IN THE FACE OF PREJUDICE
Thank you for William Leggett's outstanding article (A Tortured Road to 715, May 28) on an outstanding athlete, Henry Aaron. As a longtime fan of his, I am sad to hear of the trouble Henry is having. To dislike a man is human; to hate him and wish him evil is not.
To me, Aaron is tops in every aspect of life, and when he retires he will be recognized as the most durable and consistent all-round player the sport has ever known. A look at the records will verify that. I wish him luck in everything he does.
When will people ever learn that dignity, character, courage and integrity know no color line? Henry Aaron is a brilliant athlete and certainly one of the finest men ever to play baseball. He is a credit to the sport, to himself and to all of us.
Fair Haven, N.J.
ANOTHER KIND OF BIGOTRY
Congratulations! It is about time somebody told the real story of women athletes (Sport Is Unfair to Women, May 28). If people would watch girls' athletics with an open mind they would be truly surprised at the quality and excitement involved in our sports. Bil Gilbert and Nancy Williamson did a fantastic job on the first article of this series. They should receive a special award for printing "the truth and nothing but the truth." Keep up the good work and maybe women athletes will get an even shake in the world of sports.
June 10, 1973
Many thanks for your initial article on the plight of the female athlete. I anticipate the two subsequent articles with a grim sort of pleasure. While at college (I was graduated this spring), I had the honor of playing on lacrosse teams with two All-Americas, both women. One is a double All-America—in field hockey and lacrosse—and the only person at the university to have this double distinction. She did get a write-up in the alumni magazine, but otherwise the university ignores her. She receives none of the benefits that her male counterparts enjoy as a matter of course.
Thank goodness you set me straight on women's athletics. Before I read the article I had no idea how much women were being discriminated against in sports. As I began reading I thought the author was just another Women's Lib complainer trying to prove something. By the time I was finished I realized that something must be done to awaken more of the American people to these facts. I sincerely hope you will continue to publish articles that bring to the surface such unfair prejudices.
I am ashamed. As soon as I finished reading Part I of the series I decided that I would immediately do the following things:
First, instead of discouraging my daughter of nine years, I would encourage her uninhibited desire to participate in sports; second, I would help her in any way possible to improve her athletic skills; and third, I would stop ridiculing her ability as that fiercely competitive yet unsynchronized soul desperately tries to achieve her rightful degree of athletic success.
As I think back, I do not recall ever discouraging my daughter's older brother from taking an active part in athletics. Thank you for the eye-opener.
PAUL B. GREIN
Bay City, Mich.
Despite the absurdity of most of the prejudices against women athletes, I find it difficult to be very concerned about the "raw deal" women get in sports. They are no worse off than 99% of the men who also get no scholarships, cannot use the gym when "the team" is practicing, and whose lack of physical strength, speed of reflexes, etc., is also a mere accident of birth.
The thing that struck me most was the reference to girls who accommodate "their athletic desires to the attitudes of society" by playing "nervously and timidly." I realized that this very syndrome may be the underlying cause of the stereotypes (which I find well founded) of "running like a girl" or "throwing like a girl." I don't see this so-called dainty, timid style of non-competitive competition as cute or feminine, but as clumsy and incompetent. The failure to instill in girls the same high ideals of athletic achievement as we drill into boys should be condemned by all those who love sport for the sake of sport.
In that same May 28 issue you lived up to the painful truths presented in the story of the raw deal women are getting in sports. To wit:
1) No other articles on women; 2) no women in FACES IN THE CROWD; 3) a picture of only one woman—not even an American—offered in your poster sale; and 4) unidentified photographs of the women athletes included in the article—not to mention the girl on the cover.
Schools, universities and television stations consider women athletes as "unsalable" and uninteresting to watch. Must you, too, only underscore their attitudes?
New York City
•SI's May 28 cover girl was Chris Vennum, a 14-year-old Ontario (Calif.) High School athlete whose specialty is the 440-yard dash.—ED.
After reading the first installment in what promises to be a very fine series on the inequitable treatment of women in sports, I leafed on through the rest of the magazine and was distressed to find an overendowed and underdressed cartoon character named Bubbles LaFarge romping about in an Indy comic strip (The Racer Boys and Bubbles Go to Indy). You pictured Bubbles with a firecracker atop her head and delivering such pithy dialogue as, "I'll finish the race! My, isn't this a cunning little crash helmet!...Look for me. My car will have pink airfoils and false eyelashes." It seems to me more than a little ironic that you should include both articles in the same issue, especially at a time when you are taking a stand against the chauvinistic press which the female athlete has received (when she has received any at all).
Ann Arbor, Mich.
HOPE IN CALIFORNIA
As a coach of both an AAU girls' track team and a high school girls' team, I would like to thank you for the attention you have called to the plight of girls" and women's athletics in this country. Girls' athletics in general and girls' track in particular have long suffered from the apathy of school administrators, the subtle bigotry of boys' coaches and the disregard of meet managers and the public press concerning budgets, facilities and curricular opportunities, as well as from a dearth of well-trained women physical educators. Fortunately, these shortcomings are slowly being reversed, as more girls are overcoming their feminine "demureness" and demanding to be given the opportunity to participate in whatever advantages and educational value athletics have been offering to males for years. Along with this comes the entry into the field of people who have been trained and coached as athletes to offer their experience to girl athletes.
Several states have recently instituted rather well-organized programs for girls' competition and have state high school championship meets. California has just ruled that girls must be allowed (based simply on ability) to participate on varsity teams with boys. There are also two bills in the California senate that would require equal funding of the men's and women's athletic programs in schools throughout the state. For the first time, too, the California Interscholastic Federation, Southern Section, held a girls' track and field championship, with the finals contested at the same time as the boys'.
As you pointed out in your article, the top-seeded athletes in these championships are almost all products of AAU age-group competition, with very few exceptions. With the growth of interscholastic competition, hopefully women's track and field will be able to claim the same kind of vigorous, multilevel competition that the men's sport now enjoys.
High School Editor
Women's Track & Field World
It had been a pleasure to read Herman Weiskopf's April 9 article on bowling's Firestone Tournament of Champions, so you can imagine my delight at discovering his story (He Socks the Sizzle to 'Em, May 14) on the Professional Women Bowlers Association and its ebullient commissioner, Bucky Woy. Two rather expansive bowling stories within a six-week span must be some sort of first for SI. I am sure I join millions of regular bowlers in thanking you for these two fine stories about the top participants in what is almost certainly America's No. 1 participant sport.
MATT M. RACKI III
National Bowlers Journal
Three cheers to Herman Weiskopf for his interesting story on the PWBA. I was fortunate to see the tournament here in Akron in April and wow! What bowling. These girls are a real boost for women's sports. I enjoyed seeing them perform and it is nice to see them being recognized.
I was amazed to see the high scores these girls bowl and also how attractive and feminine they are. Thanks for the article.
While glancing through FACES IN THE CROWD of your May 21 issue, I came across the picture of the lad who "holds 13 track and field records for one-year-olds." Despite the silliness of keeping such "records," I want to nominate his creators for Pushy Parents of the Year. Let us hope he will not peak in kindergarten.
STUART G. MORRIS
Here in the San Fernando Valley, children's track programs are getting more popular. I heard one coach of a girls' team call for those trying out for the 880 and the mile. Five girls, aged about seven to 12, reported. Another coach runs his boys, ages nine to 15, as hard as a high school team. They do quarter miles one after another, with little rest between. They are hollered at to finish their distance races strong. Eight-year-olds already know the pressure of being timed for quarter miles—and longer distances. They practice several times a week and have formal meets about once a week, traveling anywhere from 20 to 100 miles to race. No doubt there will be many new records in each age group this year and from now on. And there will be hundreds of kids trying to be the youngest ever to be a four-minute miler.
But what are the consequences? For years the medical profession has been debating whether young pitchers are hurting their arms permanently by trying to throw curves. Instead of waiting for a rash of serious injuries in 14-year-olds, how about some responsible group of doctors running a crash program right now and determining whether it is wise to let the tots run distances in competition? It would seem to me, a layman, that these children are straining and running the risk of torn muscles, ligaments and Achilles' tendons. Also, it is possible that there is psychological damage from pressure at that age. It is further possible that they suffer from being "coached" by people who know nothing of training methods.
I hope I am wrong about all these things. But will somebody please take the trouble to prove it?
ARTHUR M. BRADFORD
Woodland Hills, Calif.
Your article on Nolan Ryan (An Angel Who Makes Turnstiles Sing, May 14) gave us another example of a National League player who, upon being dealt to the American League, mysteriously finds a new life. I cite the cases of Gaylord Perry, Frank Robinson, Mike Cuellar, Sandy Alomar, Ken Holtzman, Fred Patek and Cookie Rojas, who all seem to have come up with the best year(s) of their career since being transferred from the National to the "Junior Circuit." In contrast, look what happened to Joe Foy, Jim McGlothlin, Jim Fregosi, Jim Nash and Sam McDowell when they went to the National League.
One must give the American League some credit, though. It does an excellent job of serving as a retirement home for National League stars who have seen better days, such as the Alou brothers (Matty and Felipe), Orlando Cepeda, Rico Carty, Vada Pinson and Deron Johnson.
There is no doubt that the National is the stronger league.
New Haven, Conn.
It is obvious from his article Yanking Tile off the Ocean Floor (May 21) that Dan Levin knows little or nothing about bottom fishing. He made a mockery of the hundreds of thousands of people who go bottom fishing throughout the United States and enjoy it. His remarks, "It is a waiting game fishing for tilefish, and a weighty one, but that is all.... It is blue and yellow and silver, like a Peter Max hippie.... It was plentiful and easily caught and quickly forgotten for 50 years.... It does not taste like much of anything," show his ignorance of the subject.
Bottom fishing is one of the most popular participant sports in America. Tilefishing is one facet of bottom fishing. I have been taking people tilefishing on a steady basis since 1970, and the repeat percentage of fishermen runs as high as 70. The tile is a good bottom fighter, a very strong fish and can be likened to a blackfish (tautog), when using wire line. When using monofilament line, the tile acts more like a cod, although it will run like a pollack at times. Ninety percent of the people who fish for tile enjoy eating them. The meat is flaky, white and far superior in taste to most of the top-feeding sport fish.
I would not let Dan Levin cover a snowball fight for me.
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