My compliments on your article Fight, Ladies, Fight! (March 10). As one who competed in five high school varsity sports (of which cheerleading was the most important in the minds of the administrators) and who now plays field hockey for the University of Connecticut, I have experienced and am experiencing the same feelings as those expressed by the Penn State women. Women who compete in athletics place as much importance on their sport as do their male counterparts. Thank you for recognizing this.
Pat Jordan has pointed out some of the conflicts in women's sports programs. Since many of the same conflicts exist in minor men's sports, the article was doubly of interest to me. I am appalled at the emphasis on scholarships. Major college sports are big business, and athletic scholarships are simply capital investments in this business. Granted, college athletic associations have abused scholarships, but this does not justify further abuse. Lest it be thought that I want to keep women from getting their share of the gold, let me state that I advocate the closing of this gold mine, since it makes a mockery of both sportsmanship and the student-athlete, two concepts it was intended to promote. Let's get support from the schools for all sports, but let's not insist on scholarships, with their attendant pressures to win titles, as part of that support.
DAVID A. ERB
Confronted by the bastardization of the spirit of men's amateur sports, it occurs to me that women might well examine whether they want to become part of the collegiate pressurized package geared to institutional aggrandizement. Perhaps, in the interest of the women whom they serve, women's sports should continue to promote individual development and self-discipline. Might not women's sports be separate but still equal and much more philosophically honest?
ROXANNE L. Voss
Penn State 1970
Union Springs, N.Y.
The point of view expressed by Penn Slate's female athletes is the traditional Olympic philosophy of sport: participation, friendship and personal growth. Sadly, even the Olympics are dominated today by nationalism and aggression.
March 23, 1975
What is the function of sport? Is it meant to lead to the lionization of an elite few at the expense of all the others? Is its purpose to create a mythical pecking order of superstars on enormous salaries paid by hordes of vicarious thrill seekers whose interest is manipulated by marketing wizards?. The women at Penn State have given us all a lot to think about.
PETER J. MATJE JR.
North Wildwood, N.J.
Sherri Landes reminds me of my sister, the late Mary Ward Neuman, who was one of the pioneer women in riflery in 1924-25. As a Chicago Lake View High School student, she fired a 500 out of 500 possible, leading her team to city, state and national titles. She fired on the Dewar Team (the Davis Cup of riflery) against England in 1929, shooting a 395 out of a possible total of 400. She made Ripley's Believe It Or Not, was featured on Pathé News, was offered a movie contract and endorsed rifles and ammunition.
"Sure-Shot Mary" gave it all up to go to college. She shares with Sherri the demure, innocent belief that rifles are used only on targets, not people or animals. Alone in the house, she heard unidentified noises and sat on her bed frozen in fear for an hour until our parents came home. Her rifle stood in the corner three feet away.
THE REV. DONALD B. WARD
First Congregational Church
A YOUNG MAN'S FANCY
I'm glad you printed Bobby Dodd's opinion of spring football practice in your magazine ("The Rites and Wrongs of Spring," SCORECARD, March 3). I hope my high school coach read the item and agrees with Dodd. We have spring training when most of us would rather be playing baseball, chasing girls or collecting baseball cards.
What a relief to learn that we are not alone in our desire to conquer moguls (A Bit of Bump and Run, March 10). From this day forth may bump fanatics throughout America unite, perched undaunted upon the summits of such slopes, courage in one hand, insanity in the other. The lunacy of mogul busting is evident, the lift immeasurable and the esprit de corps of mogul freaks unmatched. There is no greater bang in skiing. Thanks lumps, Billy Kidd!
BEWARE THE COLD
While your publication is deservedly well-recognized for the scope of its coverage, the article Growing Weak by Degrees (March 10) was especially enlightening. The subject of exposure has relevance regardless of where we live. Even we Texans can attest to the need for such knowledge after having spent a January day in the Panhandle. Thanks for passing the word.
B. GEORGE NEHLSEN
IN PURSUIT OF THE HUCHEN
Clive Gammon has done it again! What he did with trout in 1973 he has done with salmon in 1975; Czeching on the Huchen (March 3) is a total delight. With Old Jellyneck in the pouch and Clive Gammon in the lead, I would tiptoe my 220-pound frame over the thinnest of ice in pursuit of the imperiled Hucho hucho.
Although he may have let some big ones get away, don't you let the biggest one—Mr. Gammon—get away. He is a master of fishing lore and piscatorial adventure.
JOHN J. HARDING JR.
I heartily enjoyed Clive Gammon's story on the little-known yet majestic member of the salmon family, the huchen. The story had just the proper blend of ecology, history and sport and conveyed those intangible qualities that enliven the curiosity of any serious angler.
Perhaps the most important theme of Mr. Gammon's story, though, is the one that is often obscured in most real-life sporting situations: the necessity for a conscious conservation program and an intelligent approach to the stalking and killing of any living thing.
After reading Richard Johnston's article The Vikings Were Steelier (Feb. 24) I think the next step in the exploitation of Dick Button's Superstar idea is the Announcers Superstars. Such a competition would draw audiences in search of fun, provide laughs and might even deflate the egos of some of the noted announcers. Imagine the joy of watching Jim McKay ride a bike, Keith Jackson swim, Howard Cosell run the 100 or Curt Gowdy the obstacle course. Of course, former professional athletes like Frank Gifford, Oscar Robertson and Tony Kubek would not be eligible (although Alex Karras might make an excellent obstacle), except for the Network Announcing Team Competition. ABC has a good thing in the Superstars, but misses the point: people enjoy watching others make fools of themselves more than they enjoy watching high-salaried athletes make more money.
While reading your article on China's recapture of the Swaythling Cup (Pips for the Bats of China, Feb. 24), I was very disappointed by Dick Miles' explanation of the unorthodox serve of table-tennis wizard Hsu Shao-fa. After indicating that one must understand the concept of space and time to appreciate Hsu's style, Miles explains why Hsu throws the ball 15 feet into the air on his serve. The reason, he says, is that the added velocity of the ball increases its mass, thus enabling Hsu to impart more spin to the ball.
This is absurd. Anyone who has studied the space-time relationship could calculate, as I did, that the mass gained by an object through a 15-foot drop would be approximately one ten-thousandth of one billionth of its rest mass. I can hardly believe that this would create a noticeable effect. Furthermore, even if the mass of the ball increased significantly, it is difficult to see why it would be easier to apply spin, since the impulse required for an object to acquire a given amount of spin increases in proportion to the mass of the object.
If one were truly intent on explaining the effectiveness of Hsu's unusual serve by the laws of physics, he would be well-advised to study the angular momentum of the ball rather than its mass.
A VOTE FOR SNOWY
Kent Hannon's article about Snowy Simpson (Twilight on the Wabash, March 10) evoked fond memories. I was an undergraduate at Pitt while Snowy was a janitor there. I had respect for him as a kind, earthy, knowledgeable gentleman. I remember how I felt at the end of a day's practice: tired, edgy and down. Snowy always had a kind word, a compliment, something to raise up my spirits. The people at Wabash had better not let go of their basketball coach. They'll never latch on to a finer man, on or off the court.
Brock Yates' article True Grit to the Last Lap (Feb. 24) on dirt-track racing was fine. The demise of the Tampa track saddens all of us who enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of dirt-track racing and who admire the skills and courage of chargers like Kenny Weld and Jan Opperman.
Opperman is a different sort of guy, and Weld is one of a family of Midwestern racing favorites. I am acquainted with the Welds and in the '60s was thrilled to see at Kansas City tracks a trophy dash made up of the four fastest finishers in the time trials—Jerry, Greg and Kenny Weld, and Bob Williams in Pappy Weld's car. One reason Kenny went east to Pennsylvania was to compete with someone besides family for the prize money.
Please, let's have more from Brock Yates, the Hemingway of the wheeled world, and more about dirt tracks before they go the way of the dinosaurs.
JOHN P. SWEZY
Many thanks for the article on the sprint cars at Tampa. Without doubt, sprint-car racing is the best form of motor sports competition. I attended two shows at Tampa this year, and was saddened by the news that no more racing will be held there. Life must go on, but memories of Tampa will always go broadsliding through my mind.
If you would like to see some real action, I suggest you visit one of the KARS (Keystone Auto Racing on Speedways) tracks in central Pennsylvania promoted by one of the best dirt-track promoters, Jack Gunn. Here is where you'll see fantastic wheel-to-wheel duels that defy description. The great fire-breathing winged wonders begin their season March 22.
I find it hard to believe that reader Greg Prince (March 3) really thinks that "expansion is the best thing to happen to hockey since the slap shot." In less than 20 years, we have gone from six major league teams to an incredible 32. It is true that the increased number of teams allows more people to be exposed to hockey. However, hockey is not the game it was even five years ago when there were 12 teams.
Many of the present participants would not have played a few years ago. Recently many expansion teams have done well, but any team that does well under current conditions is just the cream of a watered-down crop. I wonder how many people have seen a real professional hockey game.
Address editorial mail to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, TIME & LIFE Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.