I haven't finished reading my Sept. 7 issue, because Leigh Montville's article on Southern California (Everything under the Sun) made me stop to write immediately. Montville had me smiling, empathizing and anxious to buy an airline ticket to L.A.! It was a great visual tour that could only have been written by an Easterner. Thanks, Leigh!
As a native of Southern California, I want everyone in the rest of the nation to know that it does rain here, that it's overcrowded, and that when you see mountains in the background of the Rose Bowl on TV on New Year's Day, it's the only time they are visible all year. So please don't feel obligated to rush out and see what living in Southern California is like.
Incidentally, I am destroying any copies of that issue I can get my hands on so that no one else can find out about living in paradise.
And just as a matter of interest, the boys and girls in the red bathing suits pictured on page 60 are the 9-to 12-year-old division of the Huntington Beach Junior Lifeguards. My son Ryan is among that group.
SUSAN MOCSNY BAKER
Huntington Beach, Calif.
October 4, 1987
At one point Leigh Montville asks where people from California go on vacation. The answer is simple: Hawaii.
I anxiously drove home to get my new issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED from the mailbox, secure in the knowledge that Ben Johnson would be on the cover. But whom did I see there instead? Some California skimboarder! I have nothing against California surfers—or surfers in general. I body-surf myself. But to put a skimboarder on the cover when, in that very same week, Johnson had blasted the 100-meter-dash record with a Beamonesque 9.83 clocking is incomprehensible. Utterly astounding.
Wonderful essay by Jack McCallum in your Pro Football Spectacular (POINT AFTER, Sept. 9). I had been waiting for someone to point out the obvious stupidity of the NFL's instant replay rule. Officiating is as much a part of the game as passing or blocking or tackling. Mistaken decisions even out, as long as the officials are men of integrity—which is the only thing that really matters.
McCallum is right. The rule slows down the game and makes officials hesitant about making controversial calls, for fear that the replay official will overrule them. It is fruitless for the NFL to think it can perfect such a vague rule. The league could save itself a lot of headaches by just dropping it.
McCallum rationalizes that, because football is coached by imperfect coaches and played by imperfect players, there is nothing wrong with imperfect officials officiating the games. This is obviously the rationale of an imperfect writer. It is the imperfections of the teams, not those of the officials, that should decide the winners and losers.
NICHOLAS S. TUSKE
As long as you have the tools to correct a wrong decision, why five in the past?
NOT A BAD CHOICE
In your otherwise excellent story on recruiting hostesses (The Fall Roundup, Aug. 31), Alexander Wolff quips that high school football players visiting college campuses should "mind your manners, or you may end up having to walk on at Rhode Island." Such a statement is inappropriate and degrading, not only to the University of Rhode Island, but also to all schools in Division I-AA. The Yankee Conference is perennially one of the strongest I-AA leagues in the nation, and Rhode Island is consistently competitive, having won three conference championships in the past six years.
Why do the writers at a quality publication such as SI insist on downplaying the other levels of college football while heaping accolades on Division I-A? In the future, please give Divisions I-AA, II and III and the NAIA their deserved respect. Athletes, coaches, administrators and fans will all appreciate it.
CHRISTOPHER D. ELLIS
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS
As a senior running back and defensive cornerback on the Princeton (Calif.) High football team, I was amused by the SCORECARD item (Aug. 24) in which you noted that the high school in Jim Thorpe, Pa., didn't have enough players to field a team. For the past two years. Princeton High has also barely been able to field a team. Coach Mark Riehlman asks for at least 11 players. We feel privileged if we can get 12 or 13. This is not to say that our town lacks spirit, just size (pop. 404).
Last year, as our team lined up for an opening kickoff, the referee started to count our players. One of our linemen told him it would be easier to count the guys on the bench; if there was one there, we had 11 on the field.
We finished second in our league, losing the championship game 14-12. We hope to improve on that this year. We are optimistic because now we are able to field both J.V. and varsity teams—which hasn't been the case for years.
Anyway, I think Jim Thorpe coach Art Guth should be thankful for the 22 players he has.
'TWAS THE MACALLAN
In an otherwise enchanting tour of the moors and whins of Scotland's Royal Dornoch golf course (Unseen Hands on My Game, Aug. 17), you did a disservice to one of the great whiskys of the world. I'm sure that Rick Reilly's caddie, Sandy Matheson, was enjoying not Maclellan, but Macallan. Fortunately we in the States can also partake of this fine single malt as well. I particularly recommend the 18-year-old variety.
No doubt Reilly had a wee drop too many with his trusted guide, and the label blurred in the Scottish mist. It is a mistake easily forgiven. I wish I could have been there to join them.
Ben Lomond, Calif.
OLYMPIC TENNIS (CONT.)
I wish to comment on some of the issues raised in Bill Colson's POINT AFTER (June 29) on the return of tennis to the Olympic Games as a fully competitive sport in Seoul next year.
The reason why I and other International Tennis Federation officials maintained our 10-year campaign to have tennis, one of the original sports of the modern Olympics, included again in the Games was to provide help for tennis in those countries where help, encouragement and inspiration are most needed. One of the points constantly made to me, even before I became president of the ITF 11 years ago, was that if we really wanted to develop tennis around the world, taking the game back to the Olympics was essential. Quite simply I was told by a number of associations, "If tennis is not an Olympic sport, then we will have no chance of receiving any financial aid from our government to help us develop the game."
Actually, Olympic benefits are already beginning to flow to some of these nations. Of 51 development and coaching workshops held during 1986, nearly half were funded by grants from Olympic Solidarity, which is the means by which the International Olympic Committee channels money from its television and other marketing revenues back into sports at the grass roots.
As for the competitors, despite the fact that there will be no prize money, Boris Becker, Steffi Graf, Stefan Edberg and Wimbledon champion Pat Cash have already announced their intention to compete, and Martina Navratilova may yet decide to join them.
All in all, we do not believe that any individual or organization has anything to lose from tennis's return to the Olympic Games, but many have much to gain. What's wrong with that?
The International Tennis Federation
I thoroughly enjoyed looking at the pictures of world lumberjack championships in Hayward, Wis. (Anyone Seen a Blue Ox? Aug. 10). Josè Azel did a marvelous job of getting unique angles, adding flavor to a very colorful event.
The top performers of 1987 should be given some credit. Rolin Eslinger of McCloud, Calif., set a record in buck-sawing and won his first all-around world championship. Dan McDonough of Escanaba, Mich., won his fourth straight logrolling title, and Bonnie Pendleton of Pompano Beach. Fla., won her second straight (third in four years) women's logrolling title.
If I'm not mistaken, the picture of the pole climber is of 1986 world speed-climbing champion Dennis Butler, with whom I attended junior high and high school in Grants Pass, Ore. I am curious to know how Dennis did this year.
PAUL A. JOHNSON
•He's champ again.—ED.
I understand that the birthdays celebrated in INSIDE BASEBALL each week must coincide with the issue dates of your magazine. Nonetheless, I hope you can grant my request.
My father, George Metkovich, who played major league baseball for 10 years, will be 67 on Oct. 8. He has done so much for me and has had such a strong influence on my life that buying him a sweater or golf balls for his birthday just won't tell him how much he has meant to me. To see his baseball card and a happy birthday note in SI, however, would really make his day. Any chance?
Huntington Beach, Calif.
•For those who may not know, Catfish Metkovich was a .261 career hitter who played for the Red Sox, the Indians, the White Sox, the Pirates, the Cubs and the Milwaukee Braves between 1943 and 1954. Happy Birthday, Catfish.—ED.
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.