After seeing the telecast of the medal presentation to Tommie Smith and John Carlos and hearing the reading of the statement by the U.S. Olympic Committee, I feel compelled to comment on both.
The apology issued by the U.S. Olympic Committee offends me as being both unnecessary and hypocritical. The greatness of the Olympic Games is a result of the individual's effort and performance, two qualities for which the country he represents should accept neither credit nor discredit. The nonathletic performance of each individual participant is as much his own style as that which he practices in the arena, and it is like-wise a quality which his home nation need not feel compelled to justify or condemn. The Olympics, thank God, are primarily based on a communion of individuals, not a confrontation of nations. It is especially galling that this committee, which speaks of manners and good will, is the very one that stands alone in the highly discourteous practice of not lowering its flag during the opening ceremonies of each Olympiad.
This rapid and condemnatory reaction of the Olympic Committee will in all probability be followed by an equally swift and adverse judgment by many persons in this country. It is doubly tragic that most of this abuse will come not because Smith and Carlos deviated but because they happen to be black.
Yet both were obviously dedicated and serious men who still thought enough of America and her ability for self-improvement to restrict their physical comments to a point perfectly balanced between effectiveness and appropriateness.
November 4, 1968
Basically, I am writing this because I was tremendously impressed by the sincerity, cogency and actual poetry of Smith's explanation of his conception of the deed. It was far more impressive than all the gold-medal performances of the evening. I, as a white man, am very proud that the name of America in the eyes of the world has been linked to black men of the moral and physical temper of Tommie Smith and John Carlos.
ROBERT F. MEENAN
About the Carlos episode. How would it have looked if two winning athletes, upon receiving their awards, unfurled a banner which read "Vote for Nixon" (or Humphrey or Wallace)? As Mr. Ed Ferry said in his letter printed in the Oct. 21 issue, "Sport and schnapps, yes; politics, no."
New York City
I vehemently reject the apology offered on my behalf as an American by the U.S. Olympic Committee. I feel that Tommie Smith and John Carlos acted with restraint and dignity to dramatize the existing conditions of the black man in the United States. When a black man wins a gold medal in Mexico City he is known not as a black American but simply as an American. But when that black American raises one bit of protest against the system, he ceases being that gold-medal-winning American and returns to being the slave he has been for over 300 years.
Men like Smith and Carlos are to be commended, not reprimanded, for their actions. For these reasons I request that both of these athletes be immediately reinstated to their rightful places on our Olympic team.
T. WHITCOMB STANLEY III
To see the world's best-conditioned athletes being carried from the poolside and track as an endless array of stretcher cases during the Olympics is senseless. We can only hope no permanent damage will result to anyone as a result of the "altitude bends." The International Olympic Committee must bear complete responsibility for selecting a site without regard to its high altitude.
To make such a mistake the first time is human; to make such a mistake a second time will be downright criminal.
THOMAS W. SHANE, M.D.
Now that the Olympic track and field events are over, it is quite interesting to compare the results with SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's forecast (Sept. 30).
In the men's events you picked 12 winners out of the 24 and named 57% of the medal winners though not necessarily in the exact place they finished. This seems like a very good performance.
But now we come to the ladies, where only three out of 12 winners were tagged and a mere 39% of the medalists listed. For shame! It appears SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has the same problem as the rest of us when it comes to predicting what to expect from the fairer sex.
•In swimming, women proved less fickle than in track and field, and in the women's swimming events SI picked eight out of the 16 winners with 67% of all those we listed winning a medal.—ED.
After reading Frank Deford's article, The Changing Game, in the Oct. 21 issue of SI, I felt that I should let him know he is a genius. He has devised the only conceivable plan for saving basketball, or baseball for that matter.
Down here in North Carolina basketball is the greatest thing since Pepsi-Cola. With colleges such as Duke, Carolina, Davidson, N.C. State and Wake Forest, it is not hard to figure out why. I attend every Carolina game and there is always a packed house. Whether we play Kentucky or Kent State, it makes no difference. We also have to share the Tar Heels with Greensboro and Charlotte, who also manage to fill their respective arenas.
If college basketball can do this much money making, just think what Wilt and "The Big O" would do to the Old North State.
Chapel Hill, N.C.
Well, the Detroit Tigers did beat the St. Louis Cardinals in this year's World Series, but you'd never guess it if you picked up the Oct. 21 issue of SI. Granted Mark Mulvoy's article (Homers over the Razzmatazz) was written extremely well, and gave credit to the Tigers and the Cards for an exciting Series. But why no color-photo layout, as in the previous week's feature on the Series? This year's concluding episode in the sport that is called our national pastime deserved much more extensive coverage than it received. The series was spectacular, but the same cannot be said for SI's coverage of it.
New Bedford, Mass.
I would like to compliment you on your brilliant coverage of the sixth and seventh games of the World Series. Who else except SPORTS ILLUSTRATED could have covered the sixth game with one sentence and then not even mention the final score of game seven? Could it be that your staff is for the birds?
After the Oct. 7 cover story of the Cardinals and the Oct. 14 story about how the Tigers were seeing too much red we were anxiously awaiting the story and pictures of how the Tigers bounced back to win the Series.
Twenty-three years we've waited and what credit does SPORTS ILLUSTRATED give the world's best baseball team? Two lousy pages and a couple of black-and-white pictures.
It's our guess that you already had the pictures and story of how the Cards captured two straight World Championships.
You blew it.
BOB, ALAN & LES
Your scouting report on the ABA (Oct. 21) was extremely interesting to me, especially because former Eastern Professional Basketball League players Frank Card, Larry Jones and Willie Somerset were mentioned as potentially among the top players in the ABA.
There are quite a few other former Eastern League players with ABA teams and in most cases owners of the Eastern League teams were not compensated for players lost to the ABA.
The NBA teams, on the other hand, pay for all players they receive from Eastern League teams. Inasmuch as we are essentially a weekend league, we have a policy of not preventing outstanding players from advancing to major leagues. We do believe, however, that the ABA method of obtaining players from our league is extremely unethical, if not illegal.
The ABA will never be truly a major league, in my opinion, until it begins to conduct itself like one. Ask George Mikan about the former Eastern League players who are stars in the ABA and how their services were acquired. An honest answer could result in a more interesting story than your one-page scouting report.
We second H. C Brown's nomination of the Boston Celtics' Bill Russell as Sportsman of the Year for 1968 (19TH HOLE, Oct. 14). The comeback performance of Russell and the Celtics in the 1968 NBA playoffs was incomparable. Jerry West of the Lakers put it best when he said, "They can talk about individual players in any sport, but I tell you what, when it comes to winning, there is no one like him. Some of these guys in other sports, in baseball and football, I know they're great, but in comparison.... I play this game, and I know. What has this man won? Ten championships in 12 years. Has there ever been anyone like him? Is there any greater tribute in sport than the simple one of being a winner? Is there? This guy here is the greatest of them all."
Need we say more?
KEITH E. LANGLEY
STEPHEN M. ROLFE
I can really sympathize with your editorial board when it comes to choosing this year's Sportsman of the Year.
With such greats as Bill Russell in basketball, Jean-Claude Killy in skiing, Bob Gibson and Denny McLain in baseball, as yet undetermined greats in football, and possible multiple gold-medal winners in the Olympics, you sure are going to have problems picking The Sportsman.
The only thing you can be sure of is that most of your readers are not going to agree with you.
JAY EPSTEIN, M.D.
I wish you would give Sportsman of the Year honors to the late Jim Clark, because even death had to wait for him to win his 25th Grand Prix victory.
RETURN TO EL PASO
Perhaps you would be interested to know about the continuing work of the Disassociated Students Fund here at U.T. El Paso.
The response for contributions from your readers, from concerned El Pasoans, from people all over the nation has been very generous. How grateful we are. And how good to know that so many share our point of view; that is, the necessity of an education for these young men. More than $5,000 has come in so far—enough for tuition, books and emergency aid for the former athletes for the academic year 1968-69 and for the 1969 summer session.
We hope to continue the fund for at least three years for this reason. Of the 11 athletes who were disassociated from the university track team, eight have returned. Three are seniors, two are juniors and three are sophomores. There is a further possibility that one more of the young men will resume his studies next semester or next fall. Thus you can see the need of continued effort on our part. We want to provide help until all have graduated.
Although individual thank-you notes have been sent to all contributors, I should like to express again my thanks to you and to your readers. It is satisfying to all of us who have worked with these young men to see them back in their classes again.