Congratulations on Bill Russell's description of the recent summit meeting between Negro athletes and Muhammad Ali ("I Am Not Worried About Ali," June 19). It is unfortunate that you did not allow Russell's piece to appear without the preceding disclaimer in SCORECARD. There is indeed a difference between Protestants, Catholics and Black Muslims. But as far as I know, Muhammad Ali has never lowered himself to the level of some of the good Baptists of Birmingham or some of the good Catholics of Cicero, Ill. The point that needs to be made—and the point that Russell was making—is that there is a growing tendency in this country to judge people by their associations, rather than by their personal conduct. If the latter criterion is used, Muhammad Ali must certainly be accorded more respect than many, many Americans, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Moreover, SCORECARD'S implication that Ali's "victimization" is wholly due to his association with the Muslims is naive at best. If this were the case, why did the enlightened WBA wait until the "refusal to serve" issue arose before stripping Ali of his title? The war is indeed everywhere.
FREDERICK D. KEMP
This man is a minister? This man loves his fellowman so much that he cannot take up arms against the enemies of his country? "He has an absolute and sincere faith," says Bill Russell.
He tortured Ernie Terrell because Terrell would not call him Muhammad Ali. Knowing that Patterson had a back injury and that he could have knocked Patterson out in the first or second round, he took deliberate pleasure in carrying his pain-racked opponent to the 12th round just because that foe had expressed disagreement with his so-called religious views.
This man who owes all that he is to the guidance of a group of white men, upon arriving at the peak of his profession, sneeringly turned them aside.
In the only country in the world in which he, a Negro boy born in poverty, can become a millionaire, we find him unwilling to serve that country.
Newport Beach, Calif.
I respect Bill Russell, but I feel that in this case he can't see the forest for the trees. There is a broader scope to this issue—more than just a man's own beliefs. It involves honor to country and belief in the country where one lives. Ali's theory would appear to be "serve thyself" and Black Muslims, but not my country—not even in nonviolent ways by driving a truck, special services, etc. As a superathlete he could have had a choice of how he wanted to serve—and this is not the privilege of most.
As the father of a son who served in Thailand, another son who was recently commissioned a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, another who is in Officer's Candidate School and a fourth son who expects to enlist in September, I must protest any individual's attempts—regardless of color, creed or athletic accomplishments—to avoid military service by subterfuge.
Cassius Clay was originally exempted from military service because he failed Army intelligence examinations; i.e., he was supposedly mentally substandard. He did not claim, then, to be a Muslim minister.
Bill Russell now says, "One of the great misconceptions about Ali is that he is dumb and has fallen into the wrong hands and does not know what he is doing. On the contrary, he has one of the quickest minds I have ever known." I respect Bill Russell's appraisal.
JOHN L. BRITO
As a fan of both Bill Russell and SI, I was concerned about a paragraph in Bill's story that I think gave an erroneous impression of California's Governor Ronald Reagan. What Governor Reagan actually proposed during the campaign was not to take people off relief so they would have to find jobs, but to find jobs for those already on welfare. Bill Russell must agree that there is more dignity in a paycheck than in a relief check.
Having worked for the governor as a special assistant these past several months, and as a fellow professional athlete, I would like to point out to Bill and to SI readers one of the many positive problems faced by minorities. Governor Reagan has charged H. C. (Chad) McClellan, a Los Angeles industrialist, with the responsibility of directing a statewide program to develop job-training and opportunities for the disadvantaged. This is the same program that was so successful in the Watts curfew area, where 17,800 people were placed in productive jobs, helping to restore their self-respect and reducing the welfare rolls. This truly is a statewide "war on poverty" conducted within the framework of our private-enterprise economy, which is helping people to help themselves—the governor's theme of a Creative and Free Society.
I am sorry Bill Russell seems to have misunderstood Governor Reagan's real objectives and those of the voters of California.
JACK F. KEMP
Bill Russell is a self-professed student of Marxism and Black Muslimism. In his search to fill the void he feels within himself regarding a political philosophy, may I suggest he peruse the Constitution of these United States? I am sure he could speak from experience as to the benefits to be reaped from the applied philosophy of that document.
Mrs. JOHN J. LONG
Bill Russell's article is the best piece I have read in SI since I began subscribing several years ago. This article is not just a penetrating analysis of the plight of Muhammad Ali or the American Negro, rather it is a perceptive analysis of some of the deep, continuing problems in American society. By publishing such an article, SI rises above its role as simply reporter of the events in the world of sports and becomes a profound commentator on the plight of our times. Thank you.
AN ASTERISK RECORD?
Although it certainly was a great athletic accomplishment for Jack Nicklaus to establish a new U.S. Open record (Jack Delivers the Crusher, June 26), it does not erase the record set by Ben Hogan. Having yielded to the pressure of television, the USGA should nevertheless recognize Mr. Hogan's performance as being unequaled. When Ben won it, the Open was played as it should be—with 36 grueling holes on the final day.
My first visit to Santa Barbara, back in 1963, consisted of running a two-mile race in a track meet, mooching a meal at the Westmont College Commons—which Decathloner Dave Thoreson charged to someone—and a triple date in a Renault. John Underwood completely captures the personality and spontaneity of these athletes (Best-kept Secrets, June 12). However, no mention is made of Larry Melquiod, Santa Barbara's other nationally ranked decathloner, or of Jim Klein, a prime mover behind the growth of interest and talent in the area.
In 1960 Klein just missed the plane to Rome when he finished fourth in the Olympic decathlon trials. He came to Westmont College (enrollment 650) that fall as track and cross-country coach and built his teams into powerful units. Klein is at his best, though, in spotting athletes overlooked by "big-time" coaches and encouraging and developing them to their potential greatness. Olympians Herman, Thoreson, Melquiod and Shotputter Neil Steinhauer (now at Oregon) are good examples.
As I get ready to leave for a tour of duty in the land of the hot and humid, the lessons I learned under Coach Klein are the ones that stick.
2d LT. NOEL C. MONTRUCCIO, USA
Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.
UP BUT DOWN
As a longtime Boston Red Sox fan I applauded Jonathan Dubitzky's support of the Sox and Boston in his letter (19TH HOLE, June 26), but, unhappily, he is way off base when he says, "Boston is giving the club its usual wholehearted support." Attendance may be up this year, but from 1961 through 1966 our usual wholehearted support averaged only 812,000 per season, which is down 417,000 from the 1,229,000 that Fenway Park had averaged annually for the previous 15 years. It may be coincidence, but Ted Williams retired after the 1960 season. Unless we can find another Ted Williams quick, I think we'd better get a new stadium.
WILLIAM J. RYAN
Loved James Lipscomb's article on tennis elbow (Getting the Elbow Is a Pain, June 5). I have been a tennis pro for 12 years and cure roughly 24 bad elbows a season. Here is my list of normal causes of bad elbows and my respective treatments:
It is obvious that whatever the player has in terms of equipment I recommend the reverse. I have lost only one elbow in my tenure, and my sales and teaching schedule are at an optimum.
Highland Park, Ill.
I am 77 years old, and I play tennis almost every day, winter, spring and summer. Back in the middle '20s I had tennis elbow so bad I was almost forced to quit. One day, after a particularly exhausting club match, someone in the locker room said, "Bob, I'll bet you don't have strength enough left to chin yourself." Well, I tried to and did pull myself up several times and, believe it or not, my tennis elbow was better. In fact, it was so much better that I installed a chinning bar in my home, and I do pull-ups every day.
ROBERT S. DELAPENHA
The article Love and Hate and a Very Fast Hundred by Pete Axthelm (June 5) was as out of place in your fine magazine as a fold-out nude. Texas Southern's fine track team certainly deserves more space than Mr. Axthelm gave it, and the city of Houston deserves a more objective, more responsible editorial than that which was neatly inserted in this supposed article on track.
Police brutality is a very serious charge, and it is especially shocking when it appears in a magazine like SI. Mr. Axthelm reports that at 3:15 on the morning of May 17 a number of track men were yanked from their beds and taken to a police station to be questioned in connection with the death of a policeman. He also quotes Coach Wright as saying that his track men were all asleep and didn't know what was going on. He further quotes track man Evans as saying that "they beat us up a little" and "some guys had been pulled out of a shower and just had towels around them, but the cops wouldn't let them go back and put pants on. It was humiliating."
To those of us who followed this very unfortunate incident at TSU it is obvious that Pete Axthelm told a very slanted, one-sided story. Why didn't he include the facts that a gun battle raged between police and students for several hours before police broke into the dorms and that a policeman was indeed shot and killed and several others wounded in the riot? The bullets that killed and wounded the policemen came from the dormitory.
Coach Wright should be complimented, perhaps, on the iron discipline which he must maintain on his team if his kids could sleep through such an episode—but what about that guy taking a shower at 3:15 a.m.?
Quit editorializing, and get back to your standards of responsible sports reporting.
Sell better equipment
Strings too tight
Strings too loose
Sell series of lessons