BLOOD AND THUNDER
Ah, here it was Friday, the day SI arrives. Home from work, I burst through the door, grabbed the March 5 issue, unfolded it and...what greeted my astounded eyes? The Police Gazette? True Detective? Grisly Tales? No, it was SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
"SPORT HITS BROADWAY" shouted your cover subhead, although it looked as if sport had collided with that one guy and missed Broadway entirely.
Really, fellows, your covers are attention-grabbers without using ersatz blood. Please spare us the gore: I, for one, would rather view Kareem Abdul-Jabbar"s grimace as he hooks one in or Red Holzman shrieking imprecations at a ref.
CRAIG W. ANDERSON
San Jose, Calif.
This is the first letter I have ever written to express contempt and disgust for a picture or an article that has appeared in what I generally consider a fine, responsible magazine. To select a cover photograph such as the one "illustrating" your article An Ethic of Work and Play marks a rather sick mentality. We all know that sport has its bloody, even savage, side, and I am not suggesting that we be Pollyannas and never focus the camera or our attention on anything but fluid motion and dynamic action. The pictures in last year's Feb. 7 issue covering the now-overexposed Ohio State-Minnesota basketball brawl were an integral part of a story that needed to be brought to public attention in condemnation of such out-of-hand action. But the gore you have chosen to splash across your "Bloody Game" issue on rugby seems inexcusable to me, particularly at a time when the violence of war, terrorist tactics and killers is constantly brought to our attention by the media.
HARRY L. ROSSER
Chapel Hill, N.C.
I thought the March 5 cover was one of the poorest you have ever presented. It was not a portrayal of true sport but, instead, an eyecatching display of pure sensationalism.
Being a sports fan and a subscriber, I have received a great deal of enjoyment from your excellent articles and photography, and I do not think you need to resort to a cover that bears a full-color photograph of a blood-smeared athlete, who, in this case, was only acting. The article better represented the theater than it did the sport of rugby.
JAMES A. OWEN
Your cover picture was thoroughly disgusting. Sports should be fun, not like a war. Why glamorize something so sickening as a sports injury?
Grosse Pointe, Mich.
It was a complete disgrace and a gory mess. Janet Lynn certainly should have been the one selected for the cover that week.
When I saw the cover of your March 5 issue I was elated. I thought finally rugby had received some coverage in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. But I was destined to be disappointed when, in the second paragraph of the story, I saw the dread words "Rugby-League." I continued reading nonetheless and enjoyed the look Martha Duffy gave us at David Storey, a fine playwright.
Then I read the script. Those of us who play rugby before huge crowds of 150 here in the Midwest would give our eyeteeth to have heaters in the locker room—or even to have a locker room at all. Changing to kit in the back seat of a Ford is not the most comfortable way to spend a brisk autumn afternoon.
But a part of the script strikes home. Injuries are accepted as a part of the game. Since no substitution is allowed in Rugby Union, I have seen a player beg to go back on pitch until he was shown his own anklebone sticking out of his sock. No, I would not describe Rugby Union as "gentler" than Rugby League. Cleaner, perhaps, but equally rough.
Still, I thank you for giving mention in your pages to rugby. Perhaps it will result in an increased interest in our game. If not, we'll continue to play for ourselves and our present followers. But I don't think the general public knows what it is missing.
Milwaukee Rugby Football Club
It was a pleasure to read Martha Duffy's informative article on one of the most interesting sports in existence today. Rugby has long deserved such attention from SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and you should be congratulated for presenting this excellent article on not only the play, The Changing Room, and its author but the game itself.
It would be nice, though, if you could go into the game as it is played in the U.S. on the college level. There is an annual national collegiate rugby tournament and the game is increasing in popularity every year.
AGONY AND ECSTASY
Many thanks for the personal view of Janet Lynn (This Is It, For Heaven's Sake, March 5). William Johnson's poetic style is certainly appropriate for the-presentation of both Miss Lynn and figure skating. Perhaps the reader will now more fully realize the amazingly intense devotion, discipline and anxiety that are characteristic of a skating champion, for when one watches Janet skate it is easy to forget the hard work and agony that have led up to the performance. Instead, the viewer catches her charisma in her execution of "poetry in motion."
Although Janet lost to Karen Magnussen in the world championship, we trust that she will continue "to do her evangelizing on ice."
Thank you for the excellent, albeit long overdue, article on one of the most charming women in the world of sport, Janet Lynn. This young lady has captured the hearts of millions of sports fans. I hope that those who prefer bone-grinding impact and muscle will appreciate the fact that skill and grace are also signs of a champion.
Loud applause and accolades to you; roses and happiness to her.
Studio City, Calif.
I wish to congratulate William Johnson on an intuitive and astute article on a world-class figure skater. How refreshing to get an understanding viewpoint on the hard work and depression a skater goes through without the political braggadocio that is usually thrown at the public. The article was about Janet Lynn, your fine champion, but it could just as easily have been about our champion, Karen Magnussen. Aside from other shared characteristics, both girls display immense character drive and talent in unmeasurable amounts. The one thing they do not share is style, as each is utterly distinctive. One may prefer Janet's pixie, Fantasia-like brilliance or Karen's flying-through-the-air grace. Either way North America is fortunate to have two such fine skaters, or should I say fine young women, representing our great continent. We are ecstatic that Karen reached her golden goal this year, but we sincerely hope that Janet will stay on to reach the top next year.
Your article on Janet Lynn was most enjoyable and welcome recognition for an athlete who has spent so much time and effort in becoming a star. In no other sport are so many years of endless toil and dedication required to reach the top. Her faith in God is truly beautiful and inspirational. Finishing second in this year's world championship takes nothing away from her wonderful achievements. Whether she continues as an amateur or turns pro Janet Lynn has already given me a great deal of enjoyment, and for this I will be forever grateful.
WAYNE VER NOOY
Ann Arbor, Mich.
Your article on Lee Trevino (Lee Returns To Ax a Forrest, March 5) only goes to show that if you believe in something, sooner or later you will achieve it. Now that he has won the Jackie Gleason tournament I believe Lee will have another great year.
An excellent article by Barry McDermott. Lee Trevino is our favorite golfer and always has been. We knew it would take more than a few bad tournaments to keep him down. His return to the top should serve as inspiration to one and all.
MR. AND MRS. ANDREW J. BARCELONA
Thank you for the great coverage of the Lee Trevino comeback. Although I know Lee's fans were not surprised at his victory, I am also sure we will see more of Forrest Fezler in the future.
In your article on the Jackie Gleason Inverrary National Airlines Classic, most of your comment on Forrest Fezler was directed at his final-round collapse. You failed to mention the most dramatic shot of the tournament, Fezler's pressure-filled second shot on the final hole to within five feet of the cup. Although he missed the putt, which would have given him a tie with Lee Trevino, he showed a lot of fortitude with that clutch second shot.
C. M. McILVOY
Score another one for Peter Carry. I think his article on the Los Angeles Lakers (It Hurts When They Aren't the Best, March 5) tells the hidden truth about their problems this season. In addition to West's hamstring injury and Hairston's surgery, Goodrich has been out twice, McMillian and Erickson once each, not to mention several other players who have been injured or stricken by the recent flu epidemic or both.
Another fact, brought up by Chick Hearn on radio during the Feb. 25 Laker-Buck game, is that last season L.A.'s top seven players combined for only nine missed games. This season the top seven have combined for 68 missed games so far. I think this tells most of the story of their four-game losing streak, the longest one they have had since Bill Sharman came to the club. In fact, no other team except Milwaukee has come close to having as many injuries this season as the Lakers; Boston has spent the season practically injury-free. Still, Los Angeles has the second-best record in the league. I think this is the mark of a great ball club.
Culver City, Calif.
Your article on the Superstars decathlon (You Got To Have a Gimmick, March 5) was well written and interesting but the event itself leaves something to be desired. I think it is a good idea to have superstars of different sports compete against each other, although it is a little stupid to have athletes of different ages, such as Bob Seagren and John Unitas, vying against each other in events where age can be a factor. I suggest that next time they pick young athletes who are just coming into their own, or athletes who are already in their prime or older athletes who are about ready to leave the sport, one of the three. That way we could really find out which sport supposedly takes the most strength, endurance and ability.
I think the article by Dan Levin on the so-called Superstars was fantastic. It made clear which pro sports keep an athlete in shape. It also showed who the "old pros" are.
Your article proves what I have suspected all along: most athletic superstars are one-sport freaks.
Pound Ridge, N.Y.
Dan Levin did a stupendous job of covering the event, but I am plagued by mixed emotions about the whole affair. Is it all necessary?
San Mateo, Calif.
I do not care how or why the contest was arranged but I do think it was refreshingly different to watch. No new records were established, no perfect execution was shown, but the unexpected more than made up for this. Where else but in the Superstars decathlon could one see Johnny Bench disqualified in a swimming event for "walking" or a double-bogey 6 on the final hole win a golf event for Jim Stefanich? Today's sports are so perfected that the outcome of most contests is predictable before they even begin.
The future possibilities for the Superstars are endless. I agree that some events should be changed, but the basic idea is sound. Imagine Wilt Chamberlain vs. Elmo Wright in a hotly contested set of tennis!
CHARLES C. FLYNN
Jackie Stewart must be congratulated on his fine work (Going Racing Along a Dream Road, March 5). The world's best driver has come up with a design that, if constructed (and I really hope it is), would be the world's best racing circuit. He has included every possible kind of feature that a road course should have.
West Paterson, N.J.
You did a fine job of detailing the course. Besides being a racing circuit, the "dream course" sounds like a park or golf course, with fresh air, rolling hills and snack facilities. If it is ever built it should be quite a layout. I hope Jackie Stewart's dream comes true.
While I generally agree with the philosophy of commercialism for wildlife (Eyeball to Eyeball with Africa, Feb. 26), it must be emphatically stated that in practice it is a rarity for drive-through animal parks to spend even 1% of their gross income on conservation, education and research. Most of these new "zoos" lack professionalism and are fast becoming amusement parks only. What we really need is the best of both worlds, the goals and objectives of the traditional, nonprofit zoo combined with the business sense and imagination so successful in the commercial safari park. In other words, commercialism is good for wildlife and humanity depending upon what is done with the product and its profits. It remains to be seen whether or not this movement will prove socially responsible; I hope it does.
RANDALL L. EATON, PH.D.
World Wildlife Safari
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