In this world of atomic energy and aerospace, cold wars and hot ones, one can't help but wonder on occasion whether a man really has any business devoting his life to, say, mastering the physical act of striking a ball with a club. And, reasoning thus, one would find surprising the genuine sorrow expressed by so many at the death of a professional golfer—or any sportsman. But the heart has reasons of which the reason knows not. One might as well say it is illogical for people to spend an afternoon in an art gallery or enjoy a symphony.
Tony Lema was a man whose skill gave esthetic pleasure, whose spirit inspired admiration. And when one life has stirred such emotions in other people, its ending is a personal thing. Tony Lema was involved in mankind. And his death diminishes me.
Rarely have I been enthralled by a sport I know so very little about, but Barnaby Conrad's tribute to Carlos Arruza, Homage to a Peerless Matador (Aug. 1), did just that. His superb commentary had me seeing every pass and shuddering with each glancing blow of the bull's horns. I am very sorry that I will never have the pleasure of seeing this great matador in the ring. But I feel that I have experienced some of Arruza's greatness through this story, and that will have to satisfy me.
Barnaby Conrad's article was a moving, fitting farewell to Carlos Arruza, perhaps the most exciting torero of our time.
New York City
UNDER THE RAINBOW
Soaring enthusiasts are almost invariably pleased to find their sport given publicity in a mass-circulation magazine. This is all the more true when the pictures and text are of the unusually high quality found in your article (Sailors of the Shadowed Skies, Aug. 1). There seem to be certain abiding misconceptions about soaring, however, and two of these have cropped up again.
The first is that a sailplane is fragile. Gliders do look fragile, but they are among the most highly stressed airplanes built. Maximum load factors are generally on the order of eight or nine, a point beyond which it is probably inadvisable to go because of the stresses put on the contents of the glider, the pilot included.
The second idea, that soaring is an escape, is a great deal more complex. To the idle passenger in a glider the experience may seem to be conspicuously free of care. There are, in fact, many times when lift is so abundant that the glider pilot can sit back and enjoy an hour of rather easy flying. This, however, is exceptional.
Soaring, at its best, is too complex, too demanding, too engrossing and requires far too much energy and concentration to be considered easy or escapist. It is, in this respect, very much like life itself, offering intimations of immortality with the elation of attaining some cloudy height, or the abysmal dejection of a seemingly hopeless struggle against gravity on some little knoll. Perhaps this explains what draws sailors to the shadowed skies.
RICHARD N. MILLER
Santa Monica, Calif.
Congratulations on your excellent and, perhaps, unexpected articles on the World Cup competition in London (July 25 and Aug. 8). Never underestimate the number and tenacious loyalty of soccer devotees here in the U.S. Soccer is the fastest-growing sport in America today. One sign of the times is the fact that the World Cup final was shown nationally via Early Bird.
Soccer, the king of all sports, can be a great bridge between the U.S. and the rest of the world, and it will do more to enhance America's international prestige than all the economic, political and military power we can muster.
New York City
I would like to start off by saying I truly enjoyed your recent article, Babes in the Woods (July 11 and 18). It makes one feel good to know that there are such fine schools as the Outward Bound to teach young people, especially girls, how to survive in the wilderness.
However, there is one paragraph in Part 1 of the story that still perplexes me. Barbara La Fontaine wrote: "The next day the girls proved to have made out better than I had. Cathi Crowson and Devvie Booth greeted everyone with, 'We had a moose. What did you have?' "
Does this mean the girls actually killed a moose and ate it or just saw or captured it? I would very much appreciate an answer on this question since I have a bet with my girl friend.
Post Falls, Idaho
•The girls did not kill the moose. It came up to them and kind of snuffled around, while they, somewhat atremble, wondered what to do. "I think we ought to talk to it," said Cathi, to which Devvie replied, "What should we say?" Summoning up her courage, Cathi said, "Good morning, moose. How are you?" The moose stared at her a moment, turned and ambled away.—ED.
I have been a Chicago White Sox fan for 15 years—three-fourths of my life—and, if nothing else, that qualifies me as a full-fledged hater of the New York Yankees. I may not be as bitter as a lot of oldtimers out there in SPORTS ILLUSTRATEDland (19TH HOLE, July 25), but in my time I've seen enough of such Yankee stratagems as the back-to-back-to-back home runs, the game-saving circus catch and the patented Whitey Ford shutout to know whereof I speak.
Naturally I gloated last year when injuries, old age and changing times cut the pinstriped gods down to size. Viva la revolutión! The American League, at long last, was a democracy. But this year, heretical as it may sound, I find myself a little nostalgic for the Yankee mystique. It doesn't seem right, somehow, for the Yankees to come to town and be just another team. Beating them still seems like it should be an accomplishment, instead of something you have to do if you want to stay out of last place. So I'm a little disappointed that Ralph Houk isn't working the same magic this year that carried his crippled Bombers to the pennant in '63. I hope that next year he'll be a little more successful, so that I can start hating them again in good conscience.
BRENDAN G. TAYLOR
Fort Hood, Texas
KEY LARGO (CONT.)
All right—that did it (Perils of Paralysis, July 11)! It's time you guys realized golf has been knocked off its pedestal. It's not the high and mighty nonprofit sport it used to be. It is now a multimillion dollar business. So what's this business of hustle, hustle?
I'll tell you what's slowing the game down. Blame those thousands of guys like me, who just started playing. We get out in the fresh air and mix it up with a bunch of guys. So we're learning, and it takes time, but listen, fellas, you make me speed up, and I'll quit. Of course, all the dough we stupid characters spend on equipment, carts, fees, etc. is gone.
As for George Bayer's statement that amateurs "just waste time," I wonder how much business he'd do at his course if he didn't have those amateurs.
I'm with Nicklaus. What he and those boys do on a course is an art, and that's something you can't rush. Of course, if some of them don't care how they look on TV waggling their club 14 times, that's their business—maybe that's why their business is poor.
LESTER N. WEINSTEIN
In my opinion there is only one way to speed up the paralyzed game of golf: eliminate the ladies.
I would like to commend Pat and Jack for their excellent articles on the subject.
•Pat thanks you for the commendation, but doesn't entirely agree with the sentiment. She happens to be a lady—ED.
Thanks for your story about the Afghans (The Fastest Crowd in the Canine Jet Set, July 25). I realize that you cannot devote much space in many issues to dog activities, since those who would be interested are outnumbered many times by those more interested in seeing articles on more popular sports. But your readers might like to know about another show/race dog—the whippet. In certain areas of the country, principally in California and in the Midwest (Ill., Ind., Ohio), whippet racing in conjunction with dog shows is a very big thing. It is particularly pleasing to spectators and is used to draw crowds to the shows. Whippet owners train their own dogs, and this is no simple thing. They work their hearts out getting proper equipment and proper facilities for racing. It really has paid off quite well.
In case you are unaware of what a whippet is, it is a medium-sized version of the greyhound. It was bred about a hundred years ago in England by workingmen who wanted dogs to race for sport and relaxation (and to make extra money to feed the hungry brood at home). Because they could not afford racing greyhounds and could obtain undersized "culls," they bred the whippet, using judicious infusions of terrier blood along the way. The result was a beautiful, elegant, compact and trim racing dog, which was small and easy to keep. They were known at one time as the poor man's racehorse. Thanks again for the dog coverage.