Congratulations to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for having the good taste to choose Wayne Gretzky as 1982's Sportsman of the Year (Greatness Confirmed, Dec. 27-Jan. 3), and congratulations to Wayne Gretzky for earning this honor.
As my interest in hockey grows, sparked by exciting young players like Gretzky and aided by the football strike, which helped me to realize there are other sports worth watching at this time of year, I find it increasingly annoying that I must leaf through the back pages of the sports section of my newspaper to locate articles on hockey. It is a pleasure to find that SI and Gretzky have helped to bring hockey into the limelight.
RITA L. WILSON
Your selection of Wayne Gretzky as Sportsman of the Year once again illustrates SI's tremendous knowledge and understanding of the sports world. In my opinion, and I'm sure in the opinion of many others, there couldn't have been a better choice.
Bobby Hull summed it up best when he said of Gretzky, "You find yourself pulling for him, don't you?" Edmonton's road attendance figures would seem to bear Hull out. Gretzky's greatest fans aren't necessarily north of the border.
Shawnee Mission, Kans.
January 10, 1983
Well done! I congratulate E.M. Swift for illustrating that Wayne Gretzky is worthy of being considered the greatest hockey player ever and of being considered one of the greatest sportsmen ever. However, even though I'm a big hockey fan and I admire Gretzky, I think Jimmy Connors was overlooked. Connors had an incredible year, winning both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, and I doubt he'll have another like it. I think SI jumped the gun by naming Gretzky Sportsman of the Year in 1982. He still has many years of excellence to come, while Connors' time is now.
What's this? The greatest coach in the history of football retires and you put a hockey player on the cover. I walked all the way to my mailbox to get my SI. I just knew the cover would be a classic shot of the Bear standing under the goalpost. The person who chose the Gretzky cover should be slapped with a wet noodle. And Robin Yount should have been Sportsman of the Year.
Congratulations on John Underwood's fine article on Bear Bryant (After Many a Splendid Season, the Bear Hangs Up His Hat, Dec. 27-Jan. 3). Frank Deford's earlier story on Bryant ("I Do Love the Football," Nov. 23, 1981) pales in comparison.
As a former Alabama undergrad and graduate student (1972-78), I saw Bryant-coached teams win 10 or more games in six of my seven school years. Over that period Alabama won two national championships and finished in the Top 5 six times.
It never failed to cause chills to run up my spine when Bryant would pause before an applauding Alabama student section during his pregame stroll, doff his houndstooth-check hat and place it over his heart. He was, as Underwood said, a man who "cared deeply" about players, coaches and fans alike. Because he appreciated those around him, was the last to take any credit and was magnanimous in his gestures, he was easy to love.
LANKER'S LOOK AT '82
Congratulations to SI and photographer Brian Lanker on the wonderful portfolio entitled Pieces of '82 (Dec. 27-Jan. 3). As a sports photographer for Columbia University, I deeply appreciate Lanker's creative vision. The hands of Rickey Henderson, Sugar Ray Leonard's gaze, the illuminating smile of Magic Johnson—all are exciting and fun and portray the psychological as well as the physical gifts of these remarkable athletes.
Lanker's obvious technical talent and originality are inspirational as well as entertaining. I hope more of his work will grace future issues.
New York City
Pieces of '82 was a most welcome Christmas present. SI has always strived to show the American public, via photojournalism, the grace of athletic endeavor. Brian Lanker's photographic essay surpasses all the others you have published. He deserves boundless credit, especially for the picture of Larry Holmes holding his infant son. The brutality of the boxing ring isn't forgotten but put into perspective when placed alongside the love of a father for a child. The strength and the fragility, the awareness and the naiveté—this picture is staggering in its honesty.
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has brought to me many hours of thought-provoking, as well as lighthearted, reading, but Pieces of '82 is to be treasured by all who follow sport.
JEFFREY C. SIEGEL, PH.D.
Forensic and Clinical Psychology
THE GREAT HAWAIIAN FOOTRACE
Finding an article by Kenny Moore in your year-end issue (To the Limit and Beyond, Dec. 27-Jan. 3) was indeed a pleasure. He is that rare combination of a tried and tested athlete and a person whose perception and sensitivity, as evidenced by his writing, extend way beyond the mere recounting of an event. Articles of the caliber of Moore's serve to elevate your magazine above sports to life itself—a perspective from which we all can benefit.
Concerning his performance in the second Great Hawaiian Footrace, I would offer this advice to Moore: To know that "the price is greater for one's being fully conscious of it" and then to continue in spite of that knowledge can only be very foolish or very courageous. "And each successive shot was another loud, fateful rap on the door of my undoing."—Camus, The Stranger.
Kenny Moore's article To the Limit and Beyond was excellent. I would like to point out that Moore's isolated episode of "heart-blood red" urine was probably not caused by a traumatized bladder, as suggested by Dr. Rudy Dressendorfer, but was more likely secondary to the rapid and intense destruction of striated muscle fibers that can occur with extreme exertion, particularly in hot weather. This will release myoglobin into the bloodstream, which leads to myoglobinuria (myoglobin in the urine) and, as the result, dark-red to burgundy-colored urine. This also can lead to kidney damage and acute renal failure. Moore is lucky he recovered as rapidly as he did and was probably helped by the large amount of fluid he ingested after the race.
I would strongly suspect that Dr. Dressendorfer's daily blood studies to detect elevations in heart enzymes instead showed elevation of Moore's muscle enzymes over this period.
GARY NEWMAN, M.D.
EWING VS. SAMPSON
As a Virginia alumnus and avid Cavalier fan, I thoroughly enjoyed your Dec. 20 cover story on Virginia's victory over Georgetown (When Push Came to Shove). I was delighted with the thorough coverage you provided. However, I take exception to Curry Kirkpatrick's conclusions about the Ralph Sampson-Patrick Ewing duel. I thought Ewing played very well against Sampson and that the duel wasn't as one-sided as the article indicated. Ewing did a fine job against the best player in college basketball today. I hope Kirkpatrick's comments weren't designed to get Ewing psyched up for a potential rematch in March. I shudder to think of him playing with even more intensity than he already does.
KURT J. POMRENKE
The matchup between Ewing and Sampson was a thing of beauty. While Curry Kirkpatrick correctly stated that Sampson proved himself to be the better of the two, I think more credit should have been bestowed on Ewing for playing a courageous game against a taller and more seasoned opponent. Big Ralph is No. 1 now, but Ewing will assume that role one day.
WILLIAM S. HENRY
Your comments about Ralph Sampson were a bit too much. You seem to think he's the greatest ever in college basketball. But how many times has he led Virginia to the NCAA championship?
Look at all the top college players in recent years who carried their teams to the title: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (UCLA), Magic Johnson (Michigan State), Darrell Griffith (Louisville). James Worthy (North Carolina), David Thompson (NC State), Bill Walton (UCLA) and, almost, Larry Bird (Indiana State), to name a few. Virginia hasn't even won an ACC Tournament championship in the "Ralph Era." Before you put Sampson in a class with these other stars, his on-the-court results should be more impressive.'
No wonder Sampson and Ewing are so good! As your opening photograph clearly showed, between the two of them they have six legs and six arms. Curry Kirkpatrick made no mention of this anatomical bonus in his otherwise informative article.
FRANK J. CIAVARELLA
Letters should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.