NO POLITICS (CONT.)
I thoroughly disagree with reader Thomas F. Lester (July 26), who stated that Olympic athletes should compete in "neutral" uniforms and that national anthems of winning countries should not be played. Let's get politics out of sport, but not nationalism. As an American, I am intensely interested in what the representatives of my country do in the Olympics, and I am intensely proud when our national anthem is played after a young American athlete has proven himself best in his particular field. I can understand how citizens of other countries feel when one of their athletes has excelled.
Just how can members of a team sport, such as basketball, compete as "neutrals"? If, for instance, Cuba defeats Brazil in basketball, do you then say, "Neutral Team E defeated Neutral Team J"? I doubt if the citizens of either country, particularly the winning one, will buy that.
No, Mr. Lester, it isn't nationalism that needs to be removed from the Olympics. Granted, it is now fashionable to knock patriotism, but I feel that national pride is an integral part of Olympic competition. It is only when politicians use their country's athletes for political reasons that the purpose of the Games is lost.
Santa Monica, Calif.
My thanks to Frank Deford for the last sentence in his article Dark Genius of Dissent (July 26): "In Montreal there was the very real concern that sport and its youthful athletic pawns were being damaged a great deal more [by the African withdrawals] than South Africa."
The African Olympic boycott does not do justice to a group of New Zealanders who, for no other motive than the competition and comradeship of the sport, traveled to South Africa to play rugby. It is a crime that a game in which men will travel 1,000 miles to beat the hell out of each other, then shake hands and drink together should be used as the reason for political action between countries. It is a greater crime that Filbert Bayi and other great athletes must pay the price.
I have in my home a transistor radio, a hand calculator, several work shirts, sandals, etc., all bearing the label "Made in Taiwan." Nowhere on the items is there any mention of "The Republic of China."
But it seems that when Taiwan's athletes show up at the Olympic Games, these persons are stamped "Republic of China," not "Taiwan." I, for one, would like to have someone explain the reason for this inconsistency.
CHARLES D. McGUINNESS
NO LONGER OBSCURE
While I was marveling along with the rest of the world at gymnastics' newest sensation, Nadia Comaneci, I recalled a SCORECARD item from your Jan. 12 issue. In it you told of two people who had been named male and female athletes of the world for 1975, although they were so obscure you challenged readers to guess their respective sports and accomplishments. One of them was Comaneci, whose name has now become a household word. Who knows what new star will emerge at Moscow? Perhaps that other world-class athlete cited in your SCORECARD—what was his name again?
North Palm Beach, Fla.
•Jo√£o de Oliveira. The world-record holder in the triple jump, he could manage only a bronze medal in Montreal and tied for fourth in the long jump.—ED.
OTTERS AND ABALONES
Thanks to Bil Gilbert for an extremely fair and illuminating wildlife article (Dept. of Otter Confusion, July 26) and to SI for continuing its high-quality, high-interest conservation reporting. Gilbert's steadfast refusal to take sides was refreshing and realistic to a reader accustomed to the subjective harangues of Audubon magazine and the like. Both kinds of reporting are necessary; yet, given the diversified readership you can offer on an ecological issue, perhaps yours is the more effective—for the otter.
New York City
Here we have two factions raging mightily at each other over who should be allowed the pleasure of killing shellfish—sport and commercial fishermen or sea otters—while the real victims of this continuing slaughter seem to be getting no relief. Where, oh, where are the friends of the abalone?
PITCHES FOR PALMER—AND DEFORD
The quality of Frank Deford's article about Jim Palmer (In a Strike Zone of His Own, July 26) matches the quality of the man. Palmer is a throwback to a breed of individualistic athletes that will become extinct with his departure from baseball. He is in the same class as the DiMaggios, Babe Ruth and Dizzy Dean. So let the Messersmiths, Catfishes and all the other prima donnas with their fat salaries take a hard look. Palmer is a superstar, something they can only pretend to be.
NICHOLAS C. FIORE
The story on Jim Palmer was another example of why SI is in a "zone of its own." If Frank Deford ever became unhappy with his salary and "wrote out his option," I'm sure he'd be the Catfish Hunter of journalism.
And if the time ever comes when Palmer is not getting what he is worth from the Oriole management, the people of Baltimore would be wise to pick up the tab.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
In the article on Joan Joyce (She's Still Wonder Woman, July 26) Joe Jares stated that Royal Beaird, manager of the Southern California Gems of the Women's Professional Softball Association, had been fired by me. This is incorrect. Beaird removed himself and his daughters Rosie Black, Eileen Francabandera and Karen Beaird from the team. The action came after I exercised my prerogative as an owner in making some organizational changes in the front office.
I also want to make it clear that I think Rosie Black is one of the top Softball pitchers in the world and a super human being. I am sorry she and her sisters decided to leave the Gems.
DENNIS A. MURPHY
International Women's Professional
DANDY RANDY (CONT.)
Reading your article on Randy Jones (Uncommon Success for a Common Man, July 12) and observing him mow down the American League in the All-Star Game sent me to the attic looking through my back issues of SI for Ted Williams' article on hitting (The Science of Hitting, July 8, 1968).
By his own admission, Ted Williams, the greatest swinger of a bat in baseball, would have hit only .250 against Jones who generally pitches to the kneecap strike zone. We hear the experts write and talk about Jones winning 30. How about 35 or 36?
If we apply Williams' theory to all National League hitters that Jones faces, they will average hitting about .190, with nearly all of the hits comprising that lowly average being singles. How do you beat him? With much difficulty and very seldom.
Jones may be the first of a new breed that could well dominate the game for years to come by the use of finesse and control with the basic aim of keeping the ball low at all times.
Williams, discussing the difficulty of hitting, in his 1968 article, may have said it all when he wrote "Then there are the damn pitching coaches who stand at the batting cage and yell at the pitchers to 'Keep it low, keep it low.' "
In his article on the U.S. Women's Open (A Mountain of Trouble, July 19), Barry McDermott failed to recognize that a major championship is supposed to be an extremely difficult test of golf. The Rolling Green Golf Club was in no way tricked up for the Open; it is simply an outstanding golf course.
In fact, several of the women veterans on the tour have quietly expressed a desire to play more courses of the caliber of Rolling Green. As young Amy Alcott said, pointing to her head, "You have to have it between these six inches." It took a lot more than a long ball.
JANE P. LEIMBACH
Kenny Moore's message of hope to all believers in the Olympic ideal (Flame in the Wind, July 19) simply proves once again what his loyal readers have always known: that his skill and dedication as an athlete are equaled by his sensitivity and insight as an author. His articles for SI give us a glimpse into the mind of a courageous and compassionate man. Now, when the human worth of sports is so often obscured by big business and big politics, both fans and athletes need reassurance more than ever before. Thank you, Mr. Moore, for championing the true Olympic values with eloquence and conviction.
DAVID J. ZIMNY
LIANE M. ZlMNY
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