It's not sportsmanlike. President Carter is studying "Inner Tennis," an it's-all-the-mind approach to the game. And George Allen brought in a psychiatrist to help the Redskins in indentifying their weakness.
The tennis book promises victory on the courts once the player has conquered his ego, at which time he may not want victory on the courts any longer, but may find it more deeply satisfying to identify with the other side of the net. The Redskins move is designed to promote victories, but the technique seems to be to make the players probe the motivations, in which case they may discover that just about anything in life may be more deeply satisfying than getting knocked around a field.
But what makes it all highly unfair is the intrusion of the mind, such as it is, onto the playing field. The world is supposed to be evenly divided into two teams: strong, attractive types whose idea of conversation is to tell you why they prefer one deodorant over another, and wiry types with glasses whose idea of activity is to raise the arm before speaking.
If sports are controlled inside the head, this balance is going to be badly thrown off. The beach bully isn't going to have a chance. Colleges will have to offer scholarships to kids who can read. And the highlight of alumni weekend will be watching a bunch of teen-agers trying to psych one another out.
That's fine for people who carry the scars of having been left standing after the line-up in junior high school physcial education, listening to the two captains discuss which will take them on. But what about the kid whose skill is neither mind-set nor motivation probing, but hitting the ball?
These types will have to develop a new specialty. And fortunately there is a vacancy waiting for them.
It's at academic and professional meetings. These activities used to be populated by people who asked only to read their papers aloud once a year, without having to listen to anyone else's. Over the last few years, however, they have turned into dangerous forums, where special interest into dangerous forums, where special interest groups and vehement individuals try forcefully to make themselves heard. A loud voice and a strong arm are what's needed there.
It's time to invite all the old sports into the convention room. There's plenty of room, because the squirts are all out waiting for the tennis court.