•UNFIT KIDS (CONT.)
One reason American teenagers are in poor condition (SCORECARD, March 13) is that gym classes stopped giving them a physical education some years ago. My father and I have very different recollections of phys ed. He went to high school in the 1950s and remembers running, push-ups, basketball and the rings. I attended high school in the early '80s, and often our most strenuous activity was fooling around in the locker room while changing into our shorts. The classes themselves were taken up with yoga, archery, Frisbee and the like.
I am now a high school English teacher and football coach, and things are not any better today. Until phys-ed gets back to helping students achieve a sound mind in a sound body, we might as well follow New Jersey governor Thomas Kean's lead and make the classes optional. As they are now, too many phys-ed programs are a waste of students' time.
As a professor of education at the State University of New York at Albany, I have noticed that fewer elementary schools schedule recess periods in which children move outside to a playground to romp around a bit. Instead, small children are confined, sitting all day in an officelike setting. Phys-ed periods, when they exist at all, often involve more lining up, listening and waiting for a turn than they do actual physical activity.
RICHARD ALLINGTON, PH.D.
Glenmont, N. Y.
Physical-education programs should be structured with the emphasis on fitness rather than on skill and athletic ability. When the focus is on athletic prowess, children with average or below-average skills often become discouraged and lose interest in exercise. Fitness programs require no special talent, and all healthy children have the capacity to excel.
In the wake of your story on Michael Jordan (Horns of a Dilemma, March 13), he went down with a groin pull. Upon Jordan's return, Chicago coach Doug Collins moved him to point guard. Surprisingly, the move has worked extraordinarily well. For instance, in his first game back Jordan scored 18 points and dished 15 assists in a 105-88 win over the SuperSonics.
I believe that keeping Jordan at point guard will cut down on the wear and tear on him and maybe prolong his playing career. I also believe that it could put Chicago in contention for the NBA championship.
North Creek, N. Y.
Thank you for Penny Ward Moser's article about the sad effects the summer drought and harsh winter have had on our wildlife (A Climate for Death, March 13). I hope this will motivate readers to take action by getting in touch with legislators and the many environmental groups that keep informed of measures that can be taken to alleviate the ills plaguing our fragile planet.
DANIEL T. WALL
While reading Penny Ward Moser's chilling piece, I could not help but think that the fate of wildlife across the nation this past year could become the fate of America's people, unless we act now to clean our air and water and learn how to cope better with Mother Nature's unpredictable behavior.
In regard to the great American sportsmen pictured waiting, guns in hand, for buffalo at the border of Yellowstone National Park, how much skill is required to slaughter starving animals? I can only imagine the frustration and sadness park rangers and those who fed these majestic animals must have felt while watching the carnage.
Let's see if I've got this straight about raising alligators for fun and profit (Return of a Reptile, March 6). They grow fastest "in the hot, quiet dark," but 2½ years later "the sound of the human voice petrifies them." So this good ol' boy you write about has the idea of putting in a sound system so these critters will be treated to the voices of deejays and country music 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Have the animal rights groups heard about this?
I can think of nothing crueler than subjecting innocent creatures to 24 hours of country music a day.
Costa Mesa, Calif.
•NHL ON TV
The article Left Out in the Cold (Feb. 20) states that Sports Channel America households are receiving more NHL coverage than ever—"two nights a week in NHL cities and three nights a week elsewhere." Here in south Florida we see somewhat less than that, and sometimes we don't even see a whole game. For instance, the only part of a recent Bruins-Maple Leafs game SCA carried was the third period. In place of the first two periods, we saw the end of a Florida Southern-Eckerd College basketball game. The real killer, however, was the All-Star Game. SCA, "the Network of the National Hockey League," saw fit to preempt 30 minutes of pregame coverage to show the end of a basketball game between Old Dominion and Jacksonville. What kind of hockey coverage is that? For my money, ESPN did a much better job of telecasting hockey.
J. JEFF DAVIES
Boca Raton, Fla.
•FOR PROP 42
As a black educator, I am disturbed by Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson's opposition to NCAA Proposition 42, which will stiffen academic requirements for incoming freshman athletes (A New Proposition, Jan. 23). I have been on the high school and college scene for many years as both a clinical and a school psychologist, and I can attest that many high school students, particularly inner-city black males, put forth almost no effort to prepare themselves academically for college. Their sole intention is to go to college on an athletic scholarship and play in the NFL or the NBA.
As things stand today, under the less stringent Proposition 48, many of these youths get the scholarships they want, play a sport for three or four years and leave college undereducated, with no marketable skills and no degree. What is worse, only about 1% of college athletes make it to the pros.
In your article a number of coaches spoke out against Prop 42 because to invoke it, they said, would be tantamount to "throwing those youths away." Coach Thompson and Temple basketball coach John Chaney called Prop 42 racist. I believe it would be racist to reverse it, because without it we are protecting a population of youths who, for the most part, do not belong in college.
Many inner-city youths who are bright, academically involved and well-motivated are excluded from college because of a lack of funds. Where are the advocates for these youngsters? No coach has come out in their behalf. Is it because these kids can't play basketball or football? Are the coaches really as altruistic about black youths as they pretend to be, or is it a winning team that concerns them?
MAYFIELD PETERSON, PH.D.
Darrell Waltrip's lucky number is obviously 17. The press has mentioned that his winning car at February's Daytona 500 bore number 17, that this year was his 17th racing at Daytona, that his daughter, Jessica Leigh, was 17 months old at the time of the race, that he has 17 letters in his name (his middle name is Lee) and that the purse for the Daytona 500 was $1.7 million. After seeing Waltrip on a Nashville Network Television show and then reviewing your coverage of the race (About Time, Fella) and FOR THE RECORD in the Feb. 27 issue, I discovered additional "17" data. Waltrip's share of the purse was $184,400, and 1+8+4+4=17. He also finished 7.64 seconds ahead of Ken Schrader. Yes, 7+6+4=17.
BRYAN E. ADKINS
The story on high school basketball stars Jason and Carlin Warley and their plan to attend the same university (My Brother, My Teammate, March 13) reminds me of the Stith brothers of St. Bonaventure University. Sam (left, above) was class of '60, and Tom (right) was '61. In 1959-60, Sam averaged 20.5 points a game for the Bonnies and Tom, 31.5. Tom was an All-America that season as well as in '60-61.
Each went on to spend one season with the New York Knicks, but they didn't play together. Sam, who served a six-month stint in the army at Fort Knox right after his senior year, played for New York in 1961-62, and Tom played in '62-63. Tom's NBA career was delayed when he developed tuberculosis toward the end of his senior year. But brothers do make great teammates.
Mililani Town, Hawaii
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.