SPORTSMAN NICKLAUS (CONT.)
Thank you for the splendid Christmas present—naming Jack Nicklaus Sportsman of the Year and giving us Frank Deford's brilliant article about him (Still Glittering After All These Years, Dec. 25-Jan. 1).
I have the good fortune to belong to Jack's Muirfield Village Golf Club, and every time I play there I feel the character of the man coming out of that extraordinary piece of land.
As his pastor, I see Jack Nicklaus not only as the great athlete he is but also as a devoted family man with an intense faith and an attitude of caring for others.
There may be those who had better "athletic" years than Jack but no one else better epitomizes the title Sportsman. You have made a wise selection, and the article by Frank Deford captured the essence of Jack.
THE REV. EARLE RABB
Trinity United Methodist Church
Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
You had a tough decision to make and you made a beauty. No other athlete this year has done more to promote American sports, goodwill and the competitive desire. Jack Nicklaus, the golf professional, golf-course architect, father and businessman, is most deserving of this prestigious award.
Your award is Sportsman of the Year, not Sportsman for a Career. For Jack Nicklaus' year to have paralleled Ron Guidry's, he would have had to win the Grand Slam, the Vardon Trophy for lowest stroke average, the World Series of Golf and have been the leading money-winner, which he wasn't in '78. You goofed!
I just don't understand it. Every year I have written a letter imploring you to name Jack Nicklaus Sportsman of the Year and you have picked someone else. This time I called for Nancy Lopez, and you picked Nicklaus.
SHARON L. RAYMOND
Chevy Chase, Md.
It's like giving Liz Taylor an Oscar years after she deserved it.
KEITH D. SMITH JR.
Originally, I had planned to write a strong letter expressing my discontent at your naming Jack Nicklaus Sportsman of the Year. Although Jack is the best golfer in the recorded history of the universe, I equate the athletic ability of golfers with that of race-car drivers, billiards players and bowlers.
Then I read Kenny Moore's article Taking Part: You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet (Dec. 25-Jan. 1), which shows that there's a place in sports for all kinds of people with all kinds of musculature. Somehow he makes it apppear as though Nicklaus is on an athletic par with marathoner Bill Rodgers. I suggest you keep Moore around.
You've blown our cover! Having long hidden in the shadow of L.A., San Diego is now in the national limelight (Sports Town, U.S.A.—It's San Diego, Dec. 25-Jan. 1). While everyone else in the nation has been working on an ulcer, we've been working on our backhands. Now we'll have to contend with a lot of tourists, who may well want to stay.
La Mesa, Calif.
IN DEFENSE OF PHEIDIPPIDES
I object to James F. Fixx' attempt to reason Pheidippides out of existence (On the Run in Search of a Greek Ghost, Dec. 25-Jan. 1). Pheidippides—or whoever ran to Athens—was doubtless a soldier, not a professional courier. The outnumbered Greeks could not afford the luxury of a spare man standing around waiting to run to Athens. Even Aeschylus, who Fixx assures us was a reporter that day, was there to fight. Any awards the Greeks bestowed on Aeschylus at Marathon were not for rhetoric.
So after this, the most crucial battle in the history of Western civilization, wouldn't it seem equally plausible that some foot soldier ran off to Athens to share the good news? And that, not having been privileged to read Fixx' book, he ran in armor? Fixx' argument against this is that someone in Rochester, N.Y. thought that would be silly. Well, attacking the powerful Persians on flat ground while greatly outnumbered smacks of silliness. People who worry overly about being silly seldom attain greatness. The Greeks were content with being great.
So, Pheidippides, who has fought hand to hand all day and participated in a great rout, runs to Athens, possibly in armor, and dies sharing the news—and Fixx, the cynic, denies his existence?
ANTHONY E. FOLEY, M.D.
Telling a runner there was no Pheidippides is like telling a child there is no Santa Claus.
Louis A. CINQUINO
Le Roy, N.Y.
THE NFL SEASON
The esteemed Dan Jenkins lays the ultimate blame for a blah season, after duly noting other causes, on parity scheduling (Something Less Than Super, Dec. 25-Jan. 1). Jenkins' thesis was that, while the big boys knocked one another about, some of the little guys fattened up their records at the expense of other little guys. He was outraged that the Eagles made the playoffs while the Raiders did not, but if he had bothered to check he would have found that, with the obvious exception that they didn't play themselves, the Eagles played exactly the same teams as the Super Bowl champion Cowboys. He scorned the fact that Seattle and New Orleans won more games than ever before but didn't note that Seattle had the same opponents as did Super Bowl contender Denver, and the Saints played the same teams as the mighty Rams. In fact, of the 16 games the Saints (the alltime champion little guys) played, nine of them were against teams that made the playoffs, including squirts such as Dallas, Pittsburgh, Houston, Minnesota and Los Angeles. That's parity?
Your photographer should be congratulated for the excellent action picture of NFL officials. It shows my crew doing its job just as the officiating manual dictates. At the two-minute warning we are required by rule to send one official to each coach and record the changes of captains for the last two minutes of the game. We then meet in the middle of the field to make sure all seven of us record the new captains. It's unfortunate that you labeled a positive photograph with a negative caption.
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