NADIA AND COMPANY
Thank you for the coverage of the Olympics in your Aug. 2 issue. I had just returned from Montreal and was glad to find that one American magazine had maintained the Olympic spirit and mentioned all of the participants who deserved it. Nelli Kim's two perfect scores and Nikolai Andrianov's performances were as thrilling as Nadia Comaneci's. I was also glad that Frank Deford recognized the Korbut vs. Comaneci battle being waged by television and the press. But mostly I liked your positive view. That, coupled with a realistic look at the athletes—Nadia is a 14-year-old girl, Naber is a ham and Ender is a girl—gave your readers what I feel to be an honest picture of the Olympics.
With worldwide attention being focused on Nadia Comaneci and millions of words in many languages being lavished on her and the other female gymnasts, Frank Deford's article Nadia Awed Ya (Aug. 2) is the ultimate summation of one of sport's most memorable weeks. If ever anyone deserved a 10.0, Deford does.
ROBERT M. HALL III
You put into words what we in our home felt while watching the TV cameras "inspect" Olga Korbut. It appeared to be no longer a competition involving physical abilities but rather a study of the emotions of a great competitor who had disappointed everyone, it would seem, by growing up. TV and the press did her an injustice, but her appreciative audience at home and in the Forum, recalling her better moments, gave her the ovation and recognition that an athlete of her stature so richly deserves.
HARRIET G. RESNICOFF
Why is there now so much interest in gymnastics? Because of Olga Korbut. While Nadia Comaneci may be a perfect gymnast technically, she lacks the glow, the exuberance that Olga adds to the art. And gymnastics is an art. I would not want to look at many paintings that were technically perfect but lacked expression.
Virginia Beach, Va.
August 15, 1976
We all feel sorry for Olga Korbut, but Frank Deford was terribly melodramatic in his portrayal of Olga as the "fallen hero."
Thanks for giving Ludmila Turishcheva the credit that has long been due her. Those of us in gymnastics have always known that she was No. 1, "the true champion of Munich, always overshadowed and underappreciated, ever gracious...majestic." Very few people realize how difficult (almost impossible) it is to remain the best in the gymnastics world for years, as Turishcheva has.
Granted, Korbut and Comaneci are world-class gymnasts and now Comaneci is No. 1, but don't look for her to score 10.0s or collect gold in 1980. It takes a rare person to reach the pinnacle that Turishcheva has. I think it will be a long time before we see the likes of her again.
CAROLE J. CORSON
Nice recovery, SI! After failing to put Dorothy Hamill's picture on your cover during the Winter Games, you more than made up for it with your Aug. 2 cover of Nadia.
You sure disappointed me. I expected all those other (nonsports) magazines to put that little girl on the cover, and ABC to splash her all over prime time when they'd hit a big female audience—but you! Those old Greeks must be revolving in their graves. Turning handsprings an Olympic sport? Phooey!
New York City
I want to thank Frank Deford for another perceptive article on the Olympics (High, Wide and Handsome, Aug. 2). He reminded me of what a limited view one actually gets from one network's coverage of the Games. The sensational atmosphere and drama that ABC creates give a narrow view of the Olympics and often an unfair representation of the athletes. The network personalizes the contests to a mawkish extreme and creates grudge matches to spice them up. What is more, it seems to cover only the glamour events—and the glamour athletes in those events. It's getting so that one must be a great actor as well as an outstanding athlete to appear on television. Next they will award Emmys for Olympic performances.
I feel Frank Deford took some cheap shots when he called ABC's coverage of sports' most prestigious and exciting spectacle "Arledge's Follies." I think Roone Arledge did a fine job in selecting what was to be televised from the Games, both this past winter and in Montreal. The American public should thank him.
Deford writes of ABC already having a lock on the 1980 Winter Games. Bravo! Your coverage of the Olympics was superb, as I expected. But don't feel your magazine has to waste precious inches criticizing the broadcasting medium. Nobody's perfect.
Frank Deford makes some significant points in his criticism of Olympic television coverage. I recognize ABC as the leader in TV sports coverage, but I think the Olympics are too big, too spectacular and too infrequent to be handed over to one network. The amount of advertising throughout the telecasts was disenchanting, and the focus of the actual coverage was controversial. Events such as football (soccer), water polo and sailing went uncovered, while others were given only token footage. The bidding for TV coverage should be for each auditorium, natatorium and playing field. That way Roone Arledge may find that his accomplishments will peak in 1980 when a young gymnast on ABC faces healthy competition from a yachtsman on CBS.
THOMAS J. BURDICK
BEYOND PRETTY FACES
Frank Deford should have asked the opinions of some women Olympic fans rather than make generalizations implying their sports knowledge and viewing preferences are superficial. Granted, Bruce Jenner and Dorothy Hamill are charismatic and photogenic. But just to set the record straight, many women are fans of Sugar Ray Leonard, Howard Davis, Michael Spinks and the rest of the great U.S. boxing team. Many women also enthusiastically recognized the intelligence of Kornelia Ender's technique, her exuberant physical power and her spirited attitude. As for Shirley Babashoff's blasts against the East Germans' training techniques, 1) any team that practices to music is not run according to concentration-camp psychology, and 2) as can be seen from Pat Jordan's excellent article (A Thoroughly Uplifting Experience, Aug. 2), "undifferentiated training," i.e., weight lifting, does not result in "undifferentiated sexes."
I trust Deford now realizes that there are American women with a sophisticated knowledge of sports, and an interest that goes beyond the appreciation of pretty faces.
LISA W. WOODY
DIVERS IN FLIGHT
The pictorial comparison of Jenni Chandler and Phil Boggs on page 22 of your Aug. 2 issue was proof of the strength and beauty that diving demands. The two photographs were even more impressive when viewed upside down. The divers reminded me of graceful birds in flight.
BRUCE J. BERNSTEIN
SMALL BORE BUT NOT BORING
Kenny Moore's article on the small-bore three-position Olympic rifle event (Enough To Take His Breath Away, Aug. 2) was most enjoyable. We never see the sport on TV, but the competition between Lanny Bassham and Margaret Murdock was as close and exciting as that in any of the other Olympic events. To me this uncommercialized sport, where men and women compete equally, is what the Olympics should be all about.
University Heights, Ohio
PREDICTIONS COME TRUE
With so many events and competitors in this year's Olympics, it would have been impossible to intelligently follow the Games were it not for Anita Verschoth's article Who's Going to Win, Place and Show...Maybe, July 19). Her predictions were astoundingly accurate.
After excluding the medals that she had forecast for African athletes, I counted 605 medal possibilities. In 329 cases Verschoth picked the athletes who won some kind of medal in their event. Of that number, she pegged the exact medal 151 times. This means that one out of every four of her predictions was exactly correct. Not bad results for any handicapper.
Verschoth's most astute prognosticating came in the men's rowing events, where she accounted for 18 of the 24 medals awarded. Her worst events were shooting and cycling, in which only about one-third of the medalists were forecast. She did not accurately predict any medals in 11 events; on the other hand, she correctly predicted the exact order of finish in 10 events.
Why doesn't SI do everyone a favor and let Verschoth pick the Kentucky Derby winner next year?
We noticed that the sites for the last three Summer Olympics and the site for the next all start with the letter "M": Mexico City, Munich, Montreal and Moscow. Does this mean that the 1984 Summer Games will be held in Miami or Madrid?
An odds-on favorite to host the 1984 Summer Olympics would have to be the city of Manila. But then again, by 1984 another "M" site may be in the running: Mars.
North Palm Beach, Fla.
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