The first two paragraphs of Dan Jenkins' article on Warren McVea and other Negro backs (You've Got to Have Some "O," Oct. 16) suggest to me that some colleges might operate under the policy that the only good Negro student is an exceptionally athletic Negro student. Like the people in Texas, I enjoy and am proud of the achievements of Warren McVea on the football field, yet I wonder if the University of Houston would have accepted his application if he had been only a straight-A student throughout high school. Would SMU have enrolled Jerry Levias if he had been only a national-award-winning science student? How many colleges in America, anywhere in America, would give scholarships to Negroes with excellent scholastic records but with little or no athletic abilities?
This, I believe, illustrates the problem of Negro acceptance in America. Negroes are put into that special group of people who have to prove themselves not just satisfactorily, but spectacularly, in some field of endeavor like sports, entertainment or the arts so as to be the equals of us untalented whites with belly flab and high school diplomas. A Negro cannot be average. He may have a hilarious sense of humor, tremendous generosity, a kind heart, a friendly smile and likeable manner—in fact, the best personality in the world—but if he can't run like Bob Hayes or sail down the field like Gale Sayers or hit homers like Willie Mays, he doesn't stand a chance of being accepted by many white people.
Of course, we should recognize, as magazines like SI do, the great athletic prowess many Negroes have. But we should also recognize the other qualities that make them men and women—human beings—worthy of respect and friendship.
In one paragraph you scold the people who think Warren McVea is getting more than the normal football scholarship at Houston, and in another paragraph you elaborate on the gold tailor-made suits and slacks he wears. How many "affluent" citizens can afford separate tailors for suits and slacks? Of course, the average reader does not know McVea's financial status. Maybe his family is very well off and sees to it that he lives comfortably. The average scholarship athlete in most colleges gets only enough to cover the necessities. Since Houston is on a three-year probation for recruiting violations, one has to wonder if all is strictly above board.
October 30, 1967
As for southern schools recruiting Negro athletes, I think that your article is not up to date. There are quite a few Negro athletes in southern colleges now. Even Mississippi has one.
At any rate, I do not believe that Warren McVea would have finished his freshman year at any other college with the attitude that he has, putting himself above the team, practicing and playing only when he feels like it. I think that this article really showed McVea in a very poor light. Or is that his true character?
After reading your story about Warren McVea, I have lost a lot of respect for a player I had thought to be great. Any player who will not carry out his assignment on a play, no matter what the score, deserves to be disciplined, possibly kicked off the team. McVea seems to have Houston and Coach Yeoman under his control. Joe Don Looney was important to his Oklahoma team, too, but Bud Wilkinson kept control and disciplined Looney when he needed to.
Furthermore, I do not consider watching a team like Georgia Tech to be like watching "a clumsy baton twirler." In Lenny Snow, they have a very exciting runner who gets his yardage without a lot of daylight. I might also add that Lenny goes into the game and carries out all his assignments when told to do so.
The article by Dan Jenkins on Warren McVea was sickening. This is nothing but racial bias in reverse. Let's not have any more such articles in your fine magazine. Let the civil rights crusade be carried on by others than your feature writers. I want to read about sports in SI—black or white—but sports only, not social lectures or Negro-supremacy balderdash!
WALTER E. BACK
El Dorado Hills, Calif.
I am a North Carolina State alumnus, and as soon as I received the October 16 issue I hurriedly turned to the college-football section. After all, my team, a 27-point underdog, had beaten Houston—and some Texans had been betting the Wolfpack would not even show up for the game!
Well, I finally located, in an article about "Wondrous" Warren McVea, some mention of my team. It seems that Houston just quit and handed the game over to the Wolfpack, without so much as a whimper.
I refuse to believe that the No. 2 team in the country could possibly be a one-man team. Hard hitting causes fumbles. Good defensive teams make interceptions happen. Furthermore, I do not think Mr. Jenkins even saw the game. If he did, he surely missed a good story.
RICHARD H. STICKNEY
Too many people think that the Red Sox lost the World Series. In truth, there was no loser. St. Louis won the Series gamewise 4-3, but not handily in four or five games as some predicted.
The Red Sox won the pennant in a very close and dramatic race, a pennant expected by no one but the Red Sox themselves. Boston fans and players were satisfied, and many felt that the World Series would be a little anticlimactic. But how can the World Series ever be anticlimactic, and how can any team not long to win it?
Down quickly 3-1 in games, the Red Sox rallied, as they did all year, to tie up the Series and came as close to winning as any young team (100-to-1 shots to win the pennant and underdogs throughout the Series) can be expected to.
So praise the Cardinals, if you want, for they played a fine Series and showed what a good team they are. But please don't, in the same breath, call the Boston Red Sox losers, for losers they're not.
ROGER N. LERMAN
You and I both know that baseball is the national pastime. The competition is great, and everyone likes to win. The American League race was possibly the most exciting of all. We also know most of the people connected with baseball show good sportsmanship. So can you please explain to me why National League President Warren Giles always has to rub it in when the National League wins an All-Star Game or a World Series? This year's Series was a great one. There was good feeling all around until Warren Giles got to the microphone in the Cards' locker room. Instead of praising the Series and the game, all he did was exclaim how great the National League is. This isn't the first time he has done this, and the repetition gets boring. When Stan Musial got the microphone it was a different story. The first thing he did was congratulate Boston. Is Warren Giles too big a man to show some sportsmanship?
I am a Phillies rooter and I think National League baseball is good baseball. But so is the American League game. Perhaps the National League should have a big-league president—someone like Joe Cronin, who did nothing but praise both teams after Baltimore swept Los Angeles last year.
Being a National League fan, I am not given to praising an American League team. But here's hats off to a gutsy bunch of Red Sox. They have nothing to be ashamed of.
Back home in New Zealand I had always considered a World Series to be much ado about nothing. However, the heroics of Yaz, Brock, Gibson and Lonborg—dazzlingly reported and photographed by SPORTS ILLUSTRATED have convinced me that there is no finer or more exciting sporting event than a World Series, even for a Kiwi who could not work out all he subtleties of the play.
SPIRO B. ZAVOS
Having read Mr. Richard Ballantine's letter (19TH HOLE, Oct. 16), I feel compelled to reply. To say that the magnificent performance of a champion like Damascus was "a tawdry performance worthy of a $75 nighttime handicap on a Midwestern carnival grounds" is absurd. I grant that it somehow seems unfair to force the pace with horses (Hedevar, Great Power) that were never intended to win; nevertheless, this strategy is permissible on the racetrack. Any sprinter must expect this when attempting a distance race. Concerning the other jockeys shouting at their horses and thereby exciting Dr. Fager—once again, this happens in most any race. It was not a brand-new tactic designed specifically for trial in the Woodward Stakes.
As for informing the betting public of the strategy to be used by the entries, anyone who bet Dr. Fager to win (presumably Mr. Ballantine did so), anyone who went to the track that day to see the race, or who had enough interest to write a letter of complaint about the tactics utilized, must certainly have been aware of the purpose of the entries. I myself thought Dr Fager's jockey would lay off the pace in an effort to conserve him for the finish. However, this did not occur and, therefore, no one can say whether Dr. Fager would have run a better race in this manner. At any rate, Damascus proved himself the better horse in the race. Unfortunately, every winner is accompanied by one or more losers and, in this case, the losers appear to have been Dr. Fager and Mr. Ballantine.
I do not feel that Dr. Fager's status as a true champion is in doubt. I feel the race should be viewed as an encounter of the best horses in training and not as a means for the $2 bettor to win 80¢. Certainly there is always the desire to back one's choice, but there is no reason to offer excuses should he lose. Barring any mishap, there will be another day for Dr. Fager and, hopefully, for Mr. Ballantine as well.
Prospect Park, Pa.
The degree to which Mr. Stanley V. Wright's opinion (19TH HOLE, Oct. 16) on the proposed boycott of the Olympic Games by black athletes is "humble" has no relationship whatsoever to its accuracy. If Mr. Wright would take the time to talk to ghetto people or even read the surveys of white opinion, he would revise his figures drastically. His own selfish interest in this matter as one of the U.S. Olympic track coaches is enough to render his opinion unworthy of consideration.
As to the other letters on this matter from the so blatantly "liberal," "good," "well-meaning" white majority of your readers, they are full of the same old meaningless clichés that are altogether useless to the vast majority of black people struggling for their freedom. I for one support Tommie Smith and applaud him as a genuine hero in this struggle.
JAMES H. SPRINGER
The Bronx, N.Y.
I read with great interest your note in the October 9 SCORECARD entitled "Low Men on the Totem Pole." At issue is your statement that the Super Sow Award was "invented" by Georgia Tech Offensive Line Coach Dick Best wick. I consider Bestwick one of the nation's finest coaches. Nevertheless, I must point out that, according to an article from the Oct. 5, 1966 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the idea for the "Hog" award was instead invented by Pitt's offensive line coach, Jim Royer. Bestwick was a member of the Pitt coaching staff last year, and it would be my suspicion that the idea was smuggled from Pitt to Georgia Tech.
It's tough enough when you're losing, like we are now at Pitt, but when you can't even get credit for inventing such things as the Hog Award, then you've got to wonder if there's justice in this world.
University of Pittsburgh