Americans are now being encouraged to contribute toward the expenses of the 1976 U.S. Olympic teams. We know their physical training will be superb, but whether their mental conditioning will be equal to the Olympic challenge is an open question. That it was not adequate the last time was proved by the basketball finals in the 1972 Olympics.
Playing a sport that was invented in the United States and in which we have always held world superiority, our basketball team was unprepared to cope with the one-sided decisions of Iron Curtain referees and with the Russian determination to win by fair means or foul. The result was that the Soviets took first place away from us.
The Soviets are so determined to win in the 1976 Olympics that they have already sent over two ice hockey teams to play against U.S. professionals, and a basketball team to play against ur best college stars. The Russian purpose is to learn our latest techniques so as to defeat the United States and Canada even in sports which are characteristically North American.
The outstanding exception to the mental unpreparedness of the American teams in the 1972 Olympics was the U.S. wrestling team. Although wrestling is a sport in which the Soviets have specialized, the American team led by Dan Gable won three gold medals and two silver medals.
Gable, who was unscored upon in all his Olympic matches, was not only physically prepared for his brutal Soviet opponents, but he was mentally equipped to win despite biased refereeing.
In the Midlands Wrestling Tournament recently held at North western University, American wrestlers Ben and John Peterson showed that they are ready to repeat their 1972 Olympic triumphs when they won gold and silver medals. Two other sets of brothers also showed Olympic ability in this tournament, the Lieberman and the Carr brothers. Lee Kemp (who has defeated Dan Gable) and other tournament winners also demonstrated their ability to take on the world’s top wrestlers.
Our magnificent wrestlers clearly have the physical ability to win again in the 1976 Olympics — provided that they are not mentally softened up by reading State Department releases about how the Soviets have mellowed and want to cooperate in detente. If they do, our wrestlers will be in for some rude surprises and could be cheated out of their victory just like our 1972 basketball team.
Since President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger gave their blessing in the Helsinki Agreement last year to the Soviet occupa tion and control of ten Eastern European countries, we can expect referees from those countries to be even more biased and to decide every close Olympic contest against us. Mental preparation as well as physical conditioning are essential if American young men are to prove to the world that we are not soft and decadent, but are superior to Communist opponents in the toughest body-contact sport of all.