I have just finished reading the article concerning the situation at the U. of Wyoming (No Defeats, Loads of Trouble, Nov. 3). Speaking from my experience as a former collegiate football player and a present high school coach, I feel anyone connected with athletics should realize the importance and significance of the absolute discipline needed to insure team unity and success. Your article points out that the players who were dismissed from the squad were completely aware of the provisions under which they agreed to play for Coach Eaton. "We knew about the rule against protest...but we just wanted to talk to him." You then quote Williams as saying that the group of 14 just wanted to see if they could wear armbands. However, earlier in the article you quote Eaton as saying that they had appeared before him already wearing armbands. Hence, they openly and willfully disobeyed the rule and, in effect, decided to chance the consequences.
As I see it, this is not a matter of religion, race or civil rights, but simply one of insubordination. Coach Eaton had no choice but to handle it as he did.
Fort Thomas, Ky.
With all the legitimate protests the blacks have had over the years, it is strange they should pick Brigham Young University and the Mormon Church. The policies of this church are nobody's business but those within the church, unless they affect those outside it, which no one has shown they have. The Mormon Church is not a Woolworth's or a Greyhound bus or even a Lester Maddox-owned restaurant. It is a private religion catering to what its members believe are ancient beliefs, and it forces those beliefs only upon those who choose to accept them.
Salt Lake City
Eaton denied those men the right of petition and thus he opened up a much larger bucket of worms, by comparison, than any other act re athletes that I know of. He showed plain ignorance in saying it was stupid for them to be protesting against a faith and a religion that none of them knew about. It has been my experience that the fact that the Mormons refuse to ordain a Negro is perhaps the best known single fact, among Negroes, of any element of discrimination. And they knew it long before any college rumpuses started.
FRED R. LANCASTER
November 17, 1969
The trouble at Wyoming brings to mind your recent series on the problems of coaches (The Desperate Coach, Aug. 25 et seq.). As with that series I find it difficult to shed crocodile tears for Coach Eaton. I am rather sick of athletes being treated like cattle. It is blatantly obvious to anyone not antiblack that Eaton has violated the players' human rights. Even if one accepts Eaton's version, it comes out as zero tolerance of his players as human beings.
All the garbage about how grateful they should be for their free college education does not change a basic fact: football uniforms do not make men cattle.
Although I am one of Lew Alcindor's biggest fans, I feel compelled to defend Los Angeles and UCLA against the attacks he leveled against them in the second part of the article on his life (My Story, Oct. 21 et seq.). His main complaint about UCLA seemed to be against the people living in the dorms. Most dormies are not from L.A. It is usually their first time living away from home. Lew's freshman year wasn't his first experience away from home, so consequently he did not do the silly things the others did, for most likely he had already done them at a younger age.
I think he confused awe with racism on the campus and in the community. Like most students at UCLA I come from a white middle-class suburb. (There was only one black at my high school.) Most of us never knew, let alone were friends with, a black. Although I hate to admit it, during my first year at UCLA (Lew's second) I was probably somewhat prejudiced. Consequently I avoided contact with blacks, not from hate, but from lack of knowledge.
Add to this the fact that Lew was more than 7 feet tall and likely the most recognizable athlete in the world. That first year, whenever I saw him, I avoided him, not because he was a black man, but out of shyness because he was a celebrity. Had I run into Sandy Koufax I would likely have done the same thing, and I am certainly not prejudiced against him.
After that first year, whenever I did see Lew, I would say hello and he would always say, "Hi," and ask how I was, even though he didn't know me. I'm sorry that I (and most others) never continued the conversation past "Hi," for if we had I am sure Lew would have a different opinion.
Racism certainly exists in Los Angeles and at UCLA, as it does everywhere else. It's time that everyone carried conversations past "Hi."
Lew Alcindor is a fine basketball player. He will be a great one. I support him in his striving for athletic excellence.
As a man he has much to learn. He agonizes over being called a name—yet he uses words like "cracker." If he is against prejudice, let him be against it going both ways.
Blacks seem to feel that color makes you a brother. Alcindor has to have "brothers" around him to be comfortable. That's prejudice—prejudice against whites and others without knowing whether they have brotherly qualities or not.
He's a runner. He runs away from whites, New York, Christ, UCLA—you name it. As Alcindor grows as a basketball player, maybe he will grow as a man. If he is a man, who cares what color he is?
J. WILLIAM THOMPSON
Thank you, Lew Alcindor; thank you SPORTS ILLUSTRATED! Another score for both of you. My Story was one of the greatest articles I have read. Lew tells it like it is for the middle-class black man in the predominantly white school. It seems as if people fail to realize that if you are black you still face the same problems of prejudice as all other blacks no matter where you go to school or where you live.
For myself, a black athlete from Shaker Heights, Ohio, and for all the other black Shaker Heights graduates throughout the years, thanks, Big Lew, for telling the world the truth!
Re Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr.: Yeah, man. Tell it for all of us, brother.
ROBERT NELSON MOORE JR.
His forebears migrated on their own decision to the U.S. from Trinidad. They were never ill-treated by American slave owners. His father and mother are seen as good and honorable citizens. This young man was taught by white teachers, learned basketball from white coaches, played in leagues formed by white sponsors and has been awarded scholarships by white institutions. Yet he could doodle in the dirt DEATH TO THE WHITE MAN and express aloud his hatred for every drop of white blood in himself.
Whether we like it or not, Lew Alcindor tells it like it is, and he has every right to be bitter. But he hurts only himself by letting his bitterness be his master.
In the last 12 years I have read many amusing articles in your magazine, but the cover and lead article of your Nov. 3 issue take the cake. Please inform Tex Maule that I am truly sorry the Dallas Cowboys do not get a shot at "Merciless Minnesota" this year. We have a few boys down here named Lilly, Andrie, Pugh and Cole, backed up by three little boys named Edwards, Howley and Jordan, who would love to show Mr. Maule they are truly "pro football's toughest defense."
San Angelo, Texas
Our thanks for an excellent article on our favorite football team in the far northern reaches of NFL domain (forget Green Bay). Definitely we see the Super Bowl in 1971.
DAVID L. PLACE
THE RAIN IN SPAHN
Tell Mr. Joseph and Mr. Morse (19TH HOLE, Nov. 3) that they're both all wet. The saying really went: "The reign in Sain Spahns mainly toward our bane." Or was it, "Warren and John will darken our dawn?"
NICHOLAS P. ANDES
I never heard the saying before I read it in SI, but I've discovered that all three versions printed so far are wrong. The saying really went:
Spahn and Sain both prayed for rain/ But little gain, 'twas all in vain/ One used his brain—they hopped a train/ But when the twain got back again/ The skies were gray'n and, with some pain/ The ump was say'n, 'Here come de rain!'
They just don't make catchy phrases like that any more.
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