Frank Deford's article on the Thunderbirds (America the Beautiful's Team, Aug. 3) was outstanding. At the Air Force Academy's graduation in May, the Thunderbirds "screamed" over the stadium in perfect formation just as the graduates threw their hats in the air. It is a sight I will never forget.
Deford has outdone himself. I could have read 12 more pages. Everyone should see the Thunderbirds perform at least once in his lifetime.
I wish you had run more of Joe McNally's photographs of the "hardest thing I've ever had to do with a camera."
I enjoyed the article, but the rather unflattering remarks about the Navy's Blue Angels bothered me. Having seen both perform, I would give the best rating to the Blues, not only for their performance but also for a routine that all naval aviators (not just pilots) perform. It is called night carrier landing!
After following Vinny Testaverde's career at the University of Miami, I have no doubt that his transition to NFL quarterback on Florida's other coast will be smooth (Vinny's Ship Has Come In, Aug. 3). With Vinny's rifle and the new leadership of Ray Perkins, the Bucs may once again regain respectability in the league.
But if Perkins can gain a first down on a third-and-five from his opponents' four-yard line, as Phil Simms mentioned in his hypothetical pregame talk with Perkins, the Bucs will regain respect, but the NFL may have to remeasure its fields!
Your story about Testaverde was an embarrassing look at a young athlete with more money than sense. Is it the role of your publication to let people know in what kind of and how expensive a boat Testaverde cruises Florida waters? Or to fill them in on his recent appearance at a Beach Boys concert? We want to read about the sports side of Testaverde, not the playboy-about-town side. When Vin takes the field, let us know.
ROBERT O. SELF
Grants Pass, Ore.
Kudos to Boris Becker and the West German Davis Cup team's victory for both the score and their sportsmanship (Yankee Flameout in Hartford, Aug. 3). Bring back Randy Gregson, former U.S. Tennis Association president, and relegate "McEnbrat" and his boorish disdain for sportsmanship to the pits. Winning without honor is shallow victory.
JAMES R. ROGERS
Huntington Beach, Calif.
John McEnroe's behavior toward Eric Jelen was appalling. It was a pleasure to watch tennis when he was on a break.
To be patriotic is one thing, but to be rude, insulting and unsportsmanlike is something that the U.S. Tennis Association should not tolerate.
River Forest, Ill.
Finally, a story about the Minnesota Twins that captured what the lovable Twinkies are all about. Austin Murphy's rundown (A New Set of Twins, July 27) of why you don't have to run down the standings to find the Twins was the best I've read. Sure, we lead the league in consonants, and with the Herbie and Kirby show we will soon just lead the league.
TOM WADDELL (CONT.)
The Death of an Athlete (July 27) is a moving tribute to Tom Waddell, but what is more important, it sheds light on the fact that many gay people play major roles in athletics. Bringing gay athletes out of the closet can help to eliminate stereotypes and fight the "disease of ignorance and prejudice" to which Dick Schaap refers. This would benefit all of us.
RICHARD A. BANYARD
During my high school and college days many of us believed gays never could infringe on our "macho-jock" arena and certainly never could measure up to our "tough-guy" self-esteem. Our ignorance fueled our biased locker-room conversation and prejudiced remarks directed at all nonjocks, who, in our eyes, must have been "fags."
Gold medals and blue ribbons are nothing compared with the courage and honesty exhibited by Waddell and those dead and dying of AIDS.
PETER J. CAYAN III
Glens Falls, N.Y.
As an Army physician, a lifelong athlete and an avid sports fan, I was interested in your article about Waddell. I am disappointed in SI not only for elevating homosexuality to a level of acceptability but also for lauding Waddell's life-style in addition to his atheltic prowess, as if Waddell were some kind of societal martyr instead of a victim of his own moral corruption. He accomplished much on the playing field, but his life was not a good example for our younger generation.
CAPT. MARK A. CONNELLY, M.D.
Ft. Benning, Ga.
This was a man who refused to fight for his country in war, made a mockery of marriage as an institution and, as you said, "was a role model for every homosexual in San Francisco."
JOHN T. ANDERSON
Mineral Springs, Ark.
Paul Azinger may very well be the future of golf, but Nick Faldo did win (Very British Open, July 27). For fairness's sake, when Azinger wins his first major (which he undoubtedly will), write an article about Faldo so we can find out what he's like.
PIT BULLS (CONT.)
Your story The Pit Bull: Friend and Killer (July 27) could have been written about Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers or any number of dogs. Even poodles can be vicious if trained to be.
If the pit bull were rendered extinct, the problem of dogfighting wouldn't be eliminated. Another hearty breed, perhaps the boxer, would be chosen, based on its physical characteristics, and it would be ruined in the name of perpetuating dogfighting.
Defenders of the pit bull always seem to miss the salient point that it is the ferocity of the bite, not the number of bites, that has made the dog so feared today. A number of cities and counties have gone after a whopping $100,000 bond for pit bull owners, because that is often the price of plastic surgery needed to piece victims back together.
As a longtime SI reader as well as an American pit bull terrier owner, my initial response to the cover photo was "Oh no, not again." But I was pleasantly surprised that E.M. Swift provided an honest, factual account of a breed whose reputation has suffered through no fault of its own but through the base instincts of the unfortunate minority among us humans. Our dogs, much as our children, are a reflection of ourselves. Let's cast a good one.
By putting that picture of a pit bull on the cover you glamorized a despicable and inhumane activity.
I am 22 years old and a recent graduate of Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where I majored in art direction. During the past 4½ years I have collected more than 1,250 autographs on the covers of your magazine. Although I receive some autographs through the mail, I have gotten most in person, including those of President Ford, Bob Hope, Muhammad Ali (all 29 covers—he signed about 15 of them at a New York City restaurant recently) and 9 bathing-suit cover models.
Most people are pretty obliging about signing, particularly athletes no longer active in sports, such as Eddie Mathews, who was on your first cover, Aug. 16, 1954. As a group, golfers are probably the nicest. Baseball players sometimes have an attitude problem.
Right now the autograph I want most is Ronald Reagan's. He has been on your cover twice (Nov. 26, 1984, and Feb. 16, 1987), but it's tough to get to him.
Englewood Cliff's, N.J.
Letters to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and should be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020-1393.