SAFARI: MENTAL REACTIONS
The lady has written a masterpiece. I refer to the article This Was My Africa (SI, March 10).
Ever since my boyhood hero Theodore Roosevelt hunted in Africa in 1909, I have been reading hunting stories about that continent, especially those pertaining to elephants.
It was not until last year that I was able to hunt there myself. I covered the same ground as Virginia Kraft portrayed in her story, and I shot an elephant in the same area along the Tana River. As she says, "I don't really understand why I wanted so much to shoot an elephant." Neither could I understand why I wanted to hunt them except that some compelling urge steered me on until I finally had the tusker at my feet. Then...the most peculiar emotion overcame me which I could never describe. I have experienced emotional reaction with other big game, but nothing to match that of downing my elephant.
Probably it is the letdown from intense anticipation and concentration similar to the climax of an important horse race. Anyway, Virginia has been able to capture that mental reaction and put it on paper. The story is fascinating and factual. It made me homesick for Africa and the elephant country.
GEORGE H. LESSER
March 31, 1958
What manner of people are these, who kill animals, not for the meat, nor for the hides, nor even for defense against marauders who threaten livestock, but solely for the sake of killing? I can understand bullfighters killing (and they do it with a sword, not a small cannon), because it is their livelihood and also because the carcass of the dead bull is not left to carrion birds.
I realize that this letter will not change anything in the least, but I write it in the hope that my protest against wanton slaughter of animals will be read. Incidentally, I am not a "bleeding heart," as hunters like to brand people who feel as I do. I have enjoyed and participated in sports all my life. However, the so-called "blood sports" I can do without.
•The editors of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED have over the years received many hundreds of letters on big-game hunting. From these it is plain that the communications gap between those who are drawn to trophy hunting and those who have an instinctive aversion to the killing of animals is well-nigh unbridgeable, as the letters from Messrs. Lesser and Yanez, which are typical, indicate. This is not surprising, because historically and emotionally there exists a great schism in the world of sport. On the one side are athletics or games; on the other, blood sports. Few sportsmen can make a real commitment to both.
Games, such as track and field and the team sports, owe their origin directly or indirectly to festivities related in ancient times to religious ceremonies or tribal celebrations—for example, the Greek Olympics or the endurance tests at one time common to many American Indian tribes. These festivities were spirited demonstrations of man's physical endowments, stamina, speed, skill and grace. The victor's reward was of symbolic value only, a wreath of laurel or a bit of ribbon. This esthetic concept of sports today finds its highest expression in a superbly conditioned runner's competing not against his fellow men, but against the abstraction of time, i.e., the four-minute mile.
Blood sports, on the other hand, were born of grim necessity: survival in war and peace. Ancient man hunted animals for food even before the discovery of fire, and the skills necessary to taking an animal by stealth and cunning were as useful in warfare. What differentiates blood sports from games is that their goal is the acquisition of a trophy without which in the final analysis the sport loses its meaning. It is not true, however, to say that the kill is the beginning and the end of blood sports such as big-game hunting. Some 40 millennia ago Cro-Magnon man translated the pleasures and beauty of the hunt into exquisite cave drawings. And, speaking of big-game hunting, Theodore Roosevelt, one of the few men who understood both blood sports and athletics, could find no words to express "the hidden spirit of the wilderness—its mystery, its melancholy, its charm...the awful glory of sunrise and sunset in the wide, waste spaces of earth, unworn of man."—ED.
ROAD RACING: SAFE FOR WHOM?
I would like to call attention to the fact that the auto race held at Monza, Italy was boycotted by the group of race drivers who were also the principal participants in the recent disastrous race in Havana, Cuba (SI, March 10).
It should be remembered that the Monza race was held on a closed course with adequate crowd control. However, this group of drivers stated that the Monza course was "not safe" and that they refused to participate in the race for that reason. In spite of the obvious unsafe condition of the road course in Cuba these same men did race on it. In five laps they scored seven spectators dead and 31 others injured.
Now the thing that comes to my mind is just how do these men define the word safety and who is included when they speak of safety?
I think these men know the full meaning of safety insofar as they themselves are concerned, but they refuse to apply it to the spectators. Whatever the safety problems at Monza were, the important thing is that the Monza race was nearly stopped by a very few influential drivers' complaints about the safety of the track.
Why in the name of common sense don't these and dozens of other safety-minded drivers take hold of this issue and use it where it is needed—in a drive for spectator safety.
CHALMERS M. GOODYEAR
HOT RODDERS: FURTHER DEFINITION
I want to thank you for pointing out the difference between real hot rodders and the type of person Mr. Prewitt thinks is a hot rodder (19TH HOLE, March 10). Though I am 41 years old, I have long been a hot rodder, having built several racing boats and engines, one of which won the national championship in the 7-liter class for me in 1951. Since then I have built a hot-rod ski tow boat (see above) and am now building a sports car using a Kurtis Indianapolis chassis and aluminum body with a hot-rodded Chrysler engine, which I built up. At present I am sponsoring a local hot-rod club which is trying to get the use of part of the local airport for a drag strip.
Thank you again for helping us out with your article.
FRED I. SUTTON JR.
TURF: THE EVIDENCE
From the standpoint of a $2 bettor who cares little about improvement of the breed, your coverage of the foul in the Flamingo (SI, March 10) was excellent. Your pictures should convince even those who had $2 on Jewel's Reward's nose that there was dirty work in the stretch.
SQUASH: FAIR LADIES
It's always nice to see news and views of squash racquets, especially women's, in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (SCOREBOARD, Mar. 10). But when your esteemed magazine describes Peg Carrott as a "better than fair" player I must, in all fairness, protest.
After all, Peg split matches with Baba M. Lewis, runner-up in the nationals, and beat me fairly and squarely four times this year—a pretty fair record.
•Jean McCormick, a "better than fair" squash player herself, ranked fifth nationally in 1957, this year was beaten by sixth-ranked Peggy Carrott in the nationals and in the Massachusetts, Connecticut and Pennsylvania state tournaments.—ED.
THE FISH OF DISTINCTION
The Marylander does not bet on the horse mammal, shoot the duck bird or angle for the rockfish. If any of the Outdoor Writers ("Never Say Fluke," E&D, March 3) will venture no farther from their Baltimore headquarters than to "Mash" market, he will learn that what the New Englander calls the striped bass and what hinterland beaneries term the rockfish is known simply, but definitely, as the rock.
I lived and fished in Maryland for many years. Moreover, in certain sections—say Tangier Sound—a man may go fishing for trout or blues, but when he contemplates taking the rock, then he is said to be "going rocking."
The Maryland nickname is an affectionate shortening of this species' scientific name Roccus saxatilis. It has the advantage of brevity, the authority of science and authenticity gained from long usage. Furthermore, it is unique and distinguishes this remarkable fish from any and all of the unrelated, nonaffiliated fishes with the word "bass" in the name.
J. G. SPICER JR.