Congratulations to Dan Jenkins and Bob Ottum for their "just folks" reports on the Olympics (Breakneck Time in France, Feb. 19). We Olympic spectators are quick to place our heroes on pedestals even higher than those on which they receive their medals. It is good to know that Jean-Claude Killy is not some superbeing come down from Mount Olympus to lend glamour to the Games. It is good to know that he is cute, sweet and cuddly; that Peggy Fleming has human foibles—and runs in her stockings. Clumsies of the world rejoice! Of course, there are the members of the American Alpine team who, woefully, seem almost too human—but they keep trying, and, at the risk of sounding patriotic, that is a most admirable quality.
JUDITH F. PERRIN
Thanks for a most refreshing article on the paragon of American teen-agers, Miss Peggy Fleming. She and the other teens in Olympic Village—not those from Greenwich Village—are symbolic of our country's youth.
LIKE IT IS
Tex Maule has given us a unique insight into the thoughts and beliefs of Muhammad Ali (For Ali, a Time to Preach, Feb. 19). While I am no follower of the champ's teachings, I must respect him for continuing his religious studies in the face of severe criticism. I also wish to commend SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for continuing to recognize Muhammad Ali as World Heavyweight Champion.
RUSSELL C. JONES
It is a sad day in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S history when it condones, even by implication, actions that are contrary to this country's beliefs, heritage and ideology. Muhammad Ali seems to be able to change his name and religion overnight, and then he expects to be exonerated from the responsibility of being a citizen of the U.S. It appears that Mr. Maule and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED approve.
The Rev. Muhammad Ali was not designated by Allah to preach. He was appointed by his draft board to serve. Since he opposes all court orders, some action must be taken against him, but why do we not send him abroad where our military men are stationed and have him serve his country in the fashion he knows best by giving exhibitions of boxing. It would be wonderful entertainment for these deserving men. In addition, the Reverend could stay in shape for two or more years, and then he would be able to return and regain his crown.
PHILIP S. KHOURY
Pow! Pow! Muhammad Ali is still the heavyweight champion. Great going, Tex baby. Tell it like it is.
VIRGIL B. T. COMBS
The remarkable color photographs of Jim Barrows' head-over-heels pratfall in your February 19 issue were obviously selected in deference to the rulings of Avery Brundage. Your photographer has been careful to shoot them from an angle that deletes the manufacturer's labels on the skis in every shot. Considering that Mr. Barrows' flip encompassed every one of the 360 degrees in the circle he traversed, this is indeed an accomplishment.
CHARLES L. LYLE
Three cheers for every dart Dan Jenkins aimed at Avery Brundage in his February 19 report from Grenoble. To restrict competitive sports to the simon-pure amateur serves only to perpetuate sport as recreation for the rich. Men like Brundage, who perpetuate themselves in the political power circles of organized sport, do not speak for the great majority of American competitors. Mr. Brundage and his Olympic committees would better serve American sports by devoting their time to fund-raising, thus providing equal opportunity for the American teams that are struggling in the international arena. To the true sportsman, ability is the only valid measure of an athlete. The source of his income is irrelevant.
I still have a copy of your article A Question of the Soul (Aug. 15, 1960), but I think the time is ripe for SI to do another major article on "amateurism." If you do, take a good look at water skiing. It is one of the few truly "open sports" on the American scene. There are no pros, no amateurs—not even a definition of these terms in the rule books. There are good skiers and bad skiers. Period. And good competition. Isn't that what sport is all about?
Eastern Amateur Ski Assoc.
Lake Placid, N.Y.
P.S. I use Head and Rossignol skis, Lange boots, Prismatic poles, Nevada and Salomon bindings and Duofold underwear.
A very Brundage has said that the IOC would not tolerate open Olympics—that is, Olympics in which professionals could compete. Just who does Mr. Brundage think he's kidding? It takes an enormous amount of hard, cold cash for an athlete to properly prepare himself for the Olympics, but the Olympic rules state that he must not use his athletic skills to help defray costs if he expects to compete. This places unnecessary strains upon the athlete, because he must split every waking hour between his regular job and preparing for the Olympics.
What Mr. Brundage doesn't seem to understand is that there is a group of people other than the promoters and the pros who would benefit from the admittance of professionals to the Olympics—the spectators, who would then be seeing the greatest athletes in the world, and not merely a bunch of second-rate competitors. Granted, the skiers now competing are the best in the world, but what happens if Jean-Claude Killy "sells" his name to an American firm next year, thereby eliminating himself from Olympic and World Cup competition?
If Mr. Brundage and his stuffed-shirt buddies in the IOC really want to do something of lasting benefit for the Olympic Games, let them even things up and make the Games an open affair. Come one, come all, and may the very best man win.
I was never so proud of being a Canadian as I was when I watched the final Olympic hockey game where Canada lost to Russia by a score of 5-0. We all know that the Russian team is, by any standards except their own, a professional team, and our amateur team gave them one helluva game.
Mount Vernon, Wash.
About Alfred Wright's article on Bob Hope (Golf Is a Game of Hope, Feb. 12), thanks for the memory.