Three cheers for America's track and field stars and their coaches for having the guts to stand up to the AAU (The End of the AAU, Sept. 25).
A gold medal each to Tex Maule and to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
Your story hit the nail right on the thumb. However, there are a few facts you overlooked.
Item: You failed to mention that the AAU annual budget averages slightly under $100,000 a year for supervising about 20 sports in all, whereas it's not uncommon for a college to have a track budget alone of over $30,000.
Item: When it comes to running a major meet, the AAU, with all its shortcomings, has it all over the NCAA, as anyone who saw the meets that were run by each of them this year can attest.
Item: Two of the authorities you cite are suspect themselves. You yourselves called the NCAA's Walt Byers one of those "ultimately responsible for the [basketball] recruiting tactics that corrupt young athletes while they are still in high school" (SCORECARD, May 8). And another of your heroes has been called, in my presence, by more than one top trackman, "the worst thing that ever happened to athletics."
JAMES O. DUNAWAY
New York City
After 27 years of coaching swimming and diving in Texas I can honestly say that our AAU (the South Texas Association) has done nothing inspirational or financial to help swimming or swimmers. On the other hand, the annual dues and fees paid to the association by our youngsters have gone to send delegates to the national AAU conventions, buy fictitious memberships for voting power and pay noncoaching officials' expenses.
Many college coaches welcome out-of-school athletes to their practice areas and work overtime to further amateur track. But others work overtime recruiting and won't schedule meets with club teams or strong colleges when they think such meets might jeopardize their won-and-lost record.
The article justifiably finds many faults in the AAU but fails to give credit to the many people who do the organization's work with little reward.
It is commendable that so many individuals donate their time without compensation, but philanthropy cannot be made an excuse for inefficiency at the expense of America's amateur athletes.
It has been evident for quite a while that what the AAU needed was either a shot in the arm or a kick in the pants. By now it has become pretty obvious that it won't get a shot in the arm.
Your article is certainly extreme left wing.
MRS. MILES S. BARTON
That wasn't Antonio Abertondo swimming the Channel (Two-way Tony Goes Over and Back, Oct 2). It was that other channel man, Ernie Kovacs—just look at the picture.
Port Washington, N.Y.
If the very unsophisticated Cassius Clay ("Who Made Me—Is Me!" Sept. 25) is ever lucky enough to fight Champion Floyd Patterson for the heavyweight title, his swelled head will make a perfect target for Floyd to shoot at.
Kindly inform Mr. Rogin (12 Days Before the Mast, Sept. 25) that sailing is a disease. Under no circumstances should he sail again lest he catch the bug—and begin to enjoy it.
CLIFFORD A. MCKAY JR.
Rogin's surmise that Santana's horizons were "20 miles off" is, like Mark Twain's death, surely highly exaggerated. Every sailorman worth his salt knows that the horizon is three miles away. According to Bowditch the rim of the horizon for a height-of-eye of 10 feet is 3.1 nautical miles. A climb to Santana's main truck (or about 60 feet) would push the horizon back to only 7.5 miles.
Possibly Gilbert Rogin was somewhat farther at sea than he realized.
GORDON T. HAWKE
•Because dry land seemed always just beyond it, the horizon looked farther away to Landlubber Rogin than it does to sailormen more familiar with Bow-ditch.—ED.
Thanks for Whitney Tower's accurate article on steeplechasing (The Jumpers Must Have Some Support, Sept. 25). Adding a thought to his quotation from Ambrose Clark about teaching horses to jump, any hunting man or timber rider will tell you that a horse jumps better, safer and surer over a solid fence, which demands respect. If bigger, more solid jumps are used to make a horse "stand back and fence," pace will drop off but over-all racing will improve.
Both England and Ireland have made steeplechasing tremendously popular with the great mass of racegoers. There should be no reason why America can't do the same.
J. ROBERT MCCULLOUGH
The most ridiculous statement ever to appear in a magazine appeared in your pro football preview (Sept. 25). You stated that the Eagles' new quarterback may be even stronger than their old one. Norman Van Brocklin was and still could be the best quarterback in football.
SLAMMIN' SAM II
When you talk about amateur golfers please talk about Samuel E. Marsh, golfer extraordinary from Greenville, S.C. who carried British Champ Joe Carr to 2 and 1 at the Pebble Beach National Amateur (Big Jack Leads a New Wave, Sept. 25).
I saw Billy Joe Patton scrambling on a practice round at Pebble Beach and he did not match Sam Marsh in either shots or scoring while I followed them.
Marsh is only 4 feet II inches tall, weighs (I'd guess) 125 pounds or less. Yet I'd say that ounce for ounce, shot for shot, he is the greatest living example of how much can be done with so little. A story on Sammy would ring even louder bells in the minds and hearts of your readers than the one about Deane Beman.
R. T. CLOSE