MOST POWERFUL MAN
Ray Kennedy's piece on Mark McCormack (On His Mark, May 12) convinced me of one thing: there is someone in sports who may be worse than Charlie O. Finley. Like Finley, McCormack constantly brags of his accomplishments and is critical of anyone who has an opinion different from his own.
"Fans do tend to be children," he says. "They try to pretend that the athlete of their fancy is out there doing what he excels at for some greater good or glory than a buck." He calls this a "naive view." Then later in the article he is talking about his company and states, "We want to do what is best for our clients and the game." No mention of the buck. Naive, indeed! He would have made a heckuva politician.
If ever there was someone out to kill the golden goose it is Mark H. McCormack. The faster he runs, the more we fans pay.
JOHN S. RITCHIE
Mark McCormack certainly has been a boon to pro sport. Rising ticket prices and failing tournaments and franchises are monuments to his greed in the name of clients. Someday soon, perhaps, Mr. McCormack will replace the Super Bowl with Superstars. Or possibly just eliminate the World Series as "ill-conceived." After all, Mr. McCormack is the most powerful man in pro sport. Ain't it wonderful.
T. N. WOOLFOLK
I was taken aback by the assertion that Atlanta is a sports oddity (TV/RADIO, May 5). I believe I know the exact reason Atlanta does not support its professional sports more avidly. Atlanta's teams are all pathetic, bungling, mismanaged losers. Over the few short years Atlantans have had professional sports they have lost their patience looking for winners among the ashes of the South's "sports empire." Any team that wins and whose first name is "Atlanta" will be rewarded with adoration and a healthy box office.
ROBERT A. NANCE
Having seen Jimmy Connors, "The Million-Dollar Kid," on your cover (May 5) and then having discovered cursory mention of Will Rodgers, Boston Marathon record setter, in FOR THE RECORD, I must protest. I object to your glorifying only those events that involve absurd amounts of money. I protest your ignoring an amateur event that is unique and wonderful and which this year produced a thrilling upset in one of the fastest marathons of all time. If Will Rodgers and the 2,000 runners chasing him were also chasing oodles of prize money, would you then consider the event significant? Of course you would.
It's not exactly a secret that sport in America has become a gluttonous, overstuffed beast. Schedules are far too long; athletes labor for months to get to a series of interminable playoffs that may soon stretch to the beginning of the next season, like a dragon swallowing its own tail. Instead of encouraging this insatiably greedy state of affairs by featuring a Million-Dollar Twerp, why not seek out the real stories?
I'll have to give you credit for the excellent article on young Houston McTear in the same issue. But his moment of truth has yet to arrive. The Marathon has come and gone, and where was SPORTS ILLUSTRATED? At Caesars Palace!
Kittery Point, Maine
Jack Nicklaus stated that a high-stakes head-to-head match between him and Johnny Miller would be bad for golf in the long run, but I feel that if the proceeds, which certainly would be substantial, were donated to the Olympic fund, such a match would be a great and almost painless way to get essential contributions.
Hats off to Ron Reid for his article on Houston McTear (Tearing His Way Up From Nowhere, May 5). As you know, McTear has since run the 100-yard dash in 9.0, tying the world record. I am glad you saw fit to give him some recognition before he tied the record.
As an ardent sports fan, a concerned citizen and a hard-working taxpayer, I am shocked that in this modern time a strapping, talented young man such as Houston McTear or his brother George can be punished for "eating too much." What has America's sense of responsibility and compassion come to that we allow a situation such as this to exist? We open our country and treasury to citizens of other countries while many of our own citizens live in poverty. Is it right that the Americans who are undernourished be last on our list of priorities?
I also live among the soybean farms and pine forests of the Sunshine State's panhandle and my Florida also is more like the backwoods of Alabama than Palm Beach, but I see life as most rural American blacks and whites do, not out of the eyes of a materialistic urban society. Having been exposed through college and travel to the so-called urban advantages, I feel Ron Reid is the one who is lost and deprived. I am sure Houston McTear could find just as much fault with your noise-polluted, overcrowded, crime-and-drug-infested asphalt jungle as you did with his small-time, small-town environment of Milligan, Fla. McTear's lifestyle isn't up to Reid's American Dream, but here is a high school athlete with smog-free lungs, from a family supported by his father's labor and from a community where both blacks and whites are donating their time and money to see one of theirs make a name for himself. It would be a shame if the frills of Reid's world tempted McTear just as he is starting to go first class, because Houston can identify with his environment, as backward as it may seem. McTear knows where he's tearing up from, and he knows who is behind him.
Along with Ron Reid, I cross my fingers in the hope that Houston McTear overcomes the monetary temptations our athletic system is sure to test him with in the years ahead.
My main concern, however, is over the Florida custom of punishment called "boarding." Have those school officials no feeling for modern enlightenment? Don't they recognize the horrible possibility that a whole generation of Florida schoolchildren could grow up and enter the world possessed of manners and respect for others?
UNBROKEN SPIRIT (CONT.)
If we had not just completed a two-year study and survey on the impact of feral burros on desert wildlife habitats, we would have been completely won over by the magic and glamour of the "final epic Wild West drama" starring Wild Horse Annie and her gang of schoolchildren (Wild West Showdown, May 5). Velma Johnston is to be commended for the fine job she has done in obtaining humane treatment for horses and burros on the open range. However, horses are horses, and burros are not horses—and we are looking for a gang of school kids somewhere out there in America who care about butterflies, birds, lizards, tortoises and bighorn sheep. These are the species that are seriously impacted in areas overpopulated by feral burros. Herman Weiskopf only scratched the surface in his article.
BEN and MIRIAM ROMERO
The article did a thorough job of telling one side of a controversial and emotional issue. A letter cannot begin to tell the other side. However, as a cattle rancher, I want to make a few comments.
The statement that cattlemen believe in "dominant use" of the public lands by livestock is wrong. The livestock industry has long advocated "multiple use."
The figure of 1% of the food cattle being grazed on public land may be correct but needs explanation. The cattle grazed on public land are brood animals which supply replacements to other livestock operations and cattle for the feed lots. Cattle grazed on public land are very seldom directly slaughtered for food. Taking this into consideration, public-land grazing is of far greater importance than the article would indicate.
Very few ranchers advocate the extermination of wild horses. All of them advocate their being controlled to a number compatible with the sustained-yield carrying capacity of the range while still making room for other uses on a sustained basis. One thing that was not mentioned was that numbers can now be controlled, if the federal agencies desire. But unless individuals will take care of the excess animals under a cooperative agreement, they can only be put to death. Surely, in this protein-deficient world there is a better solution. There is no reason why the excess horses should not be put to commercial use or even slaughtered, if done humanely and in a sanitary manner.
The reference to "a Kiddie Cavalry of thousands of schoolchildren, most of whom have never seen a wild horse," should tell something of the practicality of this wild horse law.
LESLIE J. STEWART
Paradise Valley, Nev.
The abuse of public lands and of the creatures that live there by certain avaricious private interests is both despicable and shameful. People like Velma Johnston and articles such as Herman Weiskopf's perform a valuable public service.
SAMUEL D. HINKLE IV
Address editorial mail to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, TIME & LIFE Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.