As a member of the Beijing University basketball team during the 1986-87 season, I particularly enjoyed your examination of the development of sports in China (Aug. 15). I agree with William Oscar Johnson (The Image Has Altered) that the concept of Friendship First, Competition Second is often given only lip service in today's China. However, it would be wrong to assume that the Chinese have adopted a Win At Any Cost philosophy. Respect for officials, coaches and players is deeply ingrained in all of the athletes I had the privilege of competing with. The attitudes and styles of, for example, Billy Martin, Bobby Knight and the devotees of "basebrawl" are as foreign to Chinese athletes as dragon-boat races are to Americans.
JOHN D. McCARTHY
To have Frank Deford, E.M. Swift, Sarah Ballard and Rick Reilly, among others, in one issue was to have the best reading material imaginable. The only suggestion I would have is that in 10 years these same writers again travel to China to report on the changes. Presumably, they will find many.
The story (Here No One Is Spared) about six-year-old gymnast Zhang Liyin made me feel ill. To inflict such drastic and potentially dangerous punishment on a child for the sake of sport is going much too far. I admire her talent and obviously vibrant personality. I just pray they don't break her back in the process of training her to be a top athlete.
Last year I attended two women's college basketball games during a tournament at Shanghai University of Science and Technology, where my parents were teaching for the summer. Although the game was very sloppy and the fans seemed not to fully understand the sport, the players showed much more effort and enthusiasm than most American collegiate players I have seen. I believe this is the main reason the Chinese will become an athletic power: They are very, very hard workers.
September 4, 1988
Please show us a picture of the "tiny" world-record-setting (115-pound class) weightlifter, He Zhuoqiang, described by Ron Fimrite in POINT AFTER.
•Here he is (below), indulging in some table tennis in a park in Shilong.—ED.
As an Expo fan, I remember when Andre Dawson, Gary Carter and Jeff Rear-don were part of the Montreal organization. I also remember when Dawson was allowed to leave as a free agent and when Carter and Reardon were traded. I can only hope that the Expos' management will not make the same mistake with Andres Galarraga (Cat's Meow in Montreal, Aug. 8).
East Providence, R.I.
I'm confused. In Hank Hersch's article we are told that Expo fat cat Andres Galarraga is "powerful and agile, reliable on defense," and that defensively he "handles first base with aplomb." Furthermore, "He has good range on hard ground balls."
Apparently, the author meant to say that Galarraga handles first base with aplomb for a klutz. A scant 14 pages after these plaudits were heaped upon Le Grand Chat, we learn that Galarraga has earned the dubious distinction of being named to SI's All-Klutz Team (INSIDE BASEBALL, Aug. 8). It left me wondering: Who's on first—the Klutz or the All-Star?
San Bernardino, Calif.
Your characterizaton of the players who lead in errors at each position as an All-Klutz team was too harsh. It's a squad that includes past and, no doubt, future All-Stars and MVPs. It's a team that could lead the league in errors—and win the World Series.
Ralph Wiley's profile of Washington Redskins cornerback Barry Wilburn and his family was outstanding (Born To Be a Champion, Aug. 8). I was happy to see Barry's father, Jesse, get some national recognition, albeit some 30 years after the fact. In 1953, I was a freshman at Melrose High when Jesse and the Golden Wildcats were on the way to a state championship. And in 1957, when I was a freshman at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo., our undefeated and untied team met the Tennessee State team. Our squad was fired up, but a superior Tennessee State team, with a strong rushing attack led by Jesse, beat us 26-6. I agree with Grambling coach Eddie Robinson's assessment of Jesse—"Now this was a ballplayer."
COL. JAMES A. YOUNG, USA
If America had more parents like Margaret and Jesse Wilburn, we would have more kids like Barry and fewer young people involved in drugs, etc. Margaret gave up the Rome Olympics for her family; Jesse gave up coaching to support his family. What a pair! What a touching story!
THE GOOD THINGS
Way to go, Ron Fimrite! Your POINT AFTER "No Fun Without the Sun" (Aug. 8) was a terrific rebuttal to the health nuts. After all, how much fun would life be without an occasional 2 a.m. dash to a 7-Eleven to ingest a beef burrito? What would a fishing trip be without a stogie or a chaw? What would a weekend golf match be without any beer to drink after nine? You tell me, bodies-in-motion, fiber-for-breakfast boys and girls: Who is enjoying life more?
RICH HOFFMANN JR.
Little Falls, N.J.
We have a husband/father who runs marathons, eats raisins, fusses at smokers, exercises constantly and stays in the shade at God's most wonderful creation, the beach. The three of us framed Ron Fimrite's essay and presented it to our health nut. Thank heaven he has maintained his sense of humor. You provided the family with a wonderful opportunity for a good laugh.
JO, CRAIG AND KELLY ROBERTSON
Ron Fimrite was correct in asserting that many fitness freaks often exhibit an obnoxious, self-righteous, healthier-than-thou attitude. However, Fimrite missed the point concerning the issue that caused him to write the article: health nuts warning against sun exposure. What many people have been suggesting recently is that very soon even limited exposure to the sun may be unhealthy, especially if we keep abusing the atmosphere at the current level. Like Fimrite, I try to avoid worrying too much about being healthy, enjoying as many hours in the sun as I can. But I fear that our children may not be able to be so carefree.
As a resident of the land of Bear Bryant, please allow me to answer some of the questions raised by Austin Murphy (Low Tide for Alabama, Aug. 8).
"Would such incidents have occurred under Bryant?" The answer is yes, and it is not based on conjecture but rather on history. Such players as Joe Namath and Ken Stabler rebelled against authority—and were accordingly punished by the Bear. Bill Curry has not taken a backseat to Bryant in this regard. The reason Joe King "won't be suiting up for Alabama again" is that Curry did not invite him to rejoin the program.
"Will Curry have cause to plant a garden for next year if 'Bama fails to beat cross-state rival Auburn this year?" Again the answer is yes—if cooler heads prevail. While I revere the memory of Bryant, I also recall that the Tide did not set the world on fire in his first year at the helm. What's more, 'Bama suffered consecutive mediocre seasons under Bryant in 1969 and '70.
The incidents to which Murphy refers are indeed an embarrassment—to the young men involved and to their families, not to the university. To wear that crimson jersey is still the dream of thousands of kids. The Alabama program under the guidance of Bill Curry is returning to—not departing from—the solid values of the Bryant era.
Eight Mile, Ala.
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