Should We Pass Up the Olympics? No

H. H. ROXBOROUGH November 1 1935

Should We Pass Up the Olympics? No

H. H. ROXBOROUGH November 1 1935

Should We Pass Up the Olympics? No


SO MR. GLADISH thinks we should stay away from the Olympics!

Let’s examine the reasons he gives. He says: “Canada’s record has not been so hot;” “only six Canadians, since 1906, have won seven Olympic titles;” "Canada produced no winner of any kind at Paris in 1924;” at Los Angeles “The Dominion made a disgraceful showing in the sprints;” at Los Angeles “The result was one victory which really was little credit to Canada;” and the suggestion that Canadians have been in the Olympics “just for others to beat.”

“Six Canadians since 1906 have won seven Olympic titles.” So says Mr. Gladish. Undoubtedly he refers only to track and field competition. But why start with 1906 and deny an Olympic victory to E. Desmarteau, a Montreal policeman, who won the 56-pound weight throw at the St. Louis Olympiad in 1904?

Why dismiss the first places won by Miss Catherwood and the Canadian girls relay at Amsterdam by saying “these were merely demonstrations?” Certainly neither the competitors nor the spectators considered them just exhibitions.

And why confine Olympic titles to track and field athletics? Mr. Gladish glibly refers to a “hundred or more members” on a Canadian team, and he reminds you that the cost of the Amsterdam trip ‘Vas more than $70,000;” and then, after emphasizing maximum numbers and cost, he reports the results of only track and field competitions, neglecting even to suggest the successes of the remaining seventy per cent who are included in his liabilities and omitted from his assets. Under his method of accounting a man buys a suit of clothes, shows his friends only the trousers, tells them he was “gypped” and forgets to remind them that he also received a coat and vest.

For instance, Mr. Gladish didn’t tell you that in 1908 W. H. Ewfing won the Olympic Revolver and Pistol Shooting title; in 1912 G. R. Hodgson won the 1,500 metres swim; in 1920 Schneider was the Olympic welterweight boxing champion; in 1932 the late Jean Wilson won the 500 metres women’s speed-skating title; at Los Angeles Horace Gwynne became Olympic bantamweight boxing champion; and in two demonstration sports at Lake Placid, the curlers from Manitoba and Emil St. Godard and his huskies were respectively curling and sleddog racing champions. And finally, in 1920. 1924, 1928 and 1932, the Falcons. Granites. University of Toronto Grads and Winnipegs defeated all other ice-hockey teams and earned the enviable distinctions of Olympic titleholders.

True, these champions were not runners or jumpers, but they were just as essen-

tially part of Canada’s Olympic team as any other portion; they were included in Mr. Gladish’s numbers and costs, and to deny them their place in the Olympic sun is unfair to the athletes and misleading to the readers.

Then Mr. Gladish naively dismisses the efforts of Canada’s 1924 team with the words “Canada produced no winner of any kind at Paris in 1924.” Neither did a score of other nations, but they aren’t saying: “If

we can’t win, we won’t play.”

A Good Record

OUT YOU can’t U dismiss the activities of the Canadians at Paris with a brief sentence, so let me place on record some things they did accomplish. In the track events, against world-wide competition, Canadian runners qualified five times in each of the 100, 200 and 400 metres races, and placed fourth in the final of the latter event; they qualified twice in the 800 metres, were fourth in the 1,600 metres relay final, and with Finland were the only country to have both marathon starters complete the 26mile course.

In individual trap-shooting at Paris, R. J. Montgomery was just one point below the winner; and in the team shoot, Canada was second among twelve competitors. Our wrestling team consisted of five members, and three of them reached the semi-finals. Canadian boxers won eighteen bouts before elimination.

In the rowing events, the University of Toronto eight-oared crew was superior to the representatives of eight other nations, including Great Britain, and finished second only to United States; while the Vancouver Rowing Club four, in their first heat, established a new world’s record for 2,000 metres.

Even yet, the story is not complete, for, in a demonstration of canoe races, Canada won four of the seven events, and the Toronto Granite Hockey Team scored 110 goals to three and won the Olympic Hockey title.

Yet Mr. Gladish’s comment on such splendid sport accomplishment is that “Canada produced no winner of any kind at Paris in 1924.” Witnesses in court are swom to tell not only the truth but also the whole truth.

What happened at Amsterdam in 1928? Remember the critic of things Olympic says. “Canada’s Olympic record is not so hot,” and “Canadians . . just for others to beat.”

At the Amsterdam Olympiad in 1928 there were 881 competitors, representing forty nations. Among these forty nations Canada was the fifteenth in population.

Continued on page 50

Should We Pass Up the Olympics?

NO, Says Mr. Roxborough

Continued from page 10

yet she was sixth in men’s track and field results and first in women’s events. In addition, the Dominion placed in wrestling, lowing, boxing and swimming competitions; and again by 38 goals to 0 won the Olympic hockey title. To sum up, Canada entered into six branches of the summer programme; at that Olympiad; her athletes were first, second or third in five of those six varied activities, and in the relationship of scorings to opportunities, she placed ahead of all other nations with a percentage of eightythree.

"Not so hot,” says Mr. Gladish. “Burning up,” say we.

Fine Showing in 1932

WHEN Mr. Gladish refers to the 1932 Los Angeles Olympiad, he decries “The Dominion made a disgraceful showing in the sprints.” and further “The result was one victory which really was little credit to Canada.”

May we offer the facts about that disgraceful sprinting? In the 100 metres race, thirty-three entrants from fourteen nations faced the starter, and after the heats had reduced the competitors to just twelve semifinalists, three of that twelve—Pearson, Wright and Williams—were Canadians. In the 200 metres sprint, only two Canadians started. Yet when the semi-finals began, those two Dominion representatives were again in the best dozen.

Disgraceful? If such a sprinting record is a disgrace, then every country in the world save the United States should bum its spiked shoes, for only that nation excelled or even equalled Canada’s record of five qualifiers in the semi-final rounds of the 1932 Olympic sprints. Indeed such sporting peoples as British, Germans and Italians did not have even one qualifier in either semi-final event; yet their enthusiasm was not cooled by unfair critics.

Later in this Olympiad defense, we intend referring to the use of “foreign” athletes on ‘Canadian teams; but for the present, because their achievements were credited to Canada, let us remind the detractors of the Los Angeles performances of two men whose

trip was financed by Canada, who lived ' with the Canadians, who wore the Maple j Leaf on their jerseys and whose successes j were generally recognized as Canadian.

In the 400 metres race, Alex Wilson bettered the former Olympic record by 3 10 second; in the 800 metres race the times of both Wilson and Phil Edwards were faster than the previous world’s record; and in the 1500 metres race Phil Edwards covered the distance in time never equalled by even the world-famous Nurmi, finishing ahead of such distinguished runners as Lovelock, Nye, Cunningham and Pur je, and gave a performance better than that made by any competitor in all the Olympiads prior to the tenth. Furthermore, considering the first three places in those three races, no other nation in the forty who attended the games excelled the Canadian effort.

In the 400 metres relay final, Canada finished fourth and ahead of Britain and Italy; and in the 1600 metres relay, though beaten by United States and Britain, the Canadian quartette bettered the former world’s record by nearly three seconds.

The girls were equally good, for. with only six competitors, they placed in the finals of the four events and smashed a former Olympic record and a former world’s record.

In addition to these successes, Montgomery Wilson was third in men’s figure-skating, and his sister, Mrs. Constance Wilson Samuel, was fourth among fourteen women’s figure-skating contenders. The Mic-Macs Halifax quartette were third in rowing fours; and the Canadian Leanders, in the finest eights race in aquatic history, with the boats of United States, Italy, Canada and Great Britain lapped in a desperate finish, were awarded third place.

Then, just to complete the story, let us recall that the late Jean Wilson won the 500 metres women’s speed-skating title, “Lefty” Gwynne earned his Olympic boxing title, the Manitoba curlers and Emil St. Goddard won their special activities, the Winnipeg Hockey Club once more gained the Olympic ice-, hockey title, and “Dune” McNaughton won the running high jump.

Yet Mr. Gladish looks through the wrong | end of the telescope, and can se° only I

enough to say, “The result was one victory which really was little credit to Canada.”

Good Prospects

HPHEN THERE’S this business of “imports.”

Consider first the case of Edwards. True, Phil was born in British Guiana and once attended New York University. But, because of his citizenship, he could only represent his native country or another part of the Empire. His country had no Olympic affiliation. so Edwards, as permitted by Olympic rules and as desired by Canada, became a member of the Dominion team in both 1928 and 1932.

Moreover, even seven years ago this colored athlete was a member of the Hamilton Olympic Club. Two years prior to the Los Angeles Olympiad he was a registered student at McGill University; and if he had not been adopted by Canada, the world of sport would have been denied his Olympic performances. Because of his long Canadian residence, outstanding ability and high sporting spirit, any critic who would point to Phil Edwards and cry “import” is scratching furiously for anything at all that he thinks he can make a case with.

Mr. Gladish’s argument against Mr. Edwards lacks force but when he scorns the inclusion of the other three athletes he shows a willingness to snatch any weapon that will aid him in his passion to destroy Canada’s Olympic sentiment.

Earl Thompson, for instance, was bom in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan; Alex Wilson was a native Montrealer; Dune McNaughton was bom in Cornwall and grew up in Vancouver.

When Mr. Gladish says Alex Wilson learned his athletics at Notre Dame he is misinformed, for Alex was an outstanding member of the Montreal A.A.A. before the United States university ever heard of him. By the way, he was also coach of Canada’s 1934 Empire team.

Not only were these three great competitors Canadian-bom, but when they later went to United States they retained their Canadian citizenship, and if they hadn’t competed for Canada the world would never have known them olympically. Indeed, McNaughton, even if he had been an American citizen, would not have “made” the U.S. team, for only three jumj:>ers were eligible.

Are men who seek opportunities in other countries but who are loyal enough to retain allegiance to their native land, to be denied the rights and privileges of that citizenship? When such fellow-countrymen as Thompson, Wilson and McNaughton do something that arouses national pride and world esteem, it would be a peculiar patriot who would suggest, “Well, you did win, but your victories reflect little credit on Canada.”

While Mr. Gladish mourns the past, he verbally weeps about the present and concludes that “based on these figures, if any Canadians go to the German meet next summer they wall be going only for the ride.”

Any sport observer who prophesies a year ahead is merely guessing. In 1927 Percy Williams didn’t place in the Canadian championships. but in 1928 he was undisputed world’s champion. In 1931 McNaughton was only one in a score of good high jumpers, yet one year later he beat them all.

But the foundation upon which Mr. Gladish constructs even his guess is only as substantial as a smooth, oozy plot of quicksand. He quoted the time of the mile race at Winnijjeg as 4.39.6, yet he knours well that a dozen Canadians can beat that mark; that Bob Mitchell, a schoolboy, regularly betters it, and that Les Wade of Montreal can knock twenty seconds off it.

Mr. Gladish says the high jump at Winnipeg was won at 5 feet 914 inches. What of it? Haley from Trail, B.C., and Ray Jansen, a youngster from Streetsville High School, can leap at least five inches higher.

But Mr. Gladish’s most surprising belittlement is to casually refer to that 24 foot 11 inch running broad jump. The reference is accurate, but the chronicler, in his haste to

deplore, didn’t tell the readers that this remarkable leap was made by Sammy Richardson, a seventeen-year-old highschool boy, that it broke a twenty-sevenyear-old native record by more than fourteen inches, and that such a jump would have won the Olympic title in seven of the last ten Olympiads.

Let me tell you something else about this lithe, colored boy. He has bettered 10 seconds for 100 yards, has high-jumped 6 feet I 2 inches, has touched 25 feet in the running broad jump. Last summer, in the Empire Games at London, I watched him attain a mark in the running hop, step and jump that would have won nine in ten Olympiads. Is Sammy going to Berlin “for the ride?" Is he just material “for other nations to lick?”

Canada has many other good athletic prospects. McPhee and Limon from Vancouver; Loaring. a Windsor lad; Fritz from Toronto; “Scotty” Rankine of Preston— these are but indications of abundant material that will inspire Canadian cheers.

If you agree with Mr. Gladish that “the outlook is more hopeless than it has ever been since 1906,” be sure to keep your opinion from the Halifax Wolverines Hockey Team; Hamilton Leanders rowing eight, now champions of all America; “Chuck” Campbell, the best singles sculler in the Western hemisphere; or Phyllis Dewar, the Western swim flash who won four Empire medals and recently made a new world’s record.

Actually, Canada has more hopeful prospects right now than she has had in any preOlympic year.

Cost Not Excessive

DUT LET me make this observation: If Canada sends a team of. say, seventyfive athletes to the eleventh Olympiad in 1936, and these competitors do not win a single event, the venture would still be profitable to Canada.

Consider the cost. Such numbers as we have estimated should make the trip for $50.000. Such a sum is a lot of money, but Olympics come only once in four years at an average annual cost of $12,500.

Who suscribes to that amount? Mr. Gladish refers to “high taxes and people in need.” True, but does Mr. Gladish know that less than forty per cent of the Olympic funds come from Government sources, and that the remainder are private or sport contributions which do not increase taxes or add to economic problems? Doesn’t Mr. Gladish know that the Ontario Government, through its s[X)rt tax alone, derives more revenue in one year than all the combined provincial and Dominion governments give to Olympic Pounds in four years? Isn’t he aware that the total gift of parliaments to Canada’s Olympic Committees in a quadrennial wouldn’t construct one mile of highway?

Why talk of Canada’s taxes and needs, when Japan is spending $350,000 on her 1936 Olympic Team?

What does Canada receive from the contribution she makes? We give youthful Canadians an incentive to physical betterment; an opportunity to visit and to understand other countries and people; and a chance to win world fame. We give Canada headline front-page advertising that could not be bought in the international press; by the apjjearance of our athletes in parade and competition, we impress hundreds of correspondents and tens of thousands of spectators that Canadians are a decent yet aggressive people; and we tell the world that we are developing an international mind and are anxious to be friendly with the customers whose trade has placed us fifth among the nations of the world.

To suggest that Olympic competition jeopardizes the Empire Games is pure fie-1 tion. Furthermore, to projxjse that the cost | of Olympic ventures should be spent instead j on development in Canada is a witless proposal. for without the inspiration and urge of Olympics no money whatever would be raised.

By any yardstick one chooses to use, the ! Olympics are worth while.