DRESSED TO KILL
I admired Rick Telander's story about killing for sports attire (Senseless, May 14) and the challenge it poses for the business community. At one point Telander asks, "Should we demand that the sports shoe industry be held to a higher standard than, say, the junk food industry?" And later he says, "Obviously we are talking about something bigger than shoes here."
In early April, our publication ran an editorial addressing the same topic. We see this not as a shoe industry problem, but one that involves every company, every ad agency and every marketing executive. The editorial read in part:
"This senseless violence over advertised shoes, jackets and unadvertised baubles [such as gold chains, rings and watches] requires a reassessment by all levels of society. For those who work in advertising, ask yourselves what your role should be in this age of instant gratification.... Until recent decades, our appeals to 'get it today' were routinely countered by an 'Old World' society in which the Puritan ethic, in many manifestations, was still at work. Mothers, fathers and grandparents tried to teach their children about patience and prudence, the golden rule and the rewards for hard work. But the world has changed.... Family life and values are crumbling. What used to be a somewhat even battle between the exaggerations and lure of advertising and the prudence of authority figures at home has become dangerously one-sided.
"In the face of this imbalance, this absence of a more widespread counterpressure, shouldn't more advertisers accept a greater responsibility to soften their hedonistic appeals, especially to younger people? While advertising isn't responsible for the breakdown, and some advertisers are already dealing with old traditions in their campaigns, we believe it is time for all who create and approve advertising to at least keep this now-uneven playing field in mind. This is a time to help 'the other side' by building into selling messages at least some encouragement for those values of prudence and self-denial that we so long sought to overcome.
June 24, 1990
"Perhaps advertising can help bring basic values back into fashion.
"If not us, who?"
Editor, Advertising Age
New York City
In Senseless, Rick Telander raised the question of whether blame for a series of deaths should be laid at the feet of manufacturers and retailers of popular athletic clothing and footwear. It is unfair—and unreasonable—to so assess the blame. When such tragedies occur, they do so because of pervasive sociological ills that affect all of America, not because of the attention-grabbing marketing messages connected to these products.
Status symbols will change, but the circumstances leading to deaths like these most likely will not—unless we begin to see a drastic shift in a value system that places a premium on material objects, while ignoring the priceless value of life itself.
JAMES L. FALTINEK
President and CEO
National Sporting Goods Association
Mount Prospect, Ill.
I thought shop owner Wally Grigo's idea of having Jordan appear in commercials saying, "Drug dealers, don't you dare wear my shoes!" was fantastic.
THANE R. WALTON
Fountain Valley, Calif.
Richard Hoffer's article about Jerry West (Mister Clutch, Master Builder, April 23) brought back wonderful memories. To assist my musings about those great games between the Lakers and the Celtics, would you identify all the players in the 1963 photograph that ran with the story?
M. PAUL ZIMMERMAN
Chevy Chase, Md.
•From left to right: Tom Heinsohn (15), Rudy LaRusso (35), Elgin Baylor (22), Bill Russell (6, partially obscured), Satch Sanders (16), West (44, with ball), Gene Wiley (12), K.C. Jones (25) and Sam Jones (24).—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.