Please permit me to compliment SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and John Underwood on the story of Adidas and Puma (No Goody Two-Shoes, March 10). It was superbly researched, well-documented and beautifully presented.
If I may, I would like to make one point quite clear: my resignation from Adidas had nothing whatsoever to do with my attitude toward the firm. I hold Adidas and the Adi Dassler family in the highest esteem, and our relationship remains unchanged. It was regrettable that they were drawn into a deplorable situation not of their own making. For my part, however, the personal service given to the athletes (many had special shoes made to necessary requirements, while others simply wanted something different) and the continuing efforts to improve the shoes technically—areas in which I devoted a great deal of time—no longer mattered to the majority. Money was the only thing that did matter, and, if this wasn't bad enough, the bargaining and the playing of one firm against the other made a highly distasteful situation repugnant to me.
The sole blame must be laid squarely on the IAAF, which could have put a stop to this in Budapest two years before Mexico City. It was at the IAAF Congress there, following the European championships, that East German officials laid $600 on the table in front of the Marquess of Exeter, president of the IAAF. This was the money paid to J√ºrgen Haase ($500) and J√ºrgen May ($100) by Puma. The body chose to sweep the affair under the carpet, donated the money to the International Red Cross and hoped that by ignoring it the matter would dissipate. The IAAF rejected a meeting requested by Adidas in Mexico before the Games, and since then Adrian Paulen, president of the European Committee of the IAAF, has refused to see Horst Dassler, who traveled especially to Amsterdam to meet with him.
The IAAF is abdicating its responsibility, and it must agree to meet with the shoe manufacturers to resolve the question. An all-white neutral shoe will only create problems for those who least deserve them: the athletes.
Beverly Hills, Calif.
March 24, 1969
As U.S. distributor for Japanese Tiger track shoes, we consider ourselves the third and newest force in the U.S. track-shoe market. Our own experience went like this: we enjoyed our most prestigious moments just prior to the Mexico Olympics. Over 50% of the distance men were training in our shoes at South Lake Tahoe, and many top athletes were wearing our spike shoes in meets. But by Mexico City the number had dropped sharply.
We were not surprised, as everyone close to track and field was aware of the situation as you described it, and we were certainly not in a position to compete with $100,000 in payoffs. Unfortunately, the AAU and IAAF have chosen to "look the other way." In our eyes this amounts to tacit approval, and the controversy rages around our company whether to swallow our ethics and compete (albeit on a scale smaller than $100,000), or to continue to let the competition claim "85% of the medals."
If your story on the scandal forces U.S. officials to rethink their nonpolicy on track and field payoffs, you will have done a great service not only to smaller track-shoe distributors, such as we are, who have difficulty competing with payoffs of $100,000, but also to the much-loved sport of track and field, which has grown tainted from the dirty business of payoffs, and to the high school trackmen across the country who must ultimately pay the $100,000 in higher shoe prices.
PHILIP H. KNIGHT
Blue Ribbon Sports
My background in track is that of a so-so high school sprinter who earned a varsity letter and a deep-rooted love for this sport. At present I am a Marist Brother teaching and coaching freshman track at St. Mary's High School in Manhasset, N.Y. and trying to develop runners with a true dedication to this sport. Your article has damaged the great dignity which I felt has surrounded track and field competition.
To me, track is the one sport that can develop an awkward, seemingly unathletic boy into a person with a fine sense of accomplishment, with confidence in himself and his athletic skill. It has always been a sport where the reward was not what you could get out of it, but what dimension it could add to your life, in helping the whole man to emerge.
But your article has shown that people whom I have held up as examples to emulate are involved in a very messy, disgusting practice. It has shown that track is getting to be a business, where athletic competition and talent are bartered away for a price, and a grand spectacle like the Olympics has become merely a backdrop for vendors hawking their wares and then expressing horror at the Frankenstein's monster they have created.
BROTHER JOSEPH F. OLIVET F.M.S.
I believe your article on the Olympic Games payoffs will force the International Amateur Athletic Federation to take corrective action in redefining amateurism. IAAF Rule 53 (vii) states that "any person who... receives, directly or indirectly, any compensation for using or recommending the use of any merchandise... is ineligible to take part in amateur competitions." If this rule is enforced, only four of the gold medal winners in track and field competition will be eligible for the 1969 track program.
Since Bill Toomey is one of the athletes who did nor receive payoffs, his statement concerning "shamateurism" carries special significance.
Congratulations to John Underwood and Anita Verschoth for a journalistic masterpiece.
Chairman, Men's Track and Field Committee, Southern Pacific Assoc. of the AAU San Pedro, Calif.
Leave it to a pair of feuding "shoemakers" to further foul up the ideals of amateurism. This corner has nothing but contempt for the unholy competition that created the shoe scandal so ably covered in your article. This stupid vendetta mocks amateur athletics and presents officials with a dilemma too hot to handle: an example of the far-reaching effects of hatred.
Quaker City Gear Works
Huntingdon Valley, Pa.
•For those readers who may not be old enough to remember, Barney Berlinger was the Sullivan Award winner in 1931 and the national AAU decathlon champion of 1933.—ED.
Too bad about John Underwood's feature story No Goody Two-Shoes. It furthers the general impression abroad in the land that everything and everybody is for sale. Amid the facts, not to mention the many fancies which the piece contains, there is left the distinct impression that all athletes wear only the shoes of the highest bidder with no regard whatsoever for any other deciding factors such as quality or performance. Though this may be true in the limited area in which the two manufacturers mentioned operated, it is far, far from a general truth. Most pros wear what they want regardless of what they may honestly endorse as "O.K.," and high school and college athletes, and other great athletes across the country and around the world, pretty much follow suit. I think it would be fair to say that few of them have kicked off their favorite soles, or sold their souls either. Despite all the machinations in Mexico City disclosed by SI, there were plenty of Goody Two-Shoes there—many more Goody than No Goody.
HENRY A. REEVES
Director, Advertising and Sales Promotion Converse Rubber Company
Congratulations to the artist who designed the cover for the March 10 issue. He is a genius. That one photograph summed up the whole article.
MADELINE T. GRACE
I'm curious to know where you obtained the old half-dollars used on the March 10 cover. I'm sure you know they are quite valuable, as they are all silver.
•The coins are silver dollars, not half-dollars, and there are 753 (or 40 pounds) of them, each one valued at $2.50. They were rented by Photographer Phillip Leonian for the SI cover photograph from the Coen-Messer Co., a New York coin dealer.—ED.
RENEWING THE OLD
My congratulations for William Leggett's article and Michael Ramus' illustrations (Golden Days that Sustain the Dream, March 10). Again SI has come up with an authentic description of the good old game of baseball. With all of the bad publicity baseball has been getting recently, it is great to know how spring training is progressing—that's real baseball.
South Kent, Conn.
Way to go, SI. You've really done good this time. I've lived in Clearwater, Fla. for a good while and have always looked forward to Phillies exhibition games. Not two hours before I saw your March 10 issue I had been to a Phillies-Reds exhibition game. I saw Lee May put one over the left-field sign your artist drew. Right there in front of my eyes was the same scene, pictured on paper, that I had just seen "live." And on the next pages your artist pictured our own Jack Russell Stadium to a "T." The batting cage is the same, and you even have two little boys sitting out on the wall where they watch the games for free. I am proud that you picked good old Clearwater to represent spring training.
STOOP TO CONQUER?
Regarding your article on Vince Lombardi (Arararararargh! March 3), I regret to see aggrandized a man who has broken a contract, who has assumed, to the displeasure of an organization, that his friends would release him from his contract in spite of having allowed him to do almost consistently what he wanted to do. I liked Mr. Lombardi. Without question he is an unusual and a great man. I do not like a man breaking his word and taking advantage of friends.
F. M. YOUNG
Veni, vidi, Vince Lombardi.
MORE THAN PROMISES
May I suggest that the title of Bob Ottum's excellent article on the skiing at Squaw Valley and the figure skating at Colorado Springs (Promises, Promises—and More, March 10) might be appropriate if the word "promises" were given secondary rather than primary emphasis. The men's figure-skating championship at Colorado Springs was won for the first time in 10 years by an American. Tim Wood, after a near-perfect performance in the delicate tracing of the compulsory figures, put on a dazzlingly dramatic free-skating program, so boldly executed that three of the judges awarded him perfect marks, "a performance," to quote Ottum, "that rendered adherents of that sport speechless." His entire performance was almost flawless and puts Wood on a par with—if not ahead of—the best of his predecessors. So, as a title more befitting the performances of Billy Kidd and the others at Squaw Valley and of champion Tim Wood et al. at Colorado Springs, I beg to suggest Achievement—and Promises, Promises.
New York City
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