It was nice to read about Karl (Mailman) Malone, an athlete who is trying to set a good example for the youth of America (Does He Ever Deliver! Nov. 7). Malone is not a legend—yet—but he is walking the right path. Louisiana Tech, the NBA and, of course, his mother, Shirley Turner, can be proud of him.
LANCE BARNETT (Louisiana Tech '85)
By picking the Detroit Pistons to win the NBA championship (Scouting Reports, Nov. 7), you've placed the Los Angeles Lakers in the role of an underdog. That should help reduce some of the pressure on the Lakers and enable them to win their third straight title.
Salt Lake City
Last year, SI predicted that the Dallas Mavericks would lose to the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs (Scouting Reports, Nov. 9, 1987). However, the Mavericks took the Lakers to seven games before losing in the conference finals. Your 1988-89 NBA preview says, "Dallas will break down in the playoffs." I predict that, come this June, you will be eating some chicken-fried crow.
In the early 1950s, I played football for coach Wright Bazemore at Valdosta (Ga.) High School (Winnersville, U.S.A., Oct. 31), but not on the varsity. He was my P.E. instructor for four years, and he had his classes play two-hand touch. His style was absolute discipline, tempered by fairness and humor. His level of intensity, even in class, was full throttle. At the end of the hour, the losers were required to run 10 laps around the football field—or Death Valley, as we called the field.
During my senior year at Valdosta (1954-55), the varsity lost only one game in the regular season, to Jesup High, and then lost in the playoffs to the same team. On the student bus I rode in coming home from that game, the girls cried and the boys didn't talk. After reading your article, I dug out my yearbooks and found that in the regular seasons from '51 through '54, the Wildcats outscored their opponents 1,187 to 235. Losing was just not in the program.
Incidentally, our new baby recently received a gift from his godmother who lives in Valdosta—a pair of Wildcat boxer shorts. They truly do start 'em early.
The Valdosta Wildcats have discovered a winning recipe for both football and living—hard work, strong discipline and priorities placed in the proper order. I hope coaches at all levels noted your photograph of the message on coach Nick Hyder's blackboard: GOD CREATOR, FAMILY, ACADEMICS, FRIENDS, WILDCATS. I suspect those words are a summary of his successful philosophy.
W. PAUL NANCE
Geoffrey Norman mentions that parents were former Valdosta coach Bazemore's "greatest allies in motivating their sons to play good football." He says, "Bazemore was death on complacency." He also quotes former Bazemore player Bud Hatcher as saying, "Sometimes we'd be out there [practicing] till 10 or 11 o'clock." As a former high school and college letterman, and also as a former teacher-professor-coach, I wonder when the kids had time to study.
GEORGE W. WILLIAMS
Pacific Grove, Calif.
Several things about the Valdosta football program disturb me. Players who came out for practice without their helmets ended up with bloody ears because, to teach them a lesson, coach Bazemore put them through full-contact scrimmages with their helmeted teammates. A Bazemore successor who was a winning coach was pressured into resigning. Finally, Wildcat players were (and are) given preferential treatment in the off-season job market.
With high schools that have warped values like Valdosta's, it's no wonder that so many college athletic programs are scandal-ridden. Young athletes enter college with the idea that they are somehow more special than the nonathlete and that winning at all costs is what amateur sports is all about.
After citing (SCORECARD, Oct. 31) the recent success of Los Angeles's sports teams, you couldn't resist one last shot of New York-based jealousy: "Enjoy it while it lasts, L.A." We do, thanks. In the 1980s, Los Angeles teams have won five NBA championships, two World Series and one Super Bowl. And L.A.'s contribution to the Olympics is not limited to having twice hosted the Games. In Seoul, 25 gold medals were won by current or former athletes from Los Angeles-area colleges, including 17 from UCLA, four from Pepperdine and two from USC. Over the years, UCLA and USC have won 129 NCAA team titles.
Santa Monica, Calif.
The new City of Champions may well be Los Angeles, but you're living in the past if you believe Wayne Gretzky is still the greatest player in hockey. The new Great One lives in Pittsburgh, the past City of Champions, and his name is Mario Lemieux.
BRIAN J. HULEK
I recently began my first year of junior college basketball and was looking for a way to improve my play. I thought, as many other struggling athletes have, that anabolic steroids were the answer. I had already made arrangements to purchase the steroids when The Nightmare of Steroids appeared in your Oct. 24 issue. Not only did Tommy Chaikin's story convince me that steroids are not the answer, but it also may have saved my life. Thanks.
Your story on the use of anabolic steroids came to my attention when my 15-year-old son asked, "Dad, will I have to take drugs to be competitive as a college athlete?" What is the honest answer to that question?
GEORGE R. LANOUE
Indiana has made it a felony for physicians to prescribe anabolic steroids for the purpose of athletic enhancement. I hope that the other 49 states will soon adopt similar laws.
RICHARD SCHMITT (Pharmacist)
•Ten other states—Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Virginia—-have adopted regulatory or legislative measures to control the use, distribution and possession of anabolic steroids, though a violation isn't a felony in all cases. Similar bills are pending in the legislatures of Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.—ED.
Courage at West Point (PERSPECTIVE, Oct. 3) describes how two cadets overcame cancer. One had Hodgkin's disease, the other testicular cancer. My husband read the story, and because of it (he had previously noticed a change in one of his testicles but had not been alarmed by it), he made an appointment with his doctor. The day after his examination he had a cancerous testicle removed. The doctors told him that the article in your magazine saved his life. The ordeal is not yet over for us, but the future is a lot brighter than it might have been. Words will never explain how grateful I am.
Los Gatos, Calif.
I enjoyed your Focus (Oct. 24) on the growing popularity of statues of sports figures. Readers might be interested to know that Mark Lundeen isn't the only member of his family to create a bronze of a sports hero. Mark's older brother, George, is also a well-known sculptor and accomplished athlete (he can outdrive most of the golfers in this area). George has done a terrific life-size bronze (below) of Gene Sarazen for the Atlanta National Golf Club. It is comforting to know that Sarazen will grace those historic links for many years to come.
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