TOED YOU SO
I guess Pittsburgh Coach Chuck Noll, Philadelphia Coach Dick Vermeil and New Orleans Coach Dick Nolan have more faith in their rookie kickers than SI's Joe Marshall has (Trying To Get Their Feet in the Door, Aug. 27). Pittsburgh gave the ax to Roy Gerela despite his two 48-yarders, Philadelphia cut veteran Nick Mike-Mayer and New Orleans is going to stick with Russell Erxleben for punting and placekicking. To clear up Marshall's question about which town Matt Bahr will see Tony Dungy in, it will be San Francisco. Dungy was dealt by the Steelers to the 49ers for a future draft choice!
Once again Frank Deford has written an accurate and to-the-point review of one of Hollywood's sports movies, North Dallas Forty (MOVIES, Aug. 27). However, I was surprised that a writer as sharp as Deford was baffled that there is "never any explanation of what the 'forty' refers to" in the title of the movie. North Dallas was the location of the Cowboys' practice facilities, and 40 was the number of players on an NFL roster when Peter Gent wrote the book.
I have just reread for the fourth time your review of North Dallas Forty. It is by far the worst review of a good movie I've ever read. Also, the title, as most people figured out quite easily, refers to a cattle ranch: as in "Go round up the strays in the north forty."
Little Rock, Ark.
North forty means the north 40 acres, as any farm boy knows.
September 9, 1979
•Reader Goldsmith has it right; there were 40 players and they practiced in North Dallas. Author Gent adds that he also intended a modest double entendre on the old joke: "My daddy's got a little farm in Texas. Forty acres. Downtown Dallas."—ED.
In his article An Ongoing Fungoer (Aug. 27) Bill Colson states that although the roof of the Astrodome "remains a favorite target of fun-loving fungoers, it has never been hit during a game." Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe Mike Schmidt of the Phillies did hit it a few years back with a ball that was described as the longest single ever.
Mount Holly, N.J.
•Schmidt only came close, hitting a public-address loudspeaker suspended from the roof.—ED.
The story of Rick DeMont (The Golden Moment, Aug. 20) is incredible and appalling. After reading it, why would any young athlete with such an ailment want to risk a similar fate at the hands of U.S. Olympic Team physicians? SI's fresh look at this sad tale reveals that at least two facts remain unchanged. First, DeMont never concealed his use of Marax—in fact, his listing of the medication as required was virtually ignored by the medical authorities. Second, by their claims of innocence through ignorance, the physicians involved seemed to show a lack of concern about DeMont's illness and about the fact that the stress of such athletic competition might even exacerbate his asthma.
Let's hope DeMont makes the 1980 Olympic Team and try to forget this sad incident, which is an embarrassment to our country and to our Olympic Team.
RICHARD A. GOODMAN, M.D.
The implication in Jerry Kirshenbaum's article is that Dr. Dan Hanley acted improperly, or at least incorrectly, in his handling of the Rick DeMont matter. The truth is that Dan Hanley is a good man who has dedicated his career and his life to helping young people. The only thing he ever asked of those whom he helped was that they be honest with him as well as with themselves. Perhaps this is really where DeMont stumbled.
There are hundreds of men and women, myself included, who owe Dr. Hanley an immeasurable debt. As the college physician at Bowdoin, his wise counsel, his encouragement and his willingness to involve himself in our lives sustained many of us during our college careers. And his insistence on excellence and moral and intellectual honesty provided us with the foundation upon which we could build successful lives.
GERARD O. HAVILAND
I am a 15-year-old above-average swimmer who has a problem with asthma on occasion, and I often take the drug Marax to make breathing easier. I have found that when I take this drug before a meet, it does not give me extra strength. To the contrary, it sometimes makes me tired. The injustice done to Rick DeMont is unforgivable.
Although I'm not a sports fan, I am a regular reader of SI. That is, I regularly read the contents page, looking for stories by Bil Gilbert. He can take the most mundane of subjects—such as worms (They Crawl by Night, Aug. 27)—and produce an article that enlightens and entertains. I may still mutter "yecch" every time I come across an earthworm in my garden, but I will say it in a more respectful tone. Through Gilbert's writing, I have traveled to places I'll never visit, have stood in awe of vistas I'll never see and have become friends with people I'll never meet. Few contemporary writers have held my interest—or earned my respect—as has Gilbert.
As you aptly pointed out in your wonderful Silver Anniversary Issue (LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER, Aug. 13), "Obviously the public wanted a...literate sports weekly." You're right. SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is the epitome of a quality sports publication.
You might imagine, then, the consternation of your discerning readers when the Aug. 27 issue arrived with a number of the stories printed on uncoated, pulp-magazine-type stock. A quality publication should have a quality look. Or at least there should have been an explanation for the change.
DAVID S. KAGAN
•The change is only temporary. In May, a plant belonging to one of the primary manufacturers of the coated stock SI uses was closed by a strike, and a serious paper shortage was feared. To ensure having enough paper to continue publishing in the event of a prolonged shutdown (the strike lasted six weeks), we purchased a supply of supercalendered, uncoated stock from producers outside the U.S. It is that paper that is appearing in certain sections of the magazine.—ED.
Address editorial mail to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, New York, 10020.