I just finished William Leggett's excellent article on the baseball war in New York (Trouble Sprouts for the Yankees, March 2), and I can't agree more. The brand of fan known as the Met fanatic is a peculiar breed. I was in the Polo Grounds last summer and saw the darlings beaten by the big, bad Giants by a ridiculous score, but in the last of the ninth, with the Mets behind something like 17-4 and two out, Ron Hunt walked. Immediately the rhythmic applause began and shouts of "Here we go!" and "Let's go Mets!" rattled the rafters.
However, the ancient and venerable Polo Grounds supplied the psychological lift that made New Yorkers clasp the Mets to their hearts. New York loves a winner, but it loves a loser, too, provided that the loser is a real loser. The Mets qualify. But I won't trudge out to Queens to see them. In the Polo Grounds you had a good time and drank beer in the bleachers and took off your shirt and got to the game three hours early to find someone to argue with. It was a large Ebbets Field (R.I.P.). Now it will be Touristville, and after the influx of visitors who mistake it "for a GM exhibit," the Yankees will again draw close to 2 million and the Mets will hire Emmett Kelly.
MICHAEL JAY KALTER
Iowa City, Iowa
Let's consider the possibilities of subsidizing our Olympic teams. In our country, money should be no problem. There are foundations like the Ford or Wheaties foundations that could subsidize our teams, along with the public contributions.
There might be some questions as to whether we wish to make our players professional like those of Russia and many other countries. But in hockey the Russians seem to be more amateur than we are. Their players are being subsidized for taking their time to train and play in the Olympics, while we send athletes that are, in fact, pros, but since they are not being paid by our government to play, they are not considered as pros.
Subsidies would give our teams more time to work together. We've got good players. Now let them get organized. Let's keep thinking about our future.
The recent poor showing of our Winter Olympic team should again cause great concern among all of the citizens of the U.S. Our own Olympic Committee and the U.S. Government should realize that the day of pure amateur sports and Olympic Games for the sake of sportsmanship alone is well passed. It has been painfully obvious to those of us who are interested in sports and who have listened to many speakers of worldwide reputation that the Olympics and all world contests are being used as a tremendous and very successful propaganda machine by our Communist neighbors. They are using the results to try to impress other nations with their athletic prowess and their physical health, with the implication that this makes them a much better country and a much better type of government.
It is also quite obvious that our present competitive sports program in colleges and universities cannot be construed as strictly amateur. I think that it is time that we got rid of the decadent attitude of the present Olympic Committee and that the U.S. Government took a more active interest in helping to support a program for training and developing our athletes.
THERON L. HOPPLE, M.D.
Thank you for a fine, entertaining article on the poetic wilderness of the Columbia River (The Columbia: A Gem of a River, Feb. 24). It is a territory of vast beauty and emotion. It is, indeed, a living thing.
There is, however, a tragic aspect to the exposure of undiscovered territory of natural beauty to a public of millions. The tragedy lies in the exposing. Perhaps it is because of my selfishness that I feel this way. But I someday want to experience this country as Author Robert Cantwell has. I do not want to see it through the frame of an automobile window. I do not want to explore it with the help of directions etched on wooden road signs that indicate the number of miles to the nearest comfort station. I would like very much to roam through the smell of cedar, to catch a glimpse of a fleeing deer or even a bear loping out of a stream but not taking handouts from the tourists while Dad is busily snapping pictures from the back seat of the station wagon.
Once the public—and he can be a dirty animal with his paper containers and crush-proof cigarette boxes—gets wind of this place, I fear the Columbia watershed will suffer and die an unnatural death.
TENETS AND BEATLES
If I remember correctly you condemn rather than condone the mixing of politics with sports. If you still uphold this tenet, then perhaps you would be good enough to explain why your brief article on Fidel Castro (PEOPLE, Feb. 17) abounds with cynicism and sardonic, subjective analysis of his "system."
Let's keep politics out of sports.
F. L. CHASE III
South Casco, Me.
Really! I usually agree with most of your opinions and statements, but I cannot and will not stand for your calling Elvis Presley the "one-man Beatle of the 1950s" (PEOPLE, Feb. 24). Now, I'll admit that the Beatles are No. 1 in the world today, but check with them again in 1975 (by then they'll have been around as long as Elvis has now), and see if they even approach where Elvis is in 1964.
I suggest you call the Beatles the four-man Elvis Presley of 1963-64.
I was astonished to read of the great lengths to which your magazine went in order to photograph Cassius Clay with a million dollars and still avoid showing the face or back of any one bill (LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER, Feb. 24). As one of 9 million coin collectors in the U.S. I can assure you that photographs of U.S. currency, both coin and paper money, appear regularly in newspapers and magazine articles dealing with the numismatic field. I feel you have been grossly misleading in your article and would appreciate an explanation.
•Under the law, photographic illustrations of U.S. paper currency are permissible only if 1) they are in black and white, 2) they are a size less than three-fourths or more than one and one-half times the size of the genuine instrument and 3) if they are being used solely for numismatic, educational, historical or newsworthy purposes.—ED.
Is John Egli really serious when he suggests playing basketball without officials (SCORECARD, Feb. 10)? Can anyone remember playing baseball without an ump and not having at least one argument about the players' judgment? How about boxing without a referee, or football or hockey or any sport? What does he want?
Perhaps John Egli is trying to tell people that the refs are what is the matter with his coaching and his team's play. Every coach must have a ref to yell at to make the crowd feel the offending team could not have possibly made the mistakes.
Let's face facts. The refs are necessary, but everyone makes mistakes, even coaches with wild ideas.
JOHN P. ROHMER
ON THE TRACK
Where did your fascinating tip, "Don't worry about keeping your skis together," come from (SCORECARD, Feb. 17)?
No one has ever said that a racer should keep his skis together. He wouldn't do much in a race if he did—as a matter of fact, he'd probably kill himself in the downhill. However, skis together in recreational skiing is still the best technique for appearance and overall control. If you happen to see Billy Kidd skiing for recreation at Stowe, look at his skis. You won't be able to see the snow between them.
STANLEY D. HALL
I was amazed at your so-called tip to recreational skiers. You indicate that because the Egon Zimmermanns, the Fran√ßois Bonlieus and the Billy Kidds raced with their feet apart it would seem feasible that the recreational skiers do the same. Let me inform you, as I'm sure you have already been informed, that these skiers are not exactly of the recreational variety but instead are three of the best skiers in the world. To imply that the recreational skier should emulate their actions on skis is like telling the average motorist to drive like Parnelli Jones does in the Indianapolis "500."
My concern stems from the fact that for several years the various regional ski associations have been attempting to acquaint the skiing public with the importance of proper learning techniques for safe, as well as enjoyable, skiing. Racing and recreational skiing are not synonymous, and it's foolish to compare the two. Almost all ski area operators will tell you that one of their biggest headaches is the reckless speeding skier, and one of the surest ways of picking them out is to look at their feet to see if they are apart like the "Russian railroad." Due to the continual increase in crowds at ski centers, it is becoming more and more important that the recreational skier learn the proper way to ski, for his own safety as well as the safety of other people. To advocate skiing with your feet apart because it is comfortable is ridiculous as well as being extremely dangerous.
USEASA certified ski instructor