Amateurs vs. Professionals (1910)
Control of Motor Boat Racing in America
The proposed division of the sport of motor boat racing into strictly drawn amateur and professional classes—with those who race solely for cups and those who are out for cash purses and as members of the trade on the other—has become a subject of no little discussion among the devotees of the game.
President Herman T. Koerner of the American Power Boat Association, the organization which it is thought will take the matter up and be the parent body if the two classes are firmly and separately established, says that the present situation, "a hopeless, jumbled-up one, is scarcely suited to awaken unbounded enthusiasm, which must be evident even to a tyro."
Speaking at length on the existing conditions in motor boat racing and the causes that in part led up to them, President Koerner said:
"I want to speak first about the idea of creating an `new motor boat governing body.’ To do such a thing would be to confuse still more hopelessly the present tangled situation and duplicate the machinery which is now robustly in existence. Such duplication would of necessity be weak, ephemeral, abortive, and certainly experimental.
"Let me outline clearly just what I mean. The accident of holding the British International Cup by the Motor Boat Club of America is due, of course, to Commodore Schroeder’s victory with Dixie II. He happened to be a Commodore of the club when he won the trophy. Unquestionably the British motor boatmen believed this organization to be the national representative.
"Englishmen are sticklers for conditions binding any sporting event, and will insist, usually, upon the minutest detail being observed.
"Even if the Motor Boat Club of America had been able to control its own affairs without interference by the Automobile Club, we have the spectacle of international motor boat races represented by duly qualified representatives of British motor boat clubs on the one hand and a local New York power boat body on the other.
"Therefore, to propose, even for the sake of argument, that there should be the establishment of another power boat governing body, is really to ask for the ridiculous. It would cut a fine figure with all these tails affixed, wouldn’t it? You couldn’t see the dog for tails, and, were the appendices all to wag simultaneously, a modern windmill in furious action would be a tame sight in comparison.
"Any duplication of National bodies can only have a precarious existence at the expense of the vitality of the now existing one. It is very unwise to do this if the best interests of the sport are to be considered.
"Of course, if personal advancement, local pride, or outside selfish interests are to be served, such a duplication might be excused. But if the genuine interests of amateur sportsmen are to be considered first, last, and all the time, then let there be a stop to the weakening influences that crop up so persistently everywhere and upon the slightest provocation.
"The dual existence suggested by Dr. J. M. Gibbons—one section amateurs and the other for professionals and trade—is, to my mind, an attempt to mix oil and water. It seems to me that under present conditions a mixture of these (now) diametrically opposed interests is impossible.
"The ideals of the amateur run counter to the methods of commercialism, and have in every case that I know of resulted disastrously to both when an attempt has been made to govern them under one head. The safest and sanest model, I think, by which the sport of motor boat racing should be guided, is the Amateur Athletic Union. If its principles are applied to the sport of power craft racing such action will result in lifting to the highest plane every phase of our sport, and will compel proper and true motor boat development.
"The American Power Boat Association is now the purest organization. It is growing by leaps and bounds. Its history proves that it is what the name implies. If all those interested in amateur sport will give us a helping hand we shall be able to enforce the strictest rules of amateurism.
"Until amateur motor boat racing is established on a firm footing it is almost useless to talk of trying to govern the professional side of the sport. It will be time enough to take care of the trade interests when the amateurs have been amply taken care of, and amateur racing put on such a firm foundation that nothing can shock or injure it from the outside.
"It is to the best interests of the trade that such a condition be brought about at the earliest possible moment. The trade should discourage any attempt to enter the classes and ranks of the amateurs, thereby to kill with foolish haste the goose that is laying the golden egg.
"Put the thing squarely up to the clubs. Let those clubs that wish to stand out as amateur organizations see to it that the prizes they offer and compete for are devoid of commercial features and the contests for those trophies the same. The spirit of fine sport—in motor boat racing or anything else—must start from the small body and grow upward as well as be spread abroad by the parent body. Unless the desire for clean motor boat racing exists among the clubs of this country there can be no such thing."
(Transcribed from the New York Times, May 15,1910, Sect. IV p.4.)
* * *
Amateurs To Rule In Motor Boating
Power Craft Racing Governed by "Simon Pures" Rather Than by Professionals
The plan of segregating amateurs and professionals in motor boat racing, which is now well under way, is meeting with enthusiastic support from many sources. Along the St. Lawrence River, where during the Summer there is probably more competition among speed craft of all sorts and classes than any other section of the United States, the sentiment is evidently very pronounced for such a division among the devotees of the sport.
The Motor Boat Club of America, which, under its new officers, is fast coming to the fore as a very active organization, is also investigating the subject, with a view of establishing amateur and professional class rules for the regattas which it will hold. This is particularly important, in view of the fact that the club has just purchased a new home on Long Island, near Huntington, and has given orders for docks, a houseboat, remodeling a large house now on the seven acres of land, and other improvements.
A prominent member of the Motor Boat Club, which is affiliated with the American Power Boat Association, who is also well-known to the Summer colonists along the St. Lawrence, said yesterday that the divorce of amateurs and professionals in motor craft racing was the most important step that could now be taken to advance the interests of the sport.
That the division would or could come this Summer he very much doubted. But he said that everything that could be done to bring the result about for the season of 1911 was manifestly of the highest importance. In his opinion the only governing body capable of framing the proper rules and then seeing to it that they were rigidly enforced was the American Power Boat Association.
"There is an incompatibility that separates, and there will always be a parting line between those whose sport means satisfaction and `the honor of the thing’ and those whose activities in the sport mean business, or, in other words, dollars and cents," this power boat owner said yesterday. "This is not to be taken in any way as a reflection on the progressive and capable men whose efforts on the commercial side of motor boat building and racing have made amateur activities possible.
"A strong objection raises itself, however, to those manufacturers engaged in the sport of power boat racing whose activities have been and are abnormal in the furtherance of the exploitation of their wares, be they engines, hulls, or parts. This position is concurred in by many of the really high-class manufacturing firms who have the tact, the judgment, and the honesty to recognize the inconsistencies of the present situation.
"It seems to me undeniably true that the sport of motor boat racing should remain entirely in the hands of the amateur. Not only is it for the interests of the sport that this should be so, but it is the vital concern of the commercialists that it should be so. Unless there is healthy amateur racing—and to my mind there can be none unless the amateurs compete entirely among themselves—there can be no market for the wares of the manufacturers and professionals.
"A strong parent body should be at the service and call of these amateurs, to do their bidding, and to conserve their interests. It is particularly fortunate that at the present time that the American Power Boat Association is such a robust organization, able to step into the newly created breach, and further the work of fostering both the amateur and professional sides of the sport. Let me point out, in a few words, just how the governing may be done.
"The development and adoption of local sections of the American Power Boat Association, recently inaugurated by President Koerner, will be certain to eliminate the faults with which the motor boat racing game is at present afflicted. In the course of the business of these local sections all matters that bear on the sport will be taken up promptly and thrashed out, not in a `friendly’ board meeting of one club or behind closed doors, but in a public meeting of representatives of all clubs in that particular section.
"To accomplish the objectives desired, to give the disinterested lovers of the sport a proper vehicle to govern, and to reach the amateur and the professional—it is needed only to give the American Power Boat Association the proper amount of support.
"I may add that President Koerner of the association recently told me that his organization stood for an absolute separation between amateurs and professionals, such as is now desired by all true lovers of motor boat racing for its own sake, and that he would lend all his influence to mold the excellent idea of segregation into concrete form, and then govern it through his association."
Despite the fact that every prominent motor boat club has already inaugurated a most extraordinarily active campaign this year, none promises to be more brilliant than that of the recently rejuvenated Motor Boat Club of America. Since its change in officers, either accomplished or contemplated, from top to bottom, this organization, holder of the British International Cup and real sponsor, after all, for the success of the race for that trophy, is progressing by leaps and bounds in membership and esprit de corps.
The determination to build a clubhouse at Huntington Harbor—or, rather, to fashion a clubhouse form the structure already on the premises—has opened the door in many ways to this growth. The addition of seventy-five new members within the past two weeks, almost all of them well and favorably known in yachting and power boat circles, is of itself sufficient proof of the virile lease of life which the organization has taken.
It is intended to open the new quarters of the club on or about July 13. There will, of course, be the usual housewarming—the weather itself may take care of that part of the programme—with a regatta to follow. Plans are now well under way for the offering of trophies in the various classes, the rules of the American Power Boat Association to govern.
Having located practically on the shores of Huntington Harbor, a splendid course is available to members of the club for trying out their craft and for the organization’s contests. The waters are almost free of commercial craft, and cab e easily policed with regard to pleasure boats that run out to witness the races. Besides deep water of more than average calmness is amply assumed.
While of course most of the plans with regard to the country site of the club are still in embryo, the tentative ideas more than show which way the wind of endeavor and probable fulfillment will blow. It is hoped to have in time a complete machine plant, capable not only of the thorough repairing of even the big fifty-footers, but of actual construction.
In other words, the Motor Boat Club of America, s the leading power craft organization in New York, will seek to foster the sport in a manner befitting the game. There will be no half-hearted attempts hereafter to do things as one or two individuals want them done. Instead there will be a strong communal effort to work along lines best adapted for the growth and development of the sport itself.
(Transcribed from the New York Times, May 22, 1910, Sect. IV, p. 4.)
* * *
Motor Boat Boom in West is Due
There is a growing feeling in the Middle West that its true sympathies with power boat racing are neither understood in the East nor, as a matter of fact, that they have even so crystallized in the section of their birth that there is anything to understand. As proof of this it is pointed out that, although Eastern-owned racing craft will this year be sent to the St. Lawrence, Buffalo, Detroit, Peoria, and St. Louis, not a word has been heard with authority of any Western craft coming East to participate in races in this locality.
As a consequence, some of the more wideawake spirits in the motor boat racing world in the Middle West are striving now to arouse their neighbors to the situation and its exigencies. There will undoubtedly be a great effort made at an early date to have Western boats entered in Eastern events, to the end that motor boat racing as a sport shall prosper the country wide, instead of being boomed, as now, in only the East and along the Pacific Coast.
A prominent man identified with the sport, in speaking about this unhealthy condition of affairs in the Central West, said that it was due largely to the failure of that section to understand the motives and strength of the American Power Boat Association, the body governing power craft racing in this country, and the suppression in the West of the real news which showed the existing situation out there.
A letter from Detroit was recently received by a leading motor boat enthusiast in Buffalo which showed haw far this spirit of suppression and antagonism toward the East have gone. Part of that letter was as follows:
"Another thing that I wish to call your attention to is this. I have seen several articles published
in the New York Times, which a prominent member of one of the clubs affiliated with the Western
Power Boat Association has kept carefully pasted in a scrap book. These articles have been
shown by this person to many members of clubs in our locality.
"All of us are wondering why we are so completely deprived of real news by publications of our
locality. Not a scrap of information such as is contained in these articles and which are of universal
interest has been given out here. Upon inquiry we find that little information except such
as we are familiar with can pass the strict censorship practiced by the men who try to control not
only the clubs in the Middle West but all motor boats news as well.
"All Eastern motor boat news, the work of an old and successful power boat association, in fact
the most valuable news of the country at large—all are carefully suppressed out here. What the
reason for this may be we can only guess at and I am writing to you to find out the facts. We
do not feel that we are being throttled without a cause, and we object to being kept in ignorance
of the facts."
The Times informant, who showed a copy of the letter from which the quotation is made, went on to say:
"It is not the true Western spirit which manifests itself in this `suppression.’ It is a selfish personal interest that lurks back of all this, a desire to belittle our own efforts and conceal from the West the motor-boat activity of the whole East.
"It does not seem to me as if this large and enthusiastic Western aggregation of motor-boat owners is entitled to the facts. But unfortunately that does not end the perniciousness of the matter, even if it were immediately corrected."
* * *
With the dawn of the 1910 motor-boat racing season and the consequent gathering of the clans devoted to it, there is no little talk relative to a systemized and correctly drawn division between amateurs and professionals. It is not believed that this distinction can be drawn this season, as affairs have advanced too far beyond that stage to permit of new rulings at this time. But on all sides is heard the cry for action for the Summer of 1911.
Of course, professionalism, as it is commonly designated, is as yet a negative and negligible quantity. Professionalism, as such, may not cut much of a figure for two or three years more. But it will develop in due course, as manufacturers put out fast-traveling stock craft and vie with another in selling their product.
(Transcribed from the New York Times, June 6, 1910, p. 8.)
[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page --LF]
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