Congratulations on one of the most meaningful articles I've ever read (Sport in Emerging Africa, Dec. 19). I hope you at SPORTS ILLUSTRATED will continue to print more articles of this nature, describing the influence of sport as a unifying political force and a constructive channel of mankind's basic aggressiveness.
Now that we have two forces going for peace—education and sport—I feel there is some hope for humanity.
J. E. TAVARES
Shell Beach, Calif.
Your article, A Very Welcome Redcoat (Dec. 19), prompted me to write my Congressman to plead for positive action concerning track and other sports' equipment for all the African athletes and a change in policy of allowing the AAU to conduct itself in such ignorant pomposity as an American institution. When I think of the ill will Kipchoge Keino could spread concerning the American image abroad, I shudder. What golden fields of opportunity we Americans cast aside when we ignore chances to help the African states' athletes help themselves.
My sincere thanks for Martin Kane's enlightening revelations.
ROSEMARY G. WORTMANN
Carle Place, N.Y.
POET AND PEASANT
Thank you for introducing us to the poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko (A Poet Against the Destroyers, Dec. 19). I have not seen his poetry, but his prose is a joy to read. I can understand why John Steinbeck espouses him. His ideals seem more worthy than those of many of our own youthful compatriots.
This is the kind of delightful surprise that makes your magazine so endearing to its readers—complete coverage of all our favorite sports, plus!
B. H. SANDS
I note that the pragmatic Mr. Yevtushenko spells God with a small g. You may think that this man is Russia's foremost literary figure and an athlete of some renown, but I would classify him as strictly bush, along with your editor, who did not insist that in our Western civilization God is spelled with a capital G.
P. J. KITZBERGER, M.D.
New Ulm, Minn.
Congratulations on your selection of Jim Ryun as the youngest Sportsman of the Year (Dec. 19). But what will you do when he breaks 3:50 next year? Or when he becomes the world record holder in the two-mile as well as the mile and half-mile? May be he'll be the first Sportsman to repeat.
I very definitely feel that you made the correct choice in picking Jim Ryun. But I feel that not choosing Pelé (the Brazilian soccer star) as one of the "four others who excelled" was an oversight.
West Orange, N.J.
This year a Danish sailmaker named Paul Elvstrom won the world championships in two Olympic classes, the Star and 5.5-meter. He finished second in the international 505 championships. What's more, he generally uses sails that he makes himself. You have missed one who is unsurpassed in what is truly a sport rather than just a game.
FRANK B. LAWSON JR.
You goofed. Who else but Ara? At least he should have had a tie.
Jim Ryun seems like a nice young fellow, but his philosophy on winning is too old-fashioned.
I concur with Father Hesburgh in his views on football and life in general, but feel that he has lost some perspective (The True Meaning of the Game, Dec. 12). Each institution must make a choice between big-time athletics and a strictly amateur athletic program that is secondary to the academic pursuits of the players. But the time to make the decision is not at the end of the season.
There is no doubt that Notre Dame has made the former choice and is big-time in every sense of the word. As a successful big-time football power, Notre Dame has an obligation to play the part through to the end—and that includes bowl games. Notre Dame's riding the fence in this case is curiously similar to the performance of the team against Michigan State. Notre Dame obviously entered this game with the intent to win, and just when the responsibility to try for the win weighed heaviest, the team backed down.
KENNETH J. KURTZ
New York City
That's just what the country needed, some moral instruction from Notre Dame on the game of football. Father Hesburgh ought to set up a Casuistry Bowl there in South Bend.
HARMON L. GARRETT
Little Rock, Ark.
Do you mean to say that Father Hesburgh and Ara Parseghian belong to the same organization? It's hard to be impressed by Father Hesburgh's noble expressions when his football team displays an altogether different commitment. This is the team that on one Saturday refused the challenge of a team demonstrably its equal, and on the next mercilessly thrashed its weaker opponent.
Notre Dame has paid a dear price for its glory: its own self-respect.
I have a word of advice for Father Hesburgh of Notre Dame. I have remembered it verbatim since I was a schoolboy:
"In promulgating your esoteric cogitations, and in articulating your superficial sentimentalities, and in amicable, philosophical and psychological observations, beware of platitudinous ponderosity. Let your extemporaneous descantings have intelligibility and veracious veracity, without rodomontade or thrasonical bombast. Sedulously avoid all polysyllabic profundity, psittaceous vacuity and pestiferous prolixity, obscure or apparent."
I read the article twice. What did he say, anyhow?
OSCAR M. HOKANSON
BATS AND BUMBERSHOOTS
In your December 5 19TH HOLE you published a letter from a man in Geneva who criticized your article Down with Mary Pop-pins (SCORECARD, Oct. 24), downgraded Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays and referred to your magazine as junk. He stated that baseball players just "come and go," achieve undeserved fame and fortune and don't influence the lives of children. To me and thousands of other kids, Mantle and Mays are genuine heroes. They battle injuries, the fury of the baseball season and opposing players and fans. They give 100% of themselves to their fans. They inspire many with demonstrations of "raw guts." Mary Poppins is only the figment of a writer's mind. You can't go anywhere in the world and find a real live Mary Poppins. She just doesn't exist. I can think of nothing more fitting than a statue of Mantle or Mays in Central Park. What they have given the kids of New York and San Francisco could never be replaced by a book.
And SPORTS ILLUSTRATED doesn't publish junk, except when it prints letters like that one.
New Rochelle, N.Y.
The things that Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays have contributed to the happiness of the people of America, both young and old, will have a lastingly beneficial effect—far more so, I submit, than that of a contrived character whose most memorable feature is a parachute umbrella.
I greatly appreciated SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S commemoration, on the 10th anniversary of the XVI Olympic Games, of those Hungarian athletes who chose to come to the U.S. to live in freedom (LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER, Nov. 28). With your generous assistance, the Hungarian athletes have indeed found freedom, a new home and job and sports opportunities here. However, the successful journey down that "road called Liberty" could not have been effected without the additional assistance of the Hungarian National Sports Federation in exile, which, during the past 10 years, has supported the Hungarian athletes. The credit for this must go to Dr. George Telegdy, who organized the Melbourne team and whose unselfish, patriotic, relentless work since has made this celebration of our 10th anniversary possible. Dr. Telegdy was a well-known amateur athlete and sports leader back in Hungary, and in Melbourne it was to him that the Hungarian sportsmen turned. We asked him to "do something for us." And he did.
As SI pointed out, the Hungarian Olympic athletes have indeed done what was expected of them. In the past 10 years they have won two world championships, one Olympic gold medal, 21 U.S. national championships and 11 international championships—all to the glory of the U.S. and to themselves. At the same time, Hungary, where sport is now based on a professional system, has not been able to make up for the loss of its top athletes.
SI was also right in saying that not one of the athletes has regretted having chosen the road to liberty. On the other hand, all those who left this road to return behind the Iron Curtain have sent word that they are sorry they did.
COUNT ANTHONY SZAPARY
President, Hungarian National Sports Federation, Inc.
New York City
As a caddie, I was very amused by James Van Alen's article, Untroubled Sport Called VAAGG (Nov. 28). I was amused by the way Mr. Van Alen twisted the facts to fit his story. He says, "You need no caddie. You make your own decisions, instead of taking as gospel an opinion on distance from a downy-faced juvenile who quite possibly has severe myopia." It seems from this that Mr. Van Alen is holding a grudge against all caddies of the world, just because he once employed a caddie who could not retrieve the ball that he shanked into a swiftly moving stream with his five-iron.
Hackers are hackers because they don't practice. Hitting practice balls before a round would give the average golfer the exercise that a round of golf lacks, and it would also improve his game. With practice—and the advice that his caddie gives him—a golfer can play more consistently.
MARTIN E. BENJAMIN
That "downy-faced juvenile who quite possibly has severe myopia" knows every inch of his course, can probably beat James Van Alen by 10 strokes, and his word deserves to be heeded.
ART CLEMENS JR.
Mr. Van Alen's idea of taking multiple shots in golf and then selecting the best could set all organized sports back to the Dark Ages. Imagine a quarterback throwing an intercepted pass and then requesting another attempt to hit his receiver.
The VAAGG system seeks to protect the poor slob golfer. Let him help himself by practicing more, and let Van Alen stick to tennis. He'd be doing us all a favor.
Van Alen's ideas are tremendous. I must say that I am very fond of golf as it is today, but I cannot wait to try VAAGG when spring comes around once more.
Thanks for a great new idea.
GARY L. CANTER