GIVING BOXING A JOLT
I'm glad you're finally telling your readers what two-bit, money-grubbing, unprofessional clowns the WBC and WBA really are (Special Report: Time to Clean Up Boxing Again, March 16 et seq.). But showing how these organizations work isn't automatically going to improve boxing. That won't happen until a completely new system of administering boxing replaces the current one. It should require boxers to systematically fight their way to the top and, when they reach the pinnacle, to box the fighters directly behind them. Then we would no longer have to witness mismatches in championship bouts, and deserving fighters would no longer have to watch from the ringside seats, à la Thomas Hearns.
If other pro sports operated the way boxing does, the Phillies, for example, might sit out the 1981 baseball season until the World Series rolls around and then, after, say, the Yankees or Royals win the right to contend for the championship, decide to play the Detroit Tigers instead.
The old boxing saying "Kill the body and the head will die" doesn't hold true in this case. It seems the "head" is dead already.
VINCENT J. CALGER
Time to clean up boxing again? When, pray tell, was it cleaned up before? Not in my lifetime, and I'm 73.
Pat Putnam's story on the WBC and WBA was dyn-o-mite. Keep up the fight, and maybe we'll have a sport that's truly boxing.
FRANK E. VISCO SR.
TALKING IT UP
Your piece on baseball chatter (Chatter, March 16) fascinated me. Times have changed on the sandlots, too. A couple of seasons ago, during one of the pickup softball games I played in on Sunday mornings, one of the fielders yelled, "Let's hear some chatter from the infield!"
"Great," someone else replied. "Pick a topic."
Co-host, PM Magazine/Chicago
Chatter is why I am now able to speak before large groups. Where else could a 9-year-old get training in talking to crowds of friends and foes but near second base, standing with hands on knees? Thanks for the memories. They made turning 30 last week a lot easier.
JOHN B. FRITSCHNER
Director of Recreation and Parks
Wrong! "Hum Babe" does not mean to hum the fastball. Rather, it's merely today's version of a classic expression that is going through an evolutionary cycle—"Hum Babe" from "Horn Babe" from "Haum Babe" from "Maun Babe" from "C'maum Babe" from "C'mom Babe" from "C'mon Babe" from "Come on, Baby."
Thus, "Come on, Baby" has evolved into "Hum Babe," and probably it will eventually work out to "Hoo Bay."
"Hum Babe" is a contraction of the words "Come on, Babe," and it eventually gets to just "Babe."
The chatter for telling the pitcher to throw the baseball fast is "Fire it by him, Babe," which becomes "Fah Babe."
Your SCORECARD discussion of "Faces that emerge from the crowd" (March 16) simply doesn't ring true. There's a difference between a child's accomplishments in competition against his peers and his accomplishments when competing against some absolute standard. Nancy Lopez mastering a golf course at the age of 12, or an 11-year-old bowling a perfect game, or a 14-year-old getting a remarkable time in distance running or swimming is noteworthy. True, even those achievements may be the result of some unnecessary adult pressure, but they are achievements nonetheless. Twelve-goal games and 83-goal seasons, on the other hand, are at least to some extent a measure of the quality of the competition against which the records were achieved.
I'm happy to read that 6-year-old soccer player Matt Garrett is learning sportsmanship along with his goal-scoring, but that doesn't justify his appearance in FACES IN THE CROWD. If you want to protect the egos of the young winners who appear in FACES and the young losers who put them there, don't publicize them at all. If the winners are as good as they seem, their time for public recognition will come.
MARK F. KORBER
West Hartford, Conn.
DEATH OF AN ATHLETE (CONT.)
Speaking from the perspective of disabled persons, we were deeply touched by the tragic story of Kenny Wright (Kenny, Dying Young, March 9). We are student-athletes attending Southwest State University in Marshall, Minn. and members of the school's wheelchair basketball team. The majority of us, upon deciding to further our education at the college level, were relatively unaware of athletic programs available to disabled individuals. But now at SSU we have been exposed to the opportunity to compete in sports such as basketball, softball, football, swimming, archery, track and field and others. On Feb. 27 we hosted the Fifth National Intercollegiate Wheelchair Basketball Tournament, and we can now proudly boast of being the 1981 national champions.
This letter should not be viewed as a cheap plug for SSU but as a very sincere plug for life. It saddens us to think of all the Kenny Wrights who have been misled into believing they can no longer function athletically and socially after they have become disabled. It also saddens us to see SPORTS ILLUSTRATED reinforce these absurd societal beliefs.
THE BRONCOS BASKETBALL TEAM
Southwest State University
Frank Deford used the gradual disposal of Kenny Wright's scuba-diving equipment to symbolize his final acknowledgment of life's pleasures lost. Ironically, people with the same injury level as Kenny are scuba diving today. One swimmer I know of, who is also a C-7 quadriplegic, brought himself out of devastating depression through competitive swimming. He needs no flotation devices and receives great satisfaction from the sweat and hard drive required for national competition. Those who have suffered from spinal-cord injuries don't need to sit back and worry about what they can't do. There are plenty of challenges for them.
Glen Ellyn, Ill.
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