TROUBLE IN TAFT
Congratulations on your article Violent Return to a Troubled Past (June 23). I am glad to see that people who can speak out do so. The fight to expose ignorance and bigotry needs all the help it can get. I hope that more than just exposure will be the result of your article. The situation in Taft, Calif. is a familiar one in many small towns throughout the country. Good luck to the athletes who are going back to Taft College for another try and "right on" to the good element in Taft for its efforts to try to control and search out the trouble in the town. Too few people want to get involved or do anything these days. It is refreshing to find some who are concerned.
I was sickened but glad to read in SI the article concerning the troubles at Taft College. I also was glad to read Rocky Bleier's War in your June 9 issue. No doubt you will receive letters complaining that neither the Vietnam war nor the racial turmoil of a small community is a subject for a sports magazine, yet it is precisely this kind of blind ness that allows a situation like the one in Taft to get out of hand. I hope SI will continue to print such articles. Unfortunately, some people have managed to ignore or forget Hitler and Jesse Owens, the tragedy of the 1972 Olympics and the problems involved in South African competitions, not to mention countless other events that are less publicized. For those who have missed the obvious connection between world and national affairs and the world of sports, SI is providing a necessary service.
Keep hitting them in the face with it; agitation is one possible step to enlightenment.
LAURA C. STRUDWICK
I didn't find the article worthy of SI. It seems to be very one-sided, particularly the account of Joe Rhone's carrying a sawed-off shotgun which "accidentally" wounded Doug Henry. Somehow I couldn't sympathize with Rhone to the extent that Joe Jares seemed to expect.
I suspect that both the athletes and the thugs in the town were to blame for the violent events narrated. However, Jares never really reveals the cause of these events. He merely implies that a Ku Klux Klan mentality was responsible, which, to me at least, seems too simple an explanation. Innocent blacks versus evil whites is a trite situation that I doubt exists in Taft, or elsewhere.
LARRY J. REYNOLDS
College Station, Texas
As a former resident of Tulare, Calif., I thought the article on racism in Taft was long overdue. As you pointed out, it is not a recent development in Taft's history and it does not stop at the city limits. The same problem exists in varying degrees in Delano, Porterville, Tulare and most of the other small towns in the southern part of the San Joaquin Valley.
Taft has now been nationally embarrassed and should take this time to re-evaluate its standards and, one hopes, establish a precedent of racial tolerance and acceptance for the entire valley.
Blacks are more readily accepted in athletics than in any other field, but a school must have the complete support of the community to go any further in seeing that "equal rights" are in fact equal for all human beings, black, white, red, brown or yellow.
BARBARA LIGHT NESSLE
Fort Monroe, Va.
From "Legend" to "Loon," your issue of June 23 was one of the finest cover to cover that I have read in quite a while. I was most impressed with the variety of the articles: from Joe Jares' exposé of the racially troubled town of Taft, Calif. to tarpon fishing in the Florida Keys to the initial appearance in New York of a true superstar on the American scene. You put together a complete resume of sport in its many realms, on and off the field.
Watch out football, futebol is here. With Pelé's arrival in the U.S. (Curtain Call for a Legend, June 23), soccer will no longer be a "minor" sport. It already is on the rise with younger Americans; it just hasn't yet flourished on the pro scene. Jerry Kirshenbaum deserves a standing ovation for his excellent article on Pelé.
In his article You Hear Loons Calling (June 23) Mason Smith created as eloquent a piece of contemporary journalism as I have read in your magazine, maybe in any magazine. I heard the fresh sounds of his quiet summer, of water lapping on newly varnished wood. Smith's words are laid together as tightly as are the ribs on his brother's Rushton canoe.
I greatly enjoyed the article by Mason Smith. Many people have discovered the satisfaction of designing, building and sailing their own craft. It is a total and individual effort carried out in a world characterized by mass production and lost identity. The work is hard with little monetary gain, yet the reward is great if you are willing to make the sacrifice.
People like Mason Smith and marine museums and shops such as those in Mystic, Conn. and Bath, Maine are helping to expand an art that had nearly become extinct. The admirers of J. Henry Rushton, Howard I. Chapelle and Nathanael Herreshoff are indebted to you.
William Leggett's suggestion (TV/RADIO, June 23) that the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences consider an Emmy sports award program is an excellent one. The growth of sports on television during the past 15 years has been phenomenal and it is time that the sports Emmys have their own place on the tube.
The problem is that the growth is all too recent by TV standards. Before 1960 ABC had no sports department and CBS and NBC sports vice-presidents were directly under news departments.
Leggett's periodic comments on TV sports are excellent.
North Hollywood, Calif.
Xenophobia is growing (It Was a Foreign Affair, June 16). I am one American who is appalled at the notion that there is something wrong or even unfair about foreign athletes competing and winning in the NCAA track championships.
We Americans pride ourselves on being a nation of immigrants and one that judges people on merit. There is nothing wrong with a university letting the best athletes, of whatever heritage, represent it in athletic competition.
Any collegian's education is heightened by meeting, being a teammate of and competing against articulate students from different cultures. These non-American athletes, many of whom are honor students, give American society much more than they take from it.
The NCAA track meet is held to determine the best American collegians, not the best American collegians.
Funny, when Villanova imported runners from Ireland, it was considered quaint; import a few Kenyans and it's a threat to the Republic.
Congratulations to Ron Reid on an excellent article about the NCAA track and field meet. Why should we allow universities such as UTEP to have aliens compete for them? After all, the "N" in NCAA stands for "national," as in one nation, not many nations. So why aren't further restrictions placed on the foreigners competing in collegiate track and field? They use our facilities and continue to improve, and then they return home to take away medals from Uncle Sam in the Olympics as a result of this improvement. Any university that has to resort to this tactic has got to be hurting.
UCLA Track Coach Jim Bush is mighty upset about UTEP's successful use of alien athletes, but he is neglecting the practices of his own school. UTEP's use of non-U.S. citizens is no more repugnant than a college handing out scholarships to U.S. athletes who live as far away as 3,000 miles, as UCLA has done in basketball in recruiting the likes of Lew Alcindor (New York City), Andre McCarter (Philadelphia), Pete Trgovich (East Chicago, Ind.) and Richard Washington (Portland, Ore.).
If "win at any cost" is the objective of schools like UCLA and UTEP, why let foreign boundaries become a barrier?
MICHAEL D. HOLLIDAY
South Pasadena, Calif.
Ron Reid's article on the NCAA outdoor track meet has to be the most biased ever printed in your magazine. If he had done a little research, he might have recalled that when UCLA Coach Jim Bush won his first national championship, he had a rather large foreign contingent scoring points for him.
We in El Paso are all very proud of Coach Ted Banks and Assistant Coach John We-del and the fine job they have done in putting together "the best track team" in America—and, believe me, that's what it is. Certainly, we have many fine foreign athletes who are attending our university and we are proud that they have chosen to get their education here. El Paso takes great pride in being an international city, both in spirit and in fact. We do not give out awards for chauvinism in any form.
MAXINE V. NEILL
What a delightful story on Jim Kaat (Jim's Jolly Rejuvenation, June 9). I remember him as one of the better American League pitchers when he was 21 and I was a 9-year-old in the Bronx. It was with nostalgic pleasure that I read of his 21 victories last season. In these days of the designated hitter it is not as hard for an outfielder to prolong his career, but for a pitcher it is a tremendous achievement. Congratulations, Jim Kaat, may you pitch until you have won 300 games.
PRESENTS FROM THE METS
Your article on Nolan Ryan (Bringer of the Big Heat, June 16) made mc realize that in the past few years the New York Mets have traded away many potential stars who later turned into top-name players for other teams. One is Ryan, who was traded with three others for Jim Fregosi, now playing only part time for Billy Martin's Rangers. Another is Amos Otis, star outfielder for the Royals. He not only carries a hot bat, he has speed and a fine glove. In the National League, Buzz Capra, picked up from the Mets for an estimated $35,000, emerged as a 16-game winner for the Braves. And consider the Rusty Staub deal, which sent Ken Singleton, Mike Jorgensen and Tim Foli, all promising young players, to the Expos. This year the Mets traded Tug McGraw and Don Hahn to the Phils.
Lately it seems that everyone is complaining about the "excessive" length of the seasons in major professional sports. I can only ask how they can be too long if you are a sports fan. To me the seasons of football, baseball, hockey, basketball, etc. are, if anything, over too quickly. If I am enjoying a good book, I don't complain about its being too long; if I am having a particularly good day, I don't complain about its being too long. Can you really get too much of a good thing?
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