I like to think of myself as a typical, red-blooded American male. But lately I've been worried that something might be wrong. I got a bigger thrill out of your photo of Sheila Young skating to her Olympic gold medal (On Came the Heroes, Feb. 16) than I did from your annual swimsuit pictures.
WILLIAM E. CARSLEY
Every four years I develop strange symptoms, including extreme feelings of happiness, sadness, joy and pride. A correlation has been drawn by my doctors between my symptoms and the Olympic Games. My condition, they say, is due to a textbook case of that dread disease, Olympic nationalism. But they are wrong! It is true I cheered and wept for Sheila Young, Dorothy Hamill, Bill Koch and the rest of the Americans, but my unusual emotional condition can also be traced to the performances of Rosi Mittermaier, Franz Klammer and the sad-eyed Dianne de Leeuw. My affliction is caused by people, not nations. "Humanism!" I yelled at my doctor, "I've contracted humanism!" "It's possible," he replied, "although I think humanism was stamped out long ago."
I hope we have an epidemic.
JOHN B. P. YOUNG III
P.S. D. Hamill, I love you.
Never have I been more impressed by a sporting event than I was by Franz Klammer's downhill victory. To say that it was sensational is not enough.
Perhaps the time has come to open the Olympics to all athletes, regardless of the "tainting" of their souls by professionalism. If an athlete's proficiency is such that people are willing to pay him to perform, that simply attests to his ability. At least the proposal to permit professional (there's that nasty word again) athletes to participate as amateurs in sports other than their specialty is a step in the right direction.
If the present "amateur" restriction is to exist, it should be applied equally or be abolished. The present situation is ludicrous.
RICHARD D. MacMILLAN
Of all the performances turned in at the 12th Winter Olympics, those of American cross-country skier Bill Koch were the most inspirational. What he may have lacked in skill and training, he more than made up for in courage. What he may have missed in gold medals and fanfare, he has won in the admiration of sportsmen everywhere. His was truly an Olympian effort by an Olympian in the classic mold.
Being a young architecture student, I was fascinated by your report on the rising costs and labor and construction problems that have been delaying preparations for the Summer Olympics (Olympic Nightmare for Montreal, Feb. 9). I hope the whole world will learn from this extravagance in Montreal. As we have seen this winter in Austria, there are adequate places just waiting to be used again. The time has come to stop building new Olympic sites.
THOMPSON S. WARD
You got a little carried away in your coverage of the Alpine skiing events on page 18 of your Feb. 23 issue (Images of Innsbruck, Downhill and Up). It was not the giant slalom that Italy's Piero Gros won. As you correctly reported in FOR THE RECORD in the same issue, Gros won the slalom and Hemmi Heini of Switzerland the giant slalom.
New York City
Frank Deford's write-up of the Golden State Warriors (Everybody Gets into the Act, Feb. 16) is an outstanding piece of work.
I have been a pro basketball fan for many years and was the treasurer of the Buffalo Braves, an up-and-coming NBA team, for a three-year period, and therefore I am familiar with the problems and promise of a pro team. Much credit is due Franklin Mieuli for having the wisdom to turn over the operation of the team to a fellow like Dick Vertlieb. But much more credit is due Mieuli for selecting a coach like Al Attles, who has molded his players into a "machine" that is fun and exciting to watch.
In the case of the Warriors, everyone gets his money's worth—Mieuli, Vertlieb, Attles, the players and, ah, yes, the public.
EDWARD J. SOJA
Frank Deford's article is a different insight into a professional franchise. It was a pleasant and necessary contrast to the story on the Chicago Bulls (Choice Seats at the Bull Ring, Feb. 2). The Warriors are a credit to sport, and it is nice to see that "good guys" don't always finish last.
HOW COULD WE?
Many thanks for the article concerning that incredible world-class athlete illustrated on page 26 of your Feb. 9 issue (Sitting Pretty Is Her Style). After a dog, what next! Raising tropical fish?
ROBERT A. WOOD
North Plainfield, N.J.
SUCCESSOR'S LACK OF SUCCESS
Please tell author Gerald Strine (The Pleasure Is All Florida's, Feb. 16) that Grey Flight's finest daughter, champion race mare and champion broodmare Misty Morn, was the dam of champions Bold Lad and Successor, not "Bold Lad and Vitriolic," as his story said.
I knew Successor before he died, as I had syndicated him to stand at stud in California at a cost of $1,050,000, the highest price ever paid for a stallion to stand in the West. The horse encountered many problems in California and died after two years in the stud. And he proved himself to be a dismal sire, as did his full brother Bold Lad, also a 2-year-old champion.
The Phipps family did indeed sell a lot of their marvelous racing sons of Bold Ruler, but they could not have kept them all. Some had to turn out well. Tim Sams certainly got a winner in What a Pleasure. I am sorry that the group in California got such a lemon. So it goes.
VICTOR HEERMAN JR.
KNIGHTS AND PAWNS
In the article Making All the Right Moves (Jan. 12) Grandmaster Walter Browne says of Bobby Fischer's refusal to defend his championship because FIDE would not agree to all his requests: "If Bobby had insisted on 80 of his 100 demands, he'd be all right. If he'd insisted on 90, he'd be unreasonable. But the fact that he insisted on all 100 makes him kind of crazy."
In my opinion, FIDE, the world chess organization, has gone one step further by allowing political intrigues and feuds to deny the sport its greatest event: a Fischer-Anatoly Karpov match. Fischer's "demands" are well within the tradition of match conditions favoring the titleholder in a world championship. How many fighters have refused to meet Muhammad Ali just because, win or lose, the champion of the world was guaranteed the lion's share of the purse? Fischer demanded match conditions that only slightly favored him. His challenger was offered, if he won, the opportunity of going home with more than $3 million and guaranteed nearly $2 million of the $5 million put up by Manila if he lost! If they tied, Fischer proposed that they split the prize money evenly, but with Fischer retaining the title.
It was Fischer's talent, personality and attractiveness to the public that prompted the Philippines to offer the enormous purse. I have yet to meet any grandmaster crazy enough to refuse, if offered, a match with Bobby Fischer—and this includes Soviet and Eastern bloc grandmasters with whom I have had private conversations.
Your article also states, "In Russia chess heroes are involved in teaching," and you quote Ed Edmondson, executive director of the U.S. Chess Federation, as saying, "Our grandmasters are not disposed to help a promising young player because they feel he'll steal the bread out of their mouths."
The Russians are compensated for their time and effort. Are our grandmasters formally to train our "young players" without compensation for their time and effort? I, for one, have received no offers! Incidentally, there isn't an American grandmaster who hasn't given much of his time and energy to encouraging young players, whether they are talented or not. A grandmaster loves chess too much not to want to teach it to others.
The words uttered about half a century ago by world champion Emanuel Lasker ring in every chess master's ears: "In what period do we live? There are creative masters but the organization of the chess world does not produce competition between them. The master is discouraged by the prevailing system. 'There is something rotten in the state of Denmark.' "
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