Bil Gilbert's attack on the "nonsport" of skiing (A No-Snow Slope to Nonsport, Feb. 21) was especially cute. It has made all of us southern skiers of the Potomac River basin extremely regretful that we find ourselves so badly disillusioned by the apparently phony resorts in our area. After all, wouldn't skiing be much more enjoyable if the lodge temperature were kept at an invigorating 20°? Shouldn't we picket to have all lifts removed, so that the real thrill of spending hours walking up a mountain to keep warm would not be lost? And, as a final measure, shouldn't we sabotage the snowmaking equipment, so that when we are schussing down Mount Charnita in our overalls and lumber jackets we can be sure we're not being duped by homemade snow?
No. A better idea strikes me. We should sell our ski equipment and go home and wait for the summer, so we can try our luck in the Olympic-size swimming pool. Then another nonwriter can come up with another nonarticle about the nonsport of swimming, because it was different when he was a youth at the old swimming hole, or because there are ladders provided for leaving the pool and the filtering system makes artificial water.
JOHN D. O'CONNOR
Put enough nonarticles together and you get a nonmagazine. The ski industry knows the value of bringing the mountain to Mohammed and enabling residents of densely populated areas to enjoy this most thrilling of sports. At Oregon Ridge we are proud of the fact that our ski school, which is under the direction of Siegfried Gerstung, who comes from the Bavarian Alps, has helped to polish the techniques of many Baltimoreans and Washingtonians who have gone on from Oregon Ridge to Vail, Aspen, New England and Europe.
With his usual clear eye, Bil Gilbert has put his finger on the essence of "outdoor recreation." It is something sought, not for itself, but for the trappings that go along with it—the suntan, the color slides, the ski clothes and the telling-about-it. And herein may lie the key to the Great Society's problem of meeting the increased demand for outdoor recreation. Since it is the illusion we seek, all we need to do is find out how people perceive their outdoor experiences, and then design the outdoors and the trophies to fit their perceptions. Disneylands with mechanical wild animals, a Niagara Falls that can be turned off for remodeling and rehabilitation, artificial snow, hatchery trout, game preserves—all these elements of non-nature can easily be provided in less space and with less expense than the real thing (which may never have existed anyway).
March 7, 1966
And for those nuts who don't want trophies—the rest of the great outdoors can be left untouched.
FRANCIS T. CHRISTY JR.
Chevy Chase, Md.
EAST VS. WEST
We thoroughly enjoyed Hugh Whall's article on our Congressional Cup races (Legislative Status for a Victory at Sea, Feb. 21). We are amazed, however, that in a few short days with us Hugh could so completely unmask us West Coasters. We smugly assumed that our glee at defeating our talented eastern cousins from the ice-and-snow belt had been successfully hidden behind the posture of gracious hosts. It is entirely possible that when our Congressional Cup champion arrives on the East Coast with Columbia for the 1967 America's Cup races other eastern skippers may feel the impact of Jerry Driscoll's magical underwear.
GEORGE R. ORR JR.
Long Beach, Calif.
It seems a shame to me, an East Coast sailor, that your magazine should have us believe that the feelings of East and West yachtsmen toward each other are those of contempt and jealousy.
I gather from such undocumented phrases as "haughty East," "stuck-up East," and "put-down East" that you would have us believe the East has not earned its right to represent the country in the America's Cup and other international events. I feel I represent many East Coast sailors when I say that our opinion of western sailors is one of high esteem and much respect. If there is any jealousy, it is only of the fine sailing opportunities available in the West all year round.
ELLIOTT B. OLDAK
Port Washington, N.Y.
As this is Sunday, I must be careful of what I say but, having sailed for more than 60 years, possibly I may be entitled to answer Hugh Whall's yarn about East Coast sailing vs. West Coast. New York state alone, with its 8,000 lakes, Lake Ontario and the Atlantic Ocean, has more sailboats than the entire West Coast. And I might add that the East Coast doesn't need the U.S. Congress to back us up. I have sailed from here to the Philippines and, thank God, the waters that I have tumbled into along this coast were warm and didn't have that awful congealed feeling of those that sweep the West.
Let the boys out there get up a boat that can beat one from this away. That is good for the sport, of course, but tell Mr. Whall to travel up to the Thousand Islands, and on a nice summer day he can practically walk across to Canada from deck to deck!
UP THE IRISH
Artist Arnold Roth's shillelagh work and the awe of Robert Boyle between them produced a delightful piece about a delightful animal, the Irish wolfhound (The Biggest Dog of All, Feb. 14). Yet for the sake of peace I would point out that we still have a few little old wolfhounds of our own here in Ireland—tucked away in caves, in castles and on islands in lakes.
Our wolfhound, Cormac, here at Bunratty Castle, is Irish and cannot be classified as one of the 500 remaining wolfhounds in the U.S. or one of the 500 in Great Britain. Cormac is worried enough about his past as it is and can't make up his mind whether Finn MacCool was an Englishman who came over with Cromwell, or Wrong Way Corrigan. And as for the dogs from Ireland being of "inferior stock," Cormac swears this is a hard country for a wolfhound to live in, and he'll bay that from the battlements.
CONOR P. O'BRIEN
Re your February 21 SCORECARD item entitled "Dear John Letter," concerning my attempt to get Loyola Coach George Ireland to answer my oft-written request that he agree to play my Southern Illinois University team in basketball, I would like to point out that it was a news-service reporter who wrote the story that mistakenly gave Coach Ireland the first name of John. A hometown Chicago sportswriter then picked up the slip and attributed it to me.
Since I have known George Ireland for some years, I can assure you that my letters to him have always been addressed correctly.
WEST COAST SYNDROME
Your article on Easterner Tom Farrell (A Miniature Snell, Jan. 24) and your comments on his low rating two years ago because of his "unremarkable" 1:52 half miles point out an interesting phenomenon that I call the West Coast syndrome.
The symptoms of this condition are 1) complete and total reliance by Westerners on stopwatches, 2) a chauvinistic regard for their own high school marvels and 3) an ignorance of the less than perfect weather and track conditions existing in areas outside the West Coast.
Fortunately, these western track experts risk no money or else they would have dropped a bundle in recent years. As you noted, the last three top Olympians—Tom Courtney, 1956 (Fordham), Tom Murphy, 1960 (Manhattan) and Farrell, 1964 (St. John's)—plus the 1965 U.S.-U.S.S.R. winner, George Germann (Seton Hall), were all from the metropolitan New York area.
Our track wizards evidently need the advice of a good horseplayer to handicap eastern tracks and eastern weather. Until such a Green Sheet comes out, we can expect our Tommy Farrells and our many other excellent eastern half-milers to be far down in the national rankings—at least until the next Olympics.
GEORGE A. SHEEHAN, M.D.
Red Bank, N.J.
Because of the great influence of your magazine, I thought that the readers of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED might like to know of a signal honor accorded the American broad jumper, Miss Willye White. Miss White has been chosen in Paris to receive the Fair Play Award. Her selection as recipient of this honor was based on wide balloting of members of the AIPS (Association Internationale de la Presse Sportive), following a strong recommendation from the British Sports Writers' Association.
It was Miss White's appeal to the judges at the American indoor championships last year that allowed Britain's Mary Rand to compete in the broad jump (after confusion over the takeoff stripes had caused her to fail to qualify) and, eventually, win the title from Miss White.
By the deed, I suggest that Willye White of the city of Chicago has done more to bolster the reputation of American sport than any number of football, basketball or baseball players. Both in London and Paris she is the choice of sportswriters.
I hope your fine magazine will give this charming athlete her due.