THE MOSCOW GAMES
If the Soviet Union refuses to withdraw all combat troops from Afghanistan, I believe that sports fans and the national public should stand united and demand another location for the Olympic Games—or, if that's impossible, boycott those Games altogether (SCORECARD, Jan. 14 et seq.).
It seems that every four years when it's time for the Olympics, there's an issue threatening the participation of some countries or an impending crisis because the construction of the facilities has lagged behind schedule. The waste of millions of dollars spent on rotating the site of the Games is foolish and unnecessary. I agree that the Games should be moved permanently to one country. I also agree that that country should be Greece. If this were the case today, the only issue would be the question of whether or not to allow the Soviet Union to participate.
White Sands Missile Range, N. Mex.
The International Olympic Committee has a golden opportunity to strike a blow for world peace and international goodwill—goals that are completely compatible with the Olympic movement. The IOC must go on with the 1980 Games, but at a site or sites other than Moscow, thereby demonstrating that if open military aggression cannot always be stopped or controlled, there are ways in which world organizations can show that they do not condone such actions. Admittedly, it is unrealistic at this late date to move the entire Summer Games to a single city. Therefore, the events must be grouped and held in different cities of the world. For example, basketball, volleyball, wrestling and boxing could go to one city, swimming, water polo, rowing and gymnastics to another.
Such an arrangement may not be ideal, but it can be achieved, and it is preferable to holding the Games in Moscow as if everything were normal. It is also preferable to having some nations boycott or withdraw from this year's Olympics, thus penalizing athletes who have worked years for the opportunity to compete. Decentralization of the Games was discussed following the violence at Munich in 1972, and it offers two advantages: 1) it greatly reduces the cost to any one city and nation; and 2) it reduces the chances for political demonstrations or terrorism, because the eyes of the world are not focused entirely on one place. Now is the time to try it.
JOHN M. TRUMP
February 4, 1980
What a mockery it would be to have the world's athletic heroes perform in a country that does not know the meaning of the word hero—or the meaning of amateur sportsmanship. I am probably just one of many of your readers who want to stand up and be counted when they say boycott Moscow!
Your editorial dissertation, Moscow '80: An Olympics Under Siege (Jan. 21), was a brilliant summary of this most trying situation. But there was one salient point not mentioned. For more than a decade our armed forces were being sent 7,000 miles to fight in Southeast Asia. During that period, the 1964 and 1968 Olympic Games were held, and the Soviets did not protest U.S. participation in them. So why all the shouting for a U.S. boycott of the Games in the U.S.S.R. now? We have very strong teams in most sports, and financial support has never been stronger. I, for one, want our young people to be given the opportunity to lick the Soviets on their own soil and bring back the glory the U.S. justly deserves.
I was appalled by the suggestion that the Olympics be held in Munich rather than Moscow. The atmosphere in Munich would be even worse. The memory of the 11 Israelis who were so brutally killed and of the tragic handling of that situation should preclude the possibility of another Munich Olympics.
Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.
The very suggestion that we should boycott the Moscow Games is proof that the Olympics are being used for anything and everything but the ideas and ideals of amateur athletics. Instead, the Olympics have become an international political forum. This is anathema to any true athlete. In my opinion, the Olympics have already been "reduced to a shambles."
Let's get out, and get out for good! We have the most dedicated athletes in the world. Let's conduct our own Olympics and stop deceiving ourselves chasing the rest of the world in a fixed political race.
New Rochelle, N.Y.
It would be nice if the members of our Olympic teams acted as Americans first and athletes second. I'll believe the Olympics are non-political when they stop playing national anthems for the winners.
CRAIG M. SCHWARTZ
Even though the final score of the Super Bowl game, 31-19, is suggestive of the romp Joe Marshall predicted (A Game of Resistible Forces, Jan. 14), it was obvious to anyone who witnessed the contest that the Rams could just as easily have won that game. I've waited for the Rams to get into the Super Bowl for 10 years, and this year, despite all the adversity—injuries, front-office troubles, hostile fans—they came through.
My guess is that Marshall's article was posted in the Ram locker room. The Rams proved Marshall wrong as they showed talent and, above all, courage in going as far as they did.
La Verne, Calif.
The Steelers may have won the Super Bowl, but the Rams proved to most people, including Joe Marshall and Paul Zimmerman (Super? This Time Call It the Crunch Bowl, Jan. 21), that they don't give up.
WALTER F. TATUM III
MacDill AFB, Fla.
Congratulations to Paul Zimmerman and Sandy Huffaker on their great collaboration in your Super Bowl preview. The combination of Zimmerman's writing and Huffaker's imaginative caricatures made it a super article.
The illustration by Sandy Huffaker depicting the Slob Sweep by the Los Angeles Rams is the funniest cartoon I have ever seen in any magazine.
ALAN B. MARKS
ALABAMA & CO.
Alabama finally wins the undisputed national championship in football, and what do I see? The Rose Bowl plastered all over your pages with only a small portion of the article devoted to the country's No. 1 team (A Beautiful Rose, Even for 'Bama, Jan. 14). Come on, SI. Don't you think it's about time 'Bama got the credit it so richly deserves? Let's hear it for Bear Bryant and his Crimson Tide!
Although I am not a Bear Bryant fan, I must admit the Alabama coach is smart. When asked if he would like to play the Rose Bowl winner for the national championship, he replied, "Hell, no!" No doubt he realized that the outcome would have been similar to the last time USC and Alabama played—USC won 24-14—and the Tide would have lost the national title. Douglas S. Looney summed it up best in his account of the Rose Bowl: USC and Ohio State are "the nation's two best teams."
The article on the Rose Bowl was a fine integration of the facts, figures and emotions that typify a college football game. The inserts about the coaches in the press-box booth added an interesting dimension and gave me an even better appreciation of what my husband, Pete Carroll, former Ohio State defensive backfield coach and now defensive coordinator at North Carolina State, goes through on game day. Thanks.
THE GREAT GORDIE
Thanks to' E. M. Swift for topping off a memorable week for the city of Detroit. The week began with the announcement that former Detroit Tiger star Al Kaline would be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Next came a brief return visit by the Magic Man, Earvin Johnson, as the Lakers played the Pistons in the Silverdome. One night later Gordie Howe returned as the Whalers and Red Wings battled in a building named in honor of another Detroit hero, the Joe Louis Sports Arena. The week could not have ended in a better way than to have "Mr. Hockey" featured and portrayed on the cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (He Just Skates On and On and On, Jan. 21). Whether Howe plays for Hartford or Houston or Timbuktu, he will always be Detroit hockey fans' favorite son—or should I say favorite grandfather? Gordie should be SI's Sportsman of the Century.
I figure Gordie Howe has only 18 seasons left in professional hockey. The mandatory retirement age in the U.S. is 70.
That Gordie Howe can play so well against kids 30 years younger than he is a tribute to his athletic ability. But to call him the greatest hockey player of all time is nonsense. That title goes to the athlete of the decade, Bobby Orr.
THOMAS P. LYNCH
Howe to survive? Through brutality, expansion and intimidation.
DAVID J. O'HARE
It was with great interest that I read Herman Weiskopf's article about Notre Dame Fencing Coach Michael DeCicco (A Man Who's Rarely Foiled, Jan. 7). When I arrived at Notre Dame in the fall of 1965, a scared 17-year-old from a school whose graduating class totaled 69, I was awestruck by the tradition and intimidated by other members of the freshman class. It seemed everyone was a valedictorian or an All-America. Curiosity, as well as a desire to compete in a varsity sport, led me to the freshman fencing organizational meeting. There were no cuts. DeCicco didn't believe in them. If you wanted to compete and were willing to put in the hours, you became a team member.
It was a comforting feeling at that first encounter to look around the room and realize that we were all starting from scratch. Coach DeCicco would teach us and then we would help teach each other. No scholarships, no headlines, just real friendships. The 54-2 record we compiled seemed to come as a natural result of this philosophy.
ROBERT A. BABINEAU JR., M.D.
I think an NCAA investigative team should check out Mike DeCicco. Isn't there a rule against winning and having a good time in the process?
Re Patrick J. McBride's letter (19TH HOLE, Dec. 24-31) in response to your article on the University of New Mexico basketball scandal, wherein he suggests that the NCAA could prevent abuses of collegiate athletic standards by "making the university president directly responsible" and subject to firing if standards are violated: the NCAA is an athletic association! It does not, thank heaven, govern a university, which, the last time I checked, was a great deal more than a bevy of athletic teams. Could the athletic committee of the Atlantic Coast Conference fire the president of Duke University? Could the national office of Phi Beta Kappa fire the president of Davidson College?
I also happen to think college and university presidents are ultimately responsible for athletic abuses, but not because the NCAA can decree it so. Shame on McBride for such a tail-wagging-dog assumption. And shame on SI for printing his letter without commenting on such misguided thinking.
JOHN B. ROGERS JR.
As sports fans and former educators, we are deeply concerned about the grave injustice being done to our student-athletes. We feel that our colleges and universities and the NCAA should recognize that not every gifted athlete is academically inclined or able, as is evidenced by recent exposures of academic ineligibility and falsifying of records. The real victims are those "student-athletes" who never should have been placed in a regular college program in the first place.
We propose that the powers that be consider an alternate plan for collegiate athletics: that is, continue having regular academic courses leading to a degree for those athletes who are capable, and at the same time establish a non-degree program in life skills—improved reading and math and a skilled trade—for those athletes who are now making a sham of the term "student." This should alleviate the pressure on coaches and athletes and benefit everyone.
NANCY AND REESE WOODLING
I would like to congratulate you on Bertram Gabriel's fine article Running to Nowhere (Nov. 26), in which he gave a factual picture of the problems reservation Indian youths face in their running careers. I was disappointed, however, that he did not point out some of the programs that have been established to combat this problem. A case in point is the Department of Recreation at the Pueblo of Zuni, of which I am a former director. This department has in the past sent athletes, through the AAU, not only to cross-country but also track and field meets throughout the country. This was done in the hopes that exposure to the outside world would help these athletes cope with the realities of leaving the reservation after graduation from high school. It was our hope that by competing against some of the better athletes in the U.S., and often coming out the winner in these races, Indian youths would build the self-confidence they need.
Unfortunately, we lacked the needed support from the current Tribal Council. As a consequence, all of our funds were removed and our program was curtailed. The reasoning of the Tribal Council was that athletics is not a priority of the tribe and thus the money could be better used someplace else.
I sincerely hope that articles like yours will help to change the minds of these Tribal officials who so handicap their people.
R. MICHAEL KAKUSKA
Zuni Track Club
Zuni, N. Mex.
Address editorial mail to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, New York, 10020.