I hope John Steinbeck never attempts to write an article on sports, for it would be impossible to improve upon the excellence of his letter on why he can't (Then My Arm Glassed Up, Dec. 20). Big John for Sportsman of Any Year!
Mr. Steinbeck's article was great because he made us realize the true importance of athletics: that courage in sports should be carried over to daily life.
Thank you for the Christmas gift from John Steinbeck. If racing is the sport of kings, his article was surely the king of sports opinions—a wonderful, refreshing and awakening event that proves the sport of sports is "to each his own."
New York City
Edwin Shrake somehow got the idea that Buffalo had no chance against the "blitzkrieg" offense of San Diego in the AFL title game (Another Flag for San Diego, Dec. 20). That offense managed to get the ball inside Buffalo's 30-yard line on just one occasion. Shrake's predictions thus put him about on the level with Tex Maule whose knowledge of the game enabled him to pick Baltimore by a substantial margin over Cleveland in last year's NFL championship game.
If Shrake had understood that games are really won by such cliché things as "team effort," "spirit" and "pride," he might better comprehend how "last year San Diego had the better team but lost 20-7" and this year, although "the San Diego offense is good for three touchdowns or more," they managed to get shut out.
Edwin Shrake forgot one important factor: the Buffalo Bills are a team with a great amount of pride.
You made an error in lauding San Diego's defense and almost completely overlooking Buffalo's. By shutting out San Diego, Buffalo's defense set an AFL championship record.
May I point out to the many eager critics of Tex Maule that this year Mr. Maule, the most knowledgeable writer on pro football in the U.S., picked the teams that finished first and second in both divisions of the National Football League?
In the several years I have been reading SI (or I should say, more and more of SI, for I began by reading Alfred Wright on golf and have progressed with your guidance to the point where even pro football interests me) I cannot recall a story more exquisite, more magical than Virginia Kraft's In the Land of the Tiger (Dec. 20). Thank you for an added delight in this holiday season.
BETTY KAEN JORDAN
Highland Park, Ill.
Has your fine magazine decided to enlarge its coverage beyond the topic of sports—or are we to conclude that you regard it as a form of "sport" when the idle rich have to hire half of the elephants and personnel on the whole continent of Asia to do in one tiger?
Somehow even in death this truly magnificent animal seems the only noble creature in the story.
GEORGE C. FETTER
It appears to me that there is a trend in pro football to get the quarterback. While I concede that football is a game of hitting, the idea of hitting to maim should be ruled out of the game. Not only has the apparently legitimate whipsaw of Johnny Unitas ruined the season, if not the career, of today's greatest player, it destroyed the championship hopes of his team and deprived the fans of the privilege of seeing the best. Y. A. Tittle said, in his story in SI (My Life in Pro Football, Aug. 16 et seq.), that all it took to destroy a quarterback was an at-the-knee tackle when he was set to throw.
I suggest that the rules be modified to the extent that it be illegal for an opposing player to tackle a quarterback below the waist unless he chooses to run and has crossed the line of scrimmage. Further, a passer should be given somewhat the same protection, after he has thrown the ball, that a punter receives after he has kicked it.
Believe me, I have much respect for Alex Karras, who chose to smother a pass rather than take a cheap shot at Unitas when he had the chance. Let the fans see the spectacle of football at its finest and leave the maiming to that other so-called sport of boxing.
CHARLES H. BIRDSONG
Congratulations to SI for belatedly saying what some skiers have known for years (It Pays to Have the Shorts, Dec. 13). Short skis are certainly easier to learn on and to ski on than the 7-foot monsters arbitrarily foisted upon beginners.
After 20 off-and-on years of trying to master long skis, I was coerced into trying 5-foot short skis by "Mr. Shortee" himself, Clif Taylor. That was at Portillo, Chile, and on the third trial run I suddenly sprouted wings on my feet and, for the first time, skied down a steep fall line. Since then I have been on nothing longer than 165 cm. (5½ feet), and this type of ski has carried me not only down the Andes but the Austrian Alps, Alaska's Alyeska and most western mountains.
Somehow, when you see the slopes covered with happy short-skiers, you wonder why it is taking our ski schools so long to wise up. After all, spinning reels made every angler an expert caster, and light, short surfboards triggered the surfing boom.
As a native St. Louisan now living in Oshkosh, I enjoyed Joe Jares' soccer article, Local Boys Make Very Good (Dec. 13). It's good to see a national magazine give due credit to a sport that carries a sort of "sacredness" in St. Louis.
BROTHER HILARY BERNARD, F.S.C.
My heartiest congratulations! More people, young and old, of all nationalities, live for, die for, suffer for, watch, participate in, bet on, read about or talk about soccer than follow the rest of our modern sports combined. It is indeed unfortunate that America is so poorly represented in this game, aside from the few outstanding college powers mentioned in your article.