I felt that Tex Maule's article on the Western Conference of the NFL (Heated Pursuit of the Packers, Oct. 31) was fine, but he overlooked something in comparing Johnny Unitas and Bart Starr. Tex cites the fact that Starr's percentage of completions is slightly higher and that his percentage of interceptions is slightly lower than Unitas', and that these are both important statistics which give evidence of Starr's superiority. But statistics are often misleading. The Colts' ground game has never been as strong as the Packers", and Unitas, of necessity, must go to the air more often. Thus he is deprived of the element of surprise that Starr takes advantage of. When the going gets tough for the Colts, the burden falls on the arm of Unitas. When it gets tough for the Packers, it falls on the legs of Hornung and Taylor. So come on, Tex. Unitas hasn't fooled an entire nation for 10 years. If he has, he should get the movie contracts that Drysdale and Koufax aren't using.
The comparison of Bart Starr to John Unitas was apt, since Starr's exceptional ability is proved both by his personal statistics and those of the Packer team under his leadership.
If Unitas had the running support even of an Elijah Pitts, not to mention Hornung or Taylor, he would have the best percentage of all time. Starr has counted on the running game to establish his passing game, while Unitas has not had that advantage. I am a devout Bear fan and hate both the Packers and the Colts, so I would not be prejudiced in stating what everyone already knows—Johnny Unitas is and will always be Mr. Quarterback.
TOADS IN THE TYPE
Judging by his article on the Jose Torres-Chic Calderwood title fight in San Juan (Without Honor in His Own Land, Oct. 24), I'll wager 10 to five that Mark Kram has never seen a Puerto Rican cockfight or attended an Arthur Murray dance party. Ten will get you 20 that he can't spell coqui, even if one of those little toads croaks into his typewriter. Furthermore, the littering of rugs with assorted coins may bring Torres' trainer, Johnny Manzanet, some luck, but that doesn't make it a Puerto Rican custom. Mark Kram to the contrary, there are not many in Puerto Rico who enjoy the honor and popularity of Jose Torres—perhaps only Clemente, Cepeda and Carlos Ortiz.
ETIENNE Torn III
San Juan, P.R.
Mexico City has its seedy side—as do New York, Los Angeles and Skokie, Ill.—but, in his story about the Carlos Ortiz-Sugar Ramos fight (Cops and Robbers in Mexico City, Oct. 31), Mark Kram makes it look like the Black Hole of Calcutta. It is rather the Paris of the Western Hemisphere.
CHRISTOPHER S. COBB
Mark Kram should be congratulated for his outspoken condemnation of that obvious farce in Mexico City. I may not always agree with SI's opinions, but you can always be credited with making them known.
I also happened to notice in the picture of the wounded ring doctor (page 29) that he was wearing a somewhat large lapel pin with a Russian emblem in the center of it. What is the significance of this pin?
J. J. DALEHITE
Yorba Linda, Calif.
•The pin (below), the insignia of the Russian ski team, was given to Dr. Guilberto Bolanos Cacho by one of the Soviet physicians attending the Little Olympics held in Mexico City the week of the fight.—ED.
What a disappointment it was for me to pick up your October 31 issue and see my home state and alma mater held up to ridicule by humor boy Tom Brody (For Indians, It Was a Day to Bite the Dust). Brody made it appear that North Dakota State was a hick school that has been dominated all these years by a superior University of North Dakota. He also left the impression that it was a miracle for the State of North Dakota to have two nationally ranked teams, since it has nothing else of any worth. There is a good story between those clever gems of wit, but the average reader will miss it in his laughter, and the average North Dakotan will miss it in his rage.
No person can poke fun at North Dakota except a North Dakotan.
Fargo, N. Dak.
Wonderful, wonderful is all this native North Dakotan can say about Tom Brody's fine coverage of the annual UND-NDSU clash—even if the game did take a wrong turn in the final seconds for this UND alum.
How could Brody say that the University of Minnesota used to consider North Dakota a sort of private game reserve for players and then quote North Dakota's Dr. George W. Starcher as saying, "Darned if I know how we get enough boys for two good teams"? All it takes to figure that out is a little perusal of those Bison and Sioux varsity rosters. They reveal the names of 44 Minnesotans.
•For another Brody look at Dakota football., see page 75.—ED.
THE HIGH ROAD
As SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has pointed out in the article Way Up High and Out of Breath (Oct. 31), the effects of Mexico City's 7,500-foot altitude on the participating athletes' endurance will be a major factor in deciding the winners of the 1968 Olympic Games. According to the results of this year's Little Olympics in Mexico City, the best men at sea level were far from being the best at altitude, unless great runners like Jim Grelle and George Young are slipping. It must have been disheartening for them to be beaten by "relative unknowns," but did either of these fine athletes have the necessary preparation to do otherwise?
Numerous symposia, many on an international level, have been held to give scientists an opportunity to share ideas on the effects of altitude on athletic performance. We have invited foreigners here and have sent our best men abroad. The net result: most foreign countries are listening to the scientists' recommendations and are already trying them out on their athletes. In many instances, U.S. findings are being put to use in other countries as they prepare to shame us in middle-distance running.
Recently the International Olympic Committee passed a rule forbidding more than four weeks' training at altitude during the last three months prior to the Mexico Olympics, unless a competitor already lives at an "equivalent" altitude (SCORECARD, June 27). The loopholes are obvious, but how much do our athletes know about the alternatives available? Just suppose there is an accumulative effect to acclimatization, so that a few weeks this year and a few more next will help performances in Mexico City. Then suppose it turns out that a period of some weeks at sea level following an altitude acclimatization period doesn't cause loss of acclimatization. What if it even helps? Where does that leave the four-weeks-in-three-months people? And where does it leave the athletes who wait until 1968 to start acclimatizing? I only hope we haven't already fallen too far behind.
Let me also assure you that many of these unknowns are not so incapable. I spent two weeks with Alvaro Mejia of Colombia at the Bolivarian Games in South America last year. He was interested mainly in how Americans train and how we get such great middle-distance runners. Regardless of the fact that Mejia lives at an altitude over 8,000 feet, he is an exceptionally gifted athlete. He was extremely fast at 5,000, 10,000 and 1,500 meters in the Bolivarian Games in Quito, Ecuador (altitude near 10,000 feet), and he has moved into a threatening position for 1968 with his performance in this year's Little Olympics.
It would seem wise to choose the U.S. Olympic coaches now, to let them take advantage of collected scientific data and to participate in any future altitude studies, so they can see firsthand the reactions of our athletes at various stages of altitude acclimatization and be able to analyze the situation better.
Scientific researchers in the U.S. are offering an opportunity to find the answers to altitude training questions through technology. Let's hope that a win in the 1968 Olympics will mean that one athlete is better than another, not just that the loser was kept away from the facts too long.
JACK T. DANIELS
•Former Olympic Pentathlete Daniels has participated in several altitude studies.—ED.