Vive SPORTS ILLUSTRATED! And vive le Tour de France (A Nation's Midsummer Madness, Aug. 22)! Your way of covering the lesser-known sports certainly appeals to the many nonbaseball-basketball-football-oriented fans. Jack Olsen's article on the world-famous bicycle classic presented an interesting and amusing insight. Those of us who are active in cycling here in the U.S. agree with the statement: "Bicycle racers are 15 years ahead of other sportsmen. They are the most intelligent of athletes." We feel that they are also among the most dedicated and persevering of our athletes. Each summer the Amateur Bicycle League of America conducts road championships in each state, which are up to 120 miles in length. When you throw in a 95° July sun, steaming pavement, muscle-torturing climbs and 50-mile-an-hour descents, you've got to be truly dedicated to your sport to love it. Unlike the Tour de France, however, our gallery of fans is often composed of a couple of curious cows, a dog or two and, maybe, a startled chicken.
Jack Olsen deserves the maillot jaune for his story of the 1966 Tour de France. Bike racing is relatively unknown in the U.S., except for a small minority of enthusiasts. Our enthusiasm is strong, but Olsen's article has aroused it to fever pitch.
President, Akron Cycling Club
So Jackie Stewart can drive a race car (When You're No. 2 You Drive Harder, Aug. 15). Swell! So Jackie Stewart has clean fingernails. Well, let me clue him in. So does A. J. Foyt. As for finesse and delicacy, I must agree that A.J. is a little lacking but, oh, boy, can he drive a race car.
I think Mr. Stewart is wrong in stating that men like Foyt cannot handle a rear-engine car because they lack sensitivity. I think if A.J. had the understanding and the experience that the British drivers have of the newer rear-engine cars he could beat Jackie Stewart any day.
MRS. JAMES HANSENFUS
I was very pleased that a story was done about me. However, I think Writer Robert Daley misunderstood my point of view regarding certain matters.
I have always been very pleased to be associated with Graham Hill on the BRM team. I have a great admiration for him. As for A. J. Foyt, I consider him to be one of the truly great race drivers in the world. If nothing else, I have learned one thing: great drivers can drive most any type of car, and I would certainly not want to take anything away from Mr. Foyt. But, naturally, American drivers have had to make many adjustments in driving technique for the type of cars used at the Indianapolis 500 today. They are like sports cars when compared to the roadster-type machines formerly used.
As for my success, financially, in the short period that I have been driving, I can only say that I have had some good advice from friends and am certainly in no position to say, as was implied, that I probably am the most successful young driver to ever come along. I enjoy racing tremendously—on the Grand Prix circuit and at Indy. I have been treated splendidly by the people at Indianapolis, and I only hope that I will have the opportunity to compete there again in the future.
Milton, Dumbarton Scotland
It would be interesting to know the mental age and IQ of the guy who wrote the editorial on Cassius Clay and the Beatles (SCORECARD, Aug. 22). What "public," aside from the high school crowd, has been so marvelously "entertained" by the Beatles, a combo that cannot carry a tune but only shout?
And who has been so marvelously entertained by Clay in his series of fights, which were anything but well matched?
Your assumption that these people should be allowed to shoot off their mouths at will while everyone else sits back and says, "Isn't that cute?" is ridiculous. In my opinion a true celebrity carries himself with pride and dignity, not boastfully and pompously.
FREDERICK W. DAU JR.
Clearwater Beach, Fla.
I thoroughly enjoyed Ed Zern's amusing article, Something Was Fishy About Stonehenge (Aug. 22). It has to be one of the more humorous fishing articles ever written. Of course, I don't believe that Mr. Smythe-Preston does exist or, rather, did exist, but drat! I wish his wife hadn't killed him!
JOHN A. SPANGLER
Thank you for your very excellent coverage of Jim Ryun's, America's and the world's fastest mile ever (July 25 and Aug. 1). It was a magnificent performance, and we are all very proud of him.
Track and field is currently undergoing a dynamic and dramatic change, and Jim Ryun is the pacesetter of the new breed of athletes who are spearheading this change. Contributors to this revolution with Ryun are Gerry Lindgren, Randy Matson and Bob Seagren—to name just a few.
The records will continue to fall as these dedicated athletes continue their pursuit of excellence. They train long and hard, and they know no artificial barriers of the mind. Gone are the four-minute mile, the 60-foot shotput, the seven-foot high jump and the 16-foot pole vault. We are just now learning what the human body can do. It is a startling and wonderful revelation. If we maintain this attitude (and I believe we shall), we will, indeed, witness the sub-3:30 mile.
•As a former two-mile record holder and the first man to run a sub-four-minute mile indoors, letter writer Beatty has done some world-shaking himself.—ED.
As usual, you have gone behind the headlines of a great sports achievement and told us something about the man. Those three minutes and 51.3 seconds on July 17 undoubtedly changed Jim Ryun's life as will no other similar time period in his entire life.
However, one fact that interests me and that was not reported by Gwilym Brown relates to Ryun's age. Surely no other runner has held the coveted world-mile record at the young age of 19. Right or wrong?
ROGER A. DERBY
•Right. Herb Elliott, who was 20 when he set the record in 1958, is the second youngest.—ED.
ONE MAN'S FANCY
A resounding amen to William Leggett's article on major league scheduling (The Long, Long Season, Aug. 15). However, I believe he actually understated the case for a major revision of what is now an NBA-like shambles.
I am, simply, a fan whose love for baseball dates back to my first visit to the Polo Grounds in 1933. I have no official connection with the game in any way. However, many years ago I began to wonder how the schedules were prepared, and as a hobby and an exercise in logistics I began voluntarily to try my own hand at the job. Naively I wrote to the two leagues each year to offer my handiwork, honest in my belief that I had found ways to avoid some of the anomalies that Leggett has noted.
The results were amazing. On one occasion I received a Warren Giles rejection letter downgrading my work because in the NL schedule I had indicated night games and thus deprived the owners of their prerogative! On another occasion Giles's rejection was based on the fact that there was one section of my schedule that called for St. Louis to be away from home on three consecutive Sundays. (There are at least six such incidents in the NL this year.) Finally, when I attempted to submit a schedule that eliminated Leggett's specific complaint, i.e. visiting Houston in the middle of a West Coast trip (thus creating close to 3,000 miles of extra travel for each of six teams), I was curtly advised that the NL way was the better and that I might as well stop wasting Mr. Giles's time.
I have no ax to grind other than a desire to have the job done in the best possible manner. I have already prepared three alternate versions of the 1967 schedules, which I truly believe represent improvements over the existing travel-happy, shoehorned and patchwork programs. I have avoided entirely the question of interleague scheduling—not because I don't approve of it or because it couldn't be done, but simply because I find it hard to believe that the men who can't straighten out a one-league schedule would care to get involved in still further complications.
I cannot and do not ask your help. I am in no way a martyr or a crackpot; I've lost nothing, but I have to believe that baseball has.
ERIC N. COMPTON
OUT OF THE WOODS
Concerning Barbara La Fontaine's two-part article on the Outward Bound School for girls (Babes in the Woods, July 11 and 18), I was one of those girls, and I think Barb did a wonderful job. Her conclusions are perfect—and very perceptive. But there is one thing I would like to clarify for all the Digby Butler Whitmans in the world. Mr. Whitman wrote (19TH HOLE, Aug. 1) that our solo survival was not survival, but fasting. He wonders what happened to the Camp Fire Girls.
Maybe that three-day survival was only a period of fasting for some of us girls. I know that it was for me. We knew that we couldn't die in three days, and we knew that we would be picked up again. But the emphasis was not primarily on survival—it was on being solo.
Before this, students had had to face situations that demanded teamwork. The solo survival was just another step in the Outward Bound challenge. To some of the girls it was the biggest challenge. Mr. Whitman said that it did not prove that we girls could "stay alive in the woods without help." Right. It didn't. It wasn't supposed to do that. It wasn't supposed to prove anything. Just sitting out there alone—no radio, no TV, no friends, no food, no shelter strips a girl down to what she is. She will probably see what she is—perhaps for the first time—and feelings of adequacy and worth may develop.
In 10 years with the Camp Fire Girls I have learned a lot. In one month at Outward Bound I learned more—more about me, more about other people. The two organizations cannot be compared.
Outward Bound is not something that everyone appreciates during the course—some go so far as to say they hate it. It is something that grows on you, and this summer I went back as a staff trainee, so that some day I can help other girls who will go back to their homes and find—as I did—that they no longer fit into the same old groove and that they like the new one better.
Reader Brian Daly (19TH HOLE, Aug. 15) is talking through his hat when he says soccer "is the fastest growing sport in America today," and "it will...enhance America's international prestige." We have too much prestige now. It's killing us. As for soccer, I saw the World Cup final from London on TV only because it was raining here and no good for "bean-hunting," my favorite weekend sport on the south Florida beaches.
Soccer will never go over big in the U.S. because it's too fast. No time to hawk hot dogs in the stands or deodorant to TV viewers. It's dull and boring to watch. The uniforms have no glamour. There's no half-time show, no sex appeal, no Flipper in a tank, no closeups of scantily clad, leggy young things prancing to swinging bands. No benches, no substitutions, no cigar chomping, grim-faced gents in snap-brim hats pacing up and down the sidelines and no time-outs while Mickey Mantle gets up to shave.
Soccer was popular in British-oriented areas of this country years ago, along with cricket, mumblety-peg, lacrosse, drop-the-handkerchief and croquet. But the Carlisle Indians and Pop Warner changed all that, thank goodness.
West Palm Beach, Fla.