I was the basketball reporter for the Miami University newspaper when Tates Locke (The Descent of a Man, March 8) became head basketball coach. Tates was a stern taskmaster, but he was a decent and moral man. Once he dismissed a player for legitimate disciplinary reasons. Subsequently, that ex-player was in a severe automobile accident. Tates gave him and his family all the support he could. Because I personally know of Locke's inherent goodness, I see him as a victim—in the sense of a victim in a classical tragedy. This is the country that worships the man who said, "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing."
The hypocritical world of college athletics is merely a microcosm of our society, which pays lip service to rules and then expects triumph at any cost. Nothing excuses cheating or rule-breaking, but Locke is only the latest sacrifice on the American altar of victory.
New York City
In 1967-68 I was a graduate assistant in the physical education department at Miami University and had contact with Tates Locke on an almost daily basis. I was always greatly impressed with his integrity, honesty and dedication to his profession. Later, when I was a high school basketball coach, Tates was never too busy to discuss a particular bit of coaching strategy or to talk about a prospect I may have recommended. I know what the real Tates Locke once was to college basketball, and can be again. I only hope that some university will give him the chance.
Tates Locke shouldn't feel too bad if, as he suggests, fans are comparing him to Frank James, a member, with brother Jesse, of the famous outlaw duo. What is so often overlooked is that, like Tates, Frank James reformed. He became the betting commissioner, that is, the man entrusted to bet the owner's money, for the famous thoroughbred racing stable of Sam Hildreth.
Hildreth wrote in his autobiography, The Spell of the Turf, that Frank James was "scrupulously honest.... When Frank quit being a desperado he washed the slate clean. He was going straight as a string when I knew him and there were plenty of chances for him to cheat me."
Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
HERSCHEL'S BELT BUCKLE
I am shocked that SI would run a photograph of Herschel Walker on the cover (March 1) and fail to notice what looks like a marijuana leaf on his belt buckle. This isn't the type of example that one of America's sports heroes should be setting. Your editors are as much at fault as he is.
CADET BRIAN D. JONES
West Point, N.Y.
•Hold it! There's no marijuana leaf there, although a number of readers jumped to the same erroneous conclusion. If there's any fault here, it lies with the camera and the shadows cast by the photographer's lights. What appeared on the cover to be a leaf is really a striped bronze trefoil, the trademark of Adidas, which is mounted in the center of the German silver buckle and surrounded by "Western scrollwork." The name Adidas appears in raised bronze letters below it (see above). The buckle, which isn't an Adidas product or authorized by the company, was specially designed by a friend of Adidas as a gift for a small number of Adidas representatives, one of whom, a friend of Herschel Walker's, gave his to Walker. The buckle isn't available commercially.—ED.
I had just returned from my first trip to Oahu's North Shore when my "surfing issue" of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED arrived (Thunder from the Sea, March 8). I was stoked! You presented a very good human interest story, but there weren't enough surfing pictures. Next time give more coverage to surfing contests and, please, more pictures.
By the way, why did the cover read "The Banzai Pipeline" when the cover photo was apparently taken elsewhere? Maybe it was Backdoor Pipe, but it wasn't the wave described in the article. Please explain.
Carolina Beach, N.C.
•The picture was taken at the Pipeline. Most of the waves at the Pipeline come in from the north or northwest and break to the left, which is when surfing the Pipeline is at its best. But some swells come in from the northeast and break to the right, forming a more elliptical wave. Riding the latter, as the surfer is doing on SI's cover, is known as surfing "the Backdoor."—ED.
Sam Moses' article on the Banzai Pipeline had me feeling the rush of the tubes and the crush of the "guillotine." It was magnificent.
Thanks. I believe this is the first time a surfer has graced your cover since your July 18, 1966 issue, when you ran Bob Ottum's cover story on Phil Edwards.
What do I see buried on page 75? The biggest college basketball upset of the year! What's on the cover? A surfer hitting the waves! Is this SI or Beach Bum Digest?
No matter how appealing scenes of Hawaii are amid an eight-inch snowfall, there is still only one way to describe 12 pages, including the cover, of surfing in SI. Boring!
EDWARD J. FRAMI
Seeing your photograph of Bruce Hansel wiping out, I couldn't help but be reminded of Charlie Brown upended above the pitcher's mound after an opposing batter has belted a fastball by him.
HUFFING AND PUFFING
Thanks for the truly fine photographs by Walter Iooss Jr. (Baseball Puts Its Best Feet Forward, March 8). And thanks especially for the shot of Tom Seaver. It's nice to know there still is some appreciation for baseball's best pitcher.
LANCE M. SIEGEL
Thanks for your great picture of Miami Stadium under overcast skies at sunset. It brought back a lot of memories.
In the introduction to your picture act on spring training you say that the "leisurely rites of spring" promise to "cleanse and renew the spirit of the grand old game." Your photographs then show an ad overshadowing two players, a Metro guard delicately holding his diminishing butt and Dave Parker and teammate enjoying a deep drag on their cigarettes. Exactly which cleansing and renewing aspects of the game do these photos depict?
I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw your picture of Dave Parker. Here is a great ballplayer, and the only picture you can show is one of him smoking a cigarette? He had an off year last year, so you, like all other sports-writers, won't let him forget it. There are still many Parker fans around the country, and we all expect him to return to his old form this year.
SOUTH CAROLINA'S COMEBACK
As your writers so astutely pointed out (Special Report: Stormy Weather at South Carolina, Feb. 8), in the wake of the resignation of Pam Parsons as University of South Carolina women's basketball coach, the team dwindled to six players, lost more games than it won and fell from second to 19th in the women's college basketball polls.
But since the article appeared, the remaining Lady Gamecocks—yes, the nickname is ludicrous, but that was a cheap shot—and the four walk-ons have regrouped and won 10 of their last 11 games, including four over Top 20 opponents. They finished the regular season with a 22-7 record and ranked 13th in the AP poll. The Final Four in the NCAA playoffs at Norfolk isn't impossible.
I'd like to clear up a misunderstanding in Steve Wulf's STATS column (March 8). While we did hear of Smokey Joe Wood's concern about the error in his record in The Baseball Encyclopedia through John Thorn, who spoke with Wood for a book he is doing, the error had long since been corrected by Editor Joe Reichler, who works year-round checking the Encyclopedia for errors.
Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc.
New York City
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