In spite of the altitude, turistas, stomachaches, sore throats, the disgraceful exhibition of John Carlos and Tommie Smith, the idiotic behavior of the members of the Harvard crew, two atrocious decisions in the boxing matches, the wrangling over South Africa, the threatened boycott in this country, charges of collusion in the wrestling matches, etc., the Olympic Games in Mexico City were a grand show, brilliantly described by your John Underwood. World and Olympic records were tumbled, and the management and scheduling were perfect against the magnificent settings that the Mexicans provided.
ROBERT W. WOOD Jr.
God bless Pappy Gault, a really fine gentleman. The most poignant moment at the Olympics, for me, was not the spontaneous snake dance after the final ceremony—it was Pappy reassuring Albert Robinson as they leaned across the ropes after that truly unbelievable decision.
I understand the Russians are going to revamp their sports program because their athletes did so poorly. What, if anything, are they going to do about their contribution to the officiating? It was their referee who put the KO on Robinson and robbed him of a gold medal.
NANCY E. CHAPMAN
In my mind the one sore spot in the summer Olympics has been and continues to be the unofficial scoring system, which tends to turn the emphasis from individuals to nations. The total medal tally, purely unofficial of course, degrades the entire spirit of the Games.
November 11, 1968
Unfortunately, the emphasis put on team medals seems to be growing and undoubtedly will continue to do so. I think that a more equitable system should be established as long as there is going to be such a system at all. How can the U.S.A. or the U.S.S.R. pretend to have won the Olympics over a country such as Kenya when the larger countries have sent so many more competitors?
I propose a scaled system whereby a gold is worth five points, silver three and bronze one, and where the number of members of each team is divided into the medal value to determine the point total of that medal.
For example: Kenya, with 50 competitors, wins a gold medal in the 10,000 meters. Thus, 50 into five (gold medal tally) equals .1. Note: the U.S.A. with, say, 200 competitors wins a gold medal in the pole vault: the value of that gold medal would be 200 into five, or .025.
I believe this system would bring the total medal count to a certain parity and would emphasize the individual aspects to a greater extent. It would also create greater interest in a total-medals race which would not be out of reach of any country, regardless of size.
WHITNEY B. SMYTH
If the U.S. Olympic Committee had stood up for Tommie Smith and John Carlos more strongly or had quietly asked Mr. Brundage to consider the prudence of the IOC demand in requiring what would obviously be interpreted as an antiblack action in the racially troubled U.S., the IOC might have backed down. In the event the IOC had still demanded action by the U.S., a refusal by the U.S. Olympic Committee, even if it resulted in the suspension of the entire U.S. team, might have done more for racial cooperation at home than the great medal total will do for the American image around the world.
JAMES E. AUER
Wasn't there ample opportunity for black pride to be demonstrated in the excellence of black competition? Wasn't the black athlete given the best chance of all to show his mettle in the many great performances he gave? And, what about the African black competitor? Why weren't our black athletes spending less time congratulating themselves and comporting like ultra prima donnas and more time showing greater interest in and sportsmanship toward their racial brethren from Ethiopia, Kenya, the Caribbean and other areas? The Games were marked by many excellent examples of comradeship and sportsmanship between athletes, but, even though I watched carefully for it, I saw none between our black athletes and any others except themselves. And, isn't that what the Olympics are supposed to be all about?
JOHN R. PRESTON
In reference to John Underwood's article, Lost Laughter, Sept. 30: the Olympics proved that the Kenyans got the last laugh.
Does John Underwood, too, now wake up with black faces laughing at him? It occurs to me that he was used by the Kenyans in a clever campaign to psych their opponents—and especially Jim Ryun—into underestimating them.
An immense amount of thanks should be given to former Coach John Velzian who paved the way to the gold and silver for Kenya.
The background provided by SI for this Olympics was truly outstanding. John Underwood's article was just great.
P. G. BURKHART
I have just finished reading with much interest Frank Deford's story (The Furlough Was Salubrious, Oct. 28) on Rick Barry's return to basketball. As you may or may not know, Rick spent last year playing for our radio station team, the KYA Radio Oneders, who raised in excess of $60,000 for northern California high schools. Needless to say, the mere presence of Barry meant an automatic sellout crowd wherever the team played. Rick really did not have to do something of this nature, but he went out of his way for us because of his feeling for young people and his desire to help anyone he can.
Since the days of John Hadl and Gale Sayers, the University of Kansas Jayhawks have been starving for a good football team. This year Kansans everywhere, including transplants like me, seem to think they have it.
So does William Johnson. His fine article (Hawk in a Cornfield, Oct. 21) was a most welcome credit to Pepper Rodgers' 1968 crew. It is a story which I hope will be repeated against the remaining Jayhawk foes.
Should the menace in the Midwest keep up the good work, I look forward to SI's coverage of the rest of the Jayhawk season. As you know, the Cornhuskers are far from being the end of the line of formidable Kansas opponents. The Rodgers machinery has to grind against Oklahoma and Missouri, and some believed that Colorado was a solid threat.
Win or lose, however, I'd like to thank William Johnson and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for bringing to life a real surprise in the Top Ten, the Kansas Jayhawks.
HANK BUSCHER JR.
Forest Heights, Md.
Many readers must be confused by the statement that it took 43 years for the Harlem Globetrotters pro basketball team to play in New York's Harlem (SCORECARD, Oct. 28). The home base of the Globetrotters is Chicago's Harlem. Between the 1920s and 1940s, New York Harlem's pro team was known as the New York Rens and they played at the old Renaissance Casino, a ballroom holding about 1,500 spectators located a good basketball throw from famed 125th Street. The Rens never lost at home, and it was rumored that they played with six men, the referee included. Many memorable games at the Casino in the 1930s were played against the Original Celtics, with Nat Holman, Joe Lapchick, Dutch Dehnert, Pete Barry and Davey Banks.
•Chicago is home base, but the Harlem in the name refers to New York, to indicate that Saperstein's Globetrotters are Negroes.—ED.
For eight months I could find no nominees for Sportsman of the Year, then Arthur Ashe served himself into the picture. Denny McLain seemed a likely choice, but Bob Gibson, then Lolich made for too many complications. LeRoy or O.J.? Ashe in the stretch. Still Ashe. Then last night I changed my mind. Only one vote this year: Debbie Meyer. Even Tass has backed this play. Who have you got better? Keino? He lost two before he won. No. A woman for Sportsman of the Year: Debbie Meyer.
BARRY M. VOLKMAN
Sportsman of the Year has to be the Black Athlete. You should award four urns to the men whose combination of militance, generosity of spirit and accomplishment best represent that which is good in Man.
These urns should go to:
1. Jackie Robinson, who found the right formula against heavy odds;
2. Bill Russell, who affirms the combination in a new way each season;
3. Bob Gibson, a winner who was first to congratulate the other winners;
4. Arthur Ashe, whose youth and whose eloquence in word and deed symbolize the promise of full equality. Perhaps the name of an Olympian like Lee Evans or Bob Beamon should be added.
DAVID W. PUGH
Albuquerque, N. Mex.
Bill Toomey's outstanding performance in the decathlon of the Olympics was one of the most thrilling athletic events I have ever witnessed. His determination, mental and physical stamina, and superb ability are ample qualifications, I believe, for SI's annual award of Sportsman of the Year.
I nominate Al Kaline as SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S Sportsman of the Year. Anyone who has such a tremendous season and Series deserves a lot more than a standing ovation.
No one is more deserving of the Sportsman of the Year award than Floyd Patterson, who continues to be a living symbol of the humility and persistence of a true sportsman, while enduring the humiliation of a dying sport.
Kansas City, Mo.
My nominee for 1968's Sportsman of the Year is Al Oerter.
His achievement of winning a fourth consecutive gold medal in the Olympic Games discus throw is monumental and should not be disregarded.
I would like to nominate a very animated Scotsman named Jackie Stewart. This man has had some of the worst luck this year of any sportsman. The death of one of his dear friends, Jim Clark, started it. Then he fractured his wrist practicing for a rather unimportant race, which kept him out of Indy. In the Belgian Grand Prix, with the cast still on, he had the race almost won when he ran out of gas. In the Dutch Grand Prix he won the race decisively, his right wrist so painful that he couldn't use it to shake the hand of a presiding official. Then, when he was almost out of the race for world champion, he won the doubly dangerous German Grand Prix at N√ºrburgring in the wet, and the recent U.S. Grand Prix. With only one more race to go, he is only three points behind leader Graham Hill.