VEEP'S VIEWS VIEWED
At the time Gerald Ford (In Defense of the Competitive Urge, July 8) became Vice-President I knew very little about him. I was convinced he was nothing but a political toy who was chosen for his lack of ability. In recent months Ford has proven himself to me and to millions of other Americans, and now that I have read his article, my respect for him has been elevated to the highest level. Ford is a scrapper who makes a lot of sense.
As many ballplayers are underrated, many politicians are underrated, Vice-President Ford being one of them.
ROBERT G. GUARINELLO
Seeing Vice-President Gerald Ford on your cover was bad enough, but reading his article was worse. He never gets beyond hokey old football stories and archaic philosophy.
The "competitive urge" is an old concept related to what 19th century historians referred to as the "frontier spirit." It can also be regarded simply as the survival of the fittest. Throughout America's history cutthroat competition has been religiously defended while the minorities, the poor and the weak have suffered. Now we are witnessing the deification of Vince Lombardi and his dogma that "winning is the only thing." The Soap Box Derby scandal is an example of the attitude of many Americans who rationalize their overzealousness on the basis of "everyone docs it." The competitive urge has also wrecked the free-enterprise system by encouraging large monopolies to "win" greater profits by crushing the opposition.
July 21, 1974
Let us realize that ruthlessness and immorality arc directly proportional to America's need to win. Competition in sport is one thing, making a fetish of it is another.
THOMAS E. HILTON
As I understand the Vice-President's message, I am handicapped mentally, morally and spiritually because I did not play football.
BRADLEY C. JUDKINS
As if this country didn't have enough trouble, you feature the Vice-President on your cover, thus putting the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED jinx on him! What are you trying to do?
BIG ON THE SMALLS
The issue of July 8 was one of the best ever. My hope is that it wasn't merely the annual token issue to small sports. How nice to see cycling covered in the lead article (An Ace Came out of the Pack).
New York City
Bravo! SI has covered one of the few true physical sports in this country. Bicycle racing is the most demanding American sport, although it gets little recognition. Cycling requires the tactics of chess, the stamina of marathon running, the daring of downhill skiing—and unequaled dedication.
Sister Bay, Wis.
As a member of that "generation of the '30s and World War II," I very much enjoyed Mark Kram's poignant article Ring of Bright Marbles (July 8). I am sure that members of every generation pause from time to time in this frantic race we all run to gaze back to a moment of their youth and reflect that theirs were the best of times. But Kram had to have been there with me and a lot of other "middle-aged" Americans who knew the pure joy of the long hot summer, the endless alleys and vacant lots, the sunrise-to-sunset games and imagination of youth. We were definitely loved, but loved in a way that allowed us to be just kids, not "the future of America in bold letters." Kram is so right. A kid left to his own devices does experience a beautiful aloneness.
RAY M. SMITH
Mark Kram asks, "Where have all the butterflies gone?" I can tell him. Consider it an epitaph for our modern American mentality: we yearn for butterflies and at the same time enthusiastically spray poison on caterpillars. The solution is to give the Disney people a contract to develop a programmed, plastic, biodegradable butterfly. Only in Disneyland can we have butterflies without those horrid caterpillars.
Huntington Beach, Calif.
Mark Kram's article is a work of art. His style lends a refreshing dimension to sportswriting. Let's have more of the same.
My hat is off to you for your remarkable article revealing the thoughts and personality of one of my heroes, Arnold Palmer (With Each Round, You Are One Day Older, July 1). His honesty and warmth come through to the reader from the beginning of the article to the end.
Arnie truly loves the game, but he unselfishly shares it with millions of people every time he steps on a course. And now once again he has shared his feeling about golf with us as though we were his close friends. I am most pleased with Arnie's final statement that he "will be around."
What is it with these golfers? They're always complaining about age, stress, strain, tension, etc. Funny you never hear George Blanda complaining about age, and he plays a man's sport. You seldom hear any women golfers complain about the physical part of the game—and that is what it is, a game, not a sport. The men on the PGA tour seem to me to be overdressed, overpaid and over the hill at 40.
Glen Cove, Maine
Arnie's interesting article reminded me of an old definition of confidence: the feeling you have before you really understand the situation.
CARING FOR WHIT
It came as a shock to this not-so-old baseball fan to read in Pat Jordan's Reprieve for a Madman (July 8) that Whitlow Wyatt achieved his greatest success as a pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers when he "faced a war-weakened National League," achieving records of "22-10 in 1941, 19-7 in 1942 and 14-5 in 1943."
Perhaps the major leagues were war-weakened by late 1942, but such was not the casein 1941. Suffice it to say that in 1941 Ted Williams batted .406, Joe DiMaggio hit in 56 straight games and the Dodgers, who won the National League pennant, numbered among their players Pee Wee Reese, Pete Reiser, Kirby Higbe, Dixie Walker, Hugh Casey, Joe Medwick, Fred Fitzsimmons, Mickey Owen, Dolf Camilli and Billy Herman. The New York Yankees, who won the World Series, fielded a lineup that included, besides DiMaggio, Bill Dickey, Joe Gordon, Phil Rizzuto, Red Rolfe, Charlie Keller, Tommy Henrich and Red Ruffing. It impugns Wyatt's splendid 1941 record, the best of his career, to attribute it erroneously to "war-weakened" opposition.
Pat Jordan must know that the "one thing in me that was special to me" is writing, not pitching. If he louses up this time by not cultivating his talent, then he has real reason to be disgusted with himself. Otherwise, he can't miss being the best sportswriter to come along since Ring Lardner. Congratulations on finding and printing the most poetic baseball material I've read in years.
I found Bil Gilbert's article Haunting the Arctic (July 8) most interesting. However, for those who might like to read a much more detailed account of the epochal John Franklin Arctic journeys, I would recommend Farley Mowat's Tundra, which includes a good part of Franklin's diary and contains diaries and narratives concerning other early Arctic explorations. Mowat is perhaps the best informed and certainly the most prolific of those who have written about the frozen north.
HESKIN A. WHITTAKER
Clive Gammon's article The Cup that Grips the World (July 1) not only told me about World Cup soccer, it got me interested in the game. I now own a soccer ball and practice every day in my backyard.
For years you have attacked shamateurism, in both editorial comments and numerous articles. But all the incriminating pictures and thousands of damning words did not have one-tenth the impact of your one simple photograph and 10 straightforward sentences on Moses Malone (Hello There, Mr. Malone, What's New? July 1).
MARK EVANS ALEXANDER
I am certainly not one to knock Moses Malone's basketball talents. If all indications are correct, they are considerable indeed. I shall enjoy watching him perform for the University of Maryland this winter.
Too many people, however, seem to be forgetting that Moses is, after all, a human being—an individual to be reckoned with. I only hope that he can withstand the intense pressures from his many "friends" who would eagerly exploit his talents for their own personal gain and have no problem at all forgetting about good ol' Moses, the young man.
TED KING JR.
For Mr. Malone's sake I am glad he decided to attend Maryland because it is part of the Establishment and the NCAA will not pursue any possible violations against the UCLA of the East, let alone the UCLA of the West.
PATRICK S. GUZMAN
Long Beach, Calif.
Come on, SI, turn Ray Kennedy loose to see if there is more behind the events leading to Moses Malone going to Maryland and Lefty Driesell.
DAVID K. BOSWELL
What's new in Terrapin Country is some more of that ol' time roundball religion. Lord Lefty got Moses and all of us can continue to sing "Amen."
HOWARD A. WOLF
Where does it say that NCAA championships ought to be American championships (Foreign Invasion, June 24)? An organization that claims to be a national collegiate association ought to embrace all the students of its member schools. I think the "America for Americans" faction of the NCAA ought to spin off into another group. They could call themselves National Association of United States Indigenous Athletes: NAUSIA.
D. F. CAPORALE
Fountain Valley, Calif.
BAD EGGS (CONT.)
It was somewhat surprising to read in Clive Gammon's article (The Case of the Absent Eggs, June 24) such statements as "the drive to collect seems somehow primitive," and "there must be a better way to knowledge than stealing eggs." We, as zoologists, do not question the right of hundreds of thousands of your readers to hunt ducks and other game, although hunting may be called "primitive" and there might be better ways to indulge in sport. The collecting of eggs or specimens of the truly threatened species is not to be condoned, but there is a legitimate need for scientific specimens of other species. The proper management of wildlife is partly dependent upon information gained from collecting. Eggs laboriously secured, labeled, dated and cared for by laymen and scientists provided material that documented the deadly effects of pesticides. Scientific collecting is becoming ever more difficult because of 1) the anti-killing sentiment: 2) the lack of political power by the small number of those who collect; and 3) the inadequate understanding of population biology embodied in many regulations and in their enforcement.
The basic wildlife problem is not collecting but habitat destruction. Given enough habitat to maintain healthy populations, most species can support far more cropping than is done by the few thousand scientific collectors. In one Asian country we have seen signs stating "No Collecting of Butterflies, Birds or Other Animals" posted about virgin forests that a few weeks later had been clear-cut and burned over, the rich topsoil lost in daily rains, the fauna utterly destroyed—this in five-and 10-square-mile swaths. It is of course illegal to collect scientifically in a country such as this or to import specimens from such devastated areas into the U.S. But, for a fee, sportsmen find no difficulty in hunting threatened tigers.
LESTER L. SHORT
WALTER J. BOCK
BAD BEHAVIOR (CONT.)
Ron Fimrite's article (Take Me Out to the Brawl Came, June 17) overlooked what may be the most important factor in fan behavior. It talked about beer, anti-Establishment feelings, lack of loyalty on the part of athletes, and the more distant view of players in new stadiums as reasons for the abhorrent actions of some fans. These are factors, but they merely amplify the basic problem.
It seems to me that its core is the code of ethics present in virtually all organized sports. This code allows a baseball player to break up double plays by knocking over the pivot man and a manager to start arguments with umpires to stir up his players. It encourages illegal holding in football and the swinging of elbows while pursuing a rebounding basketball. We describe the perpetrators of these activities with words like colorful, aggressive and hustling.
Every owner wants his team to inspire the fans. It looks like a successful year.
JAMES E. BARNES II
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