newell, Adolph Rupp or dozens of others. The AAU's ultimate ineptness is its inclusion of a player named Roger Brown on the U.S. squad. Brown accepted cash and favors from one of the basketball fixers soon to be tried in New York.
A MATTER OF OPINION
In the most tightly reasoned statement on the morality of prizefighting that we have read (see page 70), Father Richard McCormick, S.J., concludes that "unless the arguments leveled at professional boxing as it is today can be answered, I believe the sport would have to be labeled immoral." It is his own conclusion, wisely limited to "professional boxing as it is today." The Catholic Church has taken no official position. Any person, Catholic or not, is free to disagree with Father McCormick.
We disagree with him. Father McCormick bases his conclusion essentially on medical testimony, but medical testimony as to what happens inside the human skull when the head is struck by a gloved fist has so far been speculative and various. Even the mechanics of the knockout are not known with certainty, nor is there unanimity about the effect of repeated punches on the personality. The very existence of "the punch-drunk syndrome" has come to be suspect, since it has been noticed that boxers of recent years don't seem to display it. The old-time punch-drunk fighter certainly was a common sight around the gyms, and a pathetic one, but his symptoms were the same as those of tertiary syphilis, and since the arrival of penicillin the young punch-drunk pug is a rarity.
Sorry as prizefighting is these days, and despite some recent tragic accidents, we would hold that the sport is not so much immoral as improperly supervised. Many a fighter will tell you how much good, not evil, it did him.
For some time now this magazine has hoped that Wimbledon would liberate tournament tennis from the shackles of the past. Because of its enormous and continuing prestige in the world of tennis, Wimbledon has less reason than any other tournament to be chained by tradition and could, therefore, lead the way to open tennis.
Last week Wimbledon took a vital step, but it was a step into the past, not into the future. Shading their eyes from the bedizened backsides of Gussie Moran, Karol Fageros and Maria Bueno, whose below-the-belt attire in recent years has caused more talk than their tennis, the Wimbledon elders ruled that in future tournaments all panties must gleam in unadorned white.