President Nixon's comments on physical fitness and the spiritual benefits of "exercising" vicariously while seated in front of the TV set (SCORECARD, March 1) make one wonder if he is as familiar with what might be called the State of the American Body as he seems to be with the State of the World, the Union, etc.
As a physician, I have ample opportunity to sample the state of the American body and can report it, politely, as tending to corpulency, and, putting it frankly, often fat. Obesity is a recognized factor in increasing the risk of coronary artery disease. Measures recommended to reduce this risk include a regular program of physical exercise. Thus, "exercise for exercise's sake," which President Nixon disdains, is really exercise for health's sake.
Walking remains an excellent form of exercise as well as a way of getting to school or the local market. Bicycling provides a greater range of mobility. Snowshoeing and ski touring transform winter into the wonderland that Bing Crosby sings about. And the substitution of muscle power for gasoline power might be termed exercise for antipollution's sake.
And lest someone wishes to rest on the records and spirit of America's track champions, a recent study noted that some seven out of every 10 recruits (18 to 20 years old) for the Austrian Army could run 1.5 miles or more in 12 minutes while only about four of every 10 recruits (of the same age) for the U.S. Air Force could do so.
ROY D. CLARK JR.
Captain, USAF, MC
Mountain Home AFB, Idaho
March 15, 1971
Robert H. Boyle's article on Dr. Delano Meriwether (Champion of the Armchair Athletes, Feb. 22) was an honest description of an athlete who enjoys competing merely for the fun of it. In a time of overspecialization, highly complex individual training programs and $100,000 contracts, it is refreshing to see an athlete rise to world-class status strictly on his own. Dr. Meriwether's splendid mixture of success with fun underlines the purpose of sport itself.
LEE DAVID FAUTSCH
Jerry Kirshenbaum's recent article on our sports-oriented Florida retirement community (Working at a Life of Leisure, Feb. 1) was just tremendous. He caught the very spirit of Port Charlotte. In the four years my husband and I have spent here as escapees from the frozen North, we have shed all regimentation, and we are 10 years younger! We never dreamed we could be so happy.
Port Charlotte, Fla.
I enjoyed Jerry Kirschenbaum's article very much. But it does serve to impress forcibly upon me the difference between the life of the retirees in Port Charlotte and the life of retirees in Sun Valley, of which I am one.
Our retirees ski vigorously and hunt and fish the mountain areas. We think that our energetic life gives us a greater claim to the Fountain of Youth than the Florida variety.
J. C. HAMMOND
Sun Valley, Idaho
MAKING HAY IN KANSAS
In Far Out in Middle America (March 1), Curry Kirkpatrick mentions that the Kansas Jayhawks have compiled an "unimpressive" undefeated record in the Big Eight. We think that's pretty darn good for a team grown out of "big, slow, ploddy people...rescued from hay wagons and coaxed out of silos." As for the contention that there are three Missouri Valley teams that could beat us, well, please excuse us, we've got to go finish the plowing so's we can catch the stage headed for Houston.
Curry Kirkpatrick stated that being undefeated in the Big Eight Conference is no honor. SI said the same thing about Big Eight football, and Nebraska ended up with the No. 1 team.
Three rousing cheers for Coach Ray Bussard of the recharged University of Tennessee swimming team (Fastest Man Afloat, March 1). It's small wonder, indeed, that Dave Edgar and his teammates have made a big splash. By his unique promotive innovations, Bussard has done away with the heretofore hum-drum activity of swimming meets. With the introduction of the Timettes with those two strikingly pulchritudinous bikini-clad gals shown holding Old Glory and canoeing down the pool, with the coed managers who tend with loving care the whims of the swimmers, and with music to swim by—well, who wouldn't be inspired to ultimate victory at UT?
WILLIAM F. O'BRIEN
Allow me to commend you on William F. Reed's article. You have exposed Coach Bussard as one who typifies the contemporary collegiate attitude toward—and misconception of—sport. He not only has a Tennessee swimmer "pour a bottle of water from his home pool into enemy waters," he also "personally inspects the swimmers' dormitory rooms," though most of the police work is left to the Orange Knights. Coach Bussard does not permit dissent from his tactics and rules ("There's no room on our team for the radical or the leftist"). Is the athlete's freedom and opinion suppressed?
Mr. Bussard could also be accused of chauvinism. Being patriotic is one thing, but using coeds to carry the American flag because "it kind of makes the visiting teams lose some of their concentration," is deplorable. I think what has happened is that Bussard has lost his concentration on the pleasure of sport—the engagement of one's self in physical activity as a source of recreation, not war!
Ironically, Dave Edgar, the "fastest man afloat," doesn't care much about Coach Bussard's rules and regulations. Keep winning and enjoying sport, Dave.
GREGORY J. TARONE
Your article was great. A few more about Big Orange Country, which has one of the top all-round sports programs in the nation, and you just might make up for your total neglect of the fabulous 1970 Tennessee football team. (I'll bet if Notre Dame had played in the Sugar Bowl it would have gotten more than two lines of coverage.)
A LOOK AT THE PAST
The Boxer and the Slugger (March 1) is one of the most fascinating contributions to boxing I have ever seen. The descriptive writing of Martin Kane and the lifelike drawings of Robert Handville graphically depict some of history's most interesting fights. But the one that most interests me is the sketch of the Willard-Johnson fight, which has been controversial for years. Now that the film of the fight has been analyzed, permitting the artist to recapture the standout scenes, it is like hitting pay dirt.
Few people, even the experts, ever described Willard thoroughly enough, and I am making no attempt to do it here. But I remember that he stopped off in Oklahoma City after having completed a job as a laborer on a new railroad in the state, before he took up boxing at the age of 28. His hard work in Oklahoma's hot, dry weather may have helped prepare him for his later meeting with Johnson in that 110° heat in Havana.
A month or so after he met Johnson, Willard again came through Oklahoma City. A crowd quickly gathered around him, and it was my luck to be there and hear every word of his description of the fight. He said, "It was tough all the way. For two weeks after the fight I wore a flaxseed poultice around my chest and midsection. Johnson's gloves seared me like a rope burns a horse. But I continued to feel strong all through the fight, and I was determined."
EARL B. COYLE
I would like to thank Robert Handville and Martin Kane. The pictures were fantastic, and the author's way of telling the story made me feel as if I were sitting in an arena watching each and every one of those fights. I really enjoyed it.
Tex Maule's Feb. 15 article Tomorrow's Generals concluded with a rhetorical question concerning the whereabouts of several first draft choices who flopped. I do not know anything about Richie Lucas, Bob Garrett or Don Allard, but what kind of a flop goes on to quarterback one of the great Canadian Football League dynasties, overshadows such superlative quarterbacks as Winnipeg's Kenny Ploen, Ottawa's Russ Jackson and Vancouver's Joe Kapp, and becomes a CFL living legend on a par with Jackie Parker?
Bernie Faloney of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats did these things, and he accomplished them during a time when the CFL could reasonably be rated above the American Football League and, except near the end of Faloney's career, almost on a par with the celebrated National Football League that branded him a flop.
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