Dan Jenkins' O.K., Everybody: Beat America! (July 26) is a perfect example of the negative attitude so popular in America today. If the author feels that America is slipping in international sports, why doesn't he make some constructive suggestions instead of trying to downgrade American athletes, who are still winning a higher percentage of events in more diversified sports than any country in the world?
Beckenham, Kent, England
O.K., Everybody: Beat America! was one of the worst articles that you have printed. O.K., so maybe we are not the best in everything, but I'd like to see the Russians hit Koufax. I am aware of the fact that we are losing ground to the Australians in tennis, but what about their boxers? Even if the Germans continue to beat us in rowing, how do they do in bridge? The point I am trying to make is that we may not be the best in everything, but we are darned good.
New Rochelle, N.Y.
According to Dan Jenkins, today's young Americans are a bunch of lazy, no-good bums. I cannot agree. I am 14, am on the football and basketball teams, play golf and tennis, make straight A's and B's in school and work during the summer. I am not speaking about me alone, but hundreds of kids in my area. Sure, there are the snob-nosed rich kids and thugs who commit crimes, but this is just a small percentage.
I have an opinion only about bridge, as I am close to 83 years of age. But I play bridge almost every afternoon at my club and do more than hold my own.
New York City
Not all sports are being dominated by foreigners. Americans have long dominated the sport of horseshoe pitching. When contestants take to the courts in Keene, N.H. this week for the World Tournament, the top 36 contestants in the finals will probably consist of 35 U.S. citizens and one Canadian. At least 12 will average over 80% ringers.
If you will check the available records of every sport since 1776 I believe you will find America has a wide edge on total records held. America always will have an edge in sports.
THOMAS R. CARMODY
Isn't it a good thing that an athlete may now be born almost anywhere in the world, even in Ethiopia, and still get a chance to reach the top? And isn't it a good thing that more and more countries have world-beating athletes they can be proud of?
What do you expect the U.S. to do, concentrate on a few sports and stay amateur forever just for the sake of winning every major event we enter?
As an ancient oarsman (Princeton, vintage '57, lightweight at that), I would like to offer a couple of thoughts about American rowing.
First, since rowing is in many ways a science, I would suggest that permanent liaisons be established between college coaches and their university physics departments. It seems unlikely that the Germans or anyone else have yet achieved the mechanical ultimate in either equipment or methods of rowing, so there should be a lot yet to be discovered. Frankly, I would think that scientists are better equipped to begin rethinking some of the problems in rowing—e.g., could greater efficiency result if the position of the oar lock, the fulcrum of the oar (lever), were moved?—than the coaches. I would hope that a far wider and more analytical use is being made of movies today than it was when I was rowing. If not, it should be.
Second, I would suggest that we break present junior varsity eights into two fours (one with, one without coxswain). American rowing, as a whole, would undoubtedly benefit if boat clubs were invited to participate in collegiate regattas with some regularity. Furthermore, it seems somewhat unrealistic for the nation's colleges to hold their championship each summer, just prior to the international season, over a three-mile course when the international distances are about a mile and a quarter.
I realize that what I am suggesting would, if adopted, upset a few traditions. But I believe the most valuable tradition, in crew or in any other sport, is one of fierce competition. Harvard and Vesper, I gather, had faced no real competition before Henley this year. We can, and should, do better than that. Now that the rest of the world has decided to play the game as seriously as we do, we may never again enjoy the comparatively effortless dominance of eight-oared rowing of years past. But there is no reason why we cannot offer the world sterner competition than we do, in eights as well as the small boats.
ANTHONY L. FLETCHER
Your mention of our Kelso Fan Club (Rise of a New Star, Aug. 2) was such an unexpected pleasure! I've met so many club members in person this summer and they are all nice young people—not a "Beatle type" among them! In March we presented a blanket to Kelso, and what a wonderful time we had designing and planning the blanket—and Mrs. duPont's happy tears when she saw it made us so happy! People ask us what we shall do when Kelso retires permanently. Well, we know that we shall not be as active as we have been—growing up with him—but we shall go on loving him, and on certain dates of the year let Kelly and his folks know that he is truly horse of our hearts, forever.
VAS IST VASSS?
The ZIP code was criminal, exchangeless telephone numbers were unforgivable, but the Van Alen Simplified Scoring System (Anyone Care to Play Some VASSS?, July 19) is the biggest disaster to hit the American scene since electric golf carts.
Franklin Park, Ill.
Just how do you play VASSS? You mentioned 31 points as being a set, but how many sets to a match? Do you take turns serving? At what point do you switch ends of the court, or do you?
•Players change service every five points, changing courts after the fifth, 15th and 25th point. In the north court the player serves first from the left side, in the south court first from the right. Players may choose to play shorter (21 points to win) games or longer (41). A match may consist of two out of three or three out of five 31-point games, but in tournaments a single 31-point match is often chosen because it takes about a half an hour.—ED.
Here's a testimonial for Arnold Palmer's fine article (The Joys of Trouble. July 26). On the second hole A.P. (After Palmer) I pushed the ball into the right rough, where I found it up to its ankles in loose dirt. Oozing positive thinking and champing at the challenge. I plopped a perfect wedge 10 feet from the cup and holed the putt for a par 3. It works, sport fans! I don't enjoy getting into trouble, but at least now I enjoy getting out.
JOHN E. HAMMOND
On your cover, Arnold Palmer perfectly demonstrates a technique that I have been employing for years—close your eyes and swing!
C. STILES MARKEY
Now that you've published an article on "How to Get out of Trouble" by Arnold Palmer perhaps you would be interested in an article by me entitled "How to Get into Trouble." I must caution you that it would be of considerable length.
As refreshing as a cool summer breeze! Let's have more features like this one.
DENNIS R. HENDLEY
Whatever happened to that English racing greyhound you wrote about last January (Hi Joe, Where Are You?, Jan. 25)? Did they find him? I would appreciate it very much if you could tell me.
•Hi Joe's trainer Noreen Collin, who has traveled hundreds of miles in the last few months looking for her dog, shares this curiosity. She believes that Joe still lives, but she says, "Whether he is alive or dead, I would like to know what happened to him."—ED.