Although I enjoyed Professor McCormick's sprightly article (Score One for Today's Students, May 20), I take vigorous exception to several of his assertions.
I cannot agree that sports have only lately become popular with what he calls student and graduate intellectuals. I believe he confuses interest in sports with objections to exploited big-time varsity competition. I believe big-time varsity programs were, are and always will be condemned by some intellectuals who consider them to be incompatible with a college's mission. Furthermore, I believe that another group—not classifiable as intellectuals—has been traditionally critical of certain aspects of big-time sports, namely, the relatively affluent and sophisticated students who look down their patrician noses at culturally inferior scholarship athletes.
The professor equates the intellectuals of the '30s with leftists. I can't buy that. Most true intellectuals were not and are not leftists, and most leftists were not and are not true intellectuals. They only think they are.
The professor's concluding paragraph foresees a realization of the oft-quoted platitudes of famous coaches as to the "benefits of sport." I believe he confuses the evidence. Such coaches are usually defending highly emphasized varsity competition. This has nothing whatever to do with the present vogue of jogging or individual fitness in general. To the great majority of us, big-time sports are no more and no less than entertainment. This is a sedentary activity that, indeed, tends to preclude exercise. The true athletic enthusiast is interested in personal fitness. He endorses universal athletic participation.
JOHN F. HEINZ
Congratulations on the fine article on the Old Blues (Old Blue Slashes 'em Again, May 20). They are indeed an outstanding Rugby club. In fact, last year in that same University of Virginia tournament we were beaten by the Old Blues 6-0.
We feel, however, that one small point was left out of the article; on April 20 the Old Blues came to the academy for our annual match. Perhaps they were looking ahead of our game toward the future and the Commonwealth Cup, but they left West Point that day beaten 9-8 for their only loss this year. While our record hardly compares with theirs this season, we feel this victory at least merits mention in your magazine, for it has been quite some time since a college Rugby team has beaten the Old Blues at the game they traditionally dominate on the East Coast.
ROBERT M. KIMMITT
Army Rugby Football Club
Over the last few years the Old Blue Rugby Football Club has been the winningest side in the East, and probably the best in the country. But in that period some observers thought they noted some of the traits your reporter described, i.e., biting an opponent's ear, playing to the edge of the laws and winning at any cost.
This sort of attitude is central to nearly all professional and most college and amateur sports in America today, but such an attitude has no place in Rugby. Players who clothesline or throw a cross-body block in Rugby are sent off the field for dangerous play, and they are reported to the governing union. There is no place in Rugby for doing anything to the laws except play well within them. Rugby also stands for the proposition that a match won "at any cost" is a loss for everyone.
Old Blue won our Commonwealth Cup for the second straight year, just beating a larger, numerically superior and hungry Virginia team by exhibiting superior experience and real grit. It would not be fair to this fine team to characterize its play as vicious or its attitude as anything less than that required by the spirit, as well as the letter, of the laws of the game, for there was none of that in them.
EMIL A. KRATOVIL JR.
Field Captain 1967-68
Virginia Rugby Football Club
We were most pleased with your excellent coverage of the Commonwealth Cup tournament at Virginia. We at Williams sincerely hope that in the future you will expand your coverage of the sport. We do, however, have one correction to make. Old Blue did win the competition on the field, but off the field they were decided losers. By 10 Saturday night the Old Blues were conspicuously absent from the party. The party winners, doing somewhat better there than when in uniform, were the Williams ruggers. Alas, teams that have a reputation to protect must make some "sacrifices," and Old Blue did, losing one title while admirably retaining another.
GATES H. HAWN
JOHN R. ROWLAND
HARVEY A. LEVIN
In the SCORECARD item entitled "No Bargain" in the May 20 issue, SI stated that the Oakland Athletics had issued a policy requiring servicemen to pay full price for tickets to the A's 1968-69 home games. This policy was confirmed by Mr. Val Binns, the A's public relations director, in a telephone conversation with me on May 3, and it remained in effect through May 7. However, on that date, or the day after, Mr. Binns called me, as SI's special correspondent in San Francisco, to tell me that the A's officials had held a meeting and the policy had been revised. Servicemen are now admitted to Oakland home games at half the price of any regular ticket on presentation of their military identification cards. They need not be in uniform. Wounded military men recovering in nearby hospitals are admitted free of charge.
I was very pleased to read the article on Sonny Liston (What's Become of the Big Bear? May 13). Please convey congratulations to Jack Olsen on an excellent story that gives a great fighter, and maybe one of the greatest, the respect that he deserves.
It seems somehow out of place that I feel I should say I'm a white man, but somehow I don't think that matters to Mr. Liston. What I think does matter is that I have been following his career since the beginning, not only his fights in the ring but his struggle to survive outside of it. Although I'm a little far away to see the Big Bear fight again, count on me to be in his corner.
And someday let me shake the hand of the man who will give Sonny the job he can do so well: working with the kids.
I would like to congratulate Jack Olsen. This is the first article I've read on Liston that did not make him seem like a buffoon. But even though I admire Liston, I don't think he can make a successful comeback for the championship.
New York City
Rather than feeling stung and hurt over Hugh Whall's recent article about multihulls (Hey, Ho and Up She Rises, May 6), multihullers and would-be multihullers alike should really applaud his coverage of the subject, because it contains some important notions. Having been extensively quoted in the article, I believe it permissible for me to emphasize and modify some of the points made.
I must first strongly support Whall's statement that the trouble with multihulls may be not in the craft but, rather, in those who sail them. To my mind the prerequisites for safe multihull sailing include knowledge of the limitations of the individual craft's construction. In attempting to obtain strength with lightness a multihull designer can overshoot on lightness at the expense of strength. Only by testing the craft in the open ocean can one calibrate the proper design criteria. The most important requirement, of course, is responsibility. The story I told about the hand in Honolulu was meant to illustrate the point that it was irresponsible and foolhardy of me to assign the mainsheet of my catamaran to the care of a novice.
One other point that neither I nor the Ocean Racing Catamaran Association (ORCA) will let Mr. Whall get away with without comment is the idea that the reputation of multihulls or multihullers hangs on the doings of Eric Tabarly. Like Jim Kilroy, Tabarly is a superb monohuller; as a multihuller he is merely a novice from out of town, which makes him no expert. Rather, it would be better to pin the reputation of multihulls on the exploits of the 44-foot, C/S/K designed World Cat (Jurgen Wagner, skipper), which has just returned to California from a 30,000-mile circumnavigation of the world. Her crew of two broke many passage records, while surviving several truly awesome storms. Also worth mentioning are the thousands of ocean-racing miles safely put away by ORCA's 20-boat fleet during the past 10 years.
A. VICTOR STERN
Seal Beach, Calif.
Your note on the sensational revival of the supposedly extinct metasequoia in the Pacific Northwest (SCORECARD, May 6) was of interest to conservationists as another striking example of the recuperative power of nature. But you left out a spectacular example of the growth of this fascinating tree. John Ulrich, writing in the Seattle Argus, tells of a metasequoia in the Hoyt Arboretum in Portland that reached a height of 42 feet, growing 36½ feet in the last 10 years. And even backyard gardeners report metasequoia growing three to five feet a year without expert care.