How can you pick the Russians over the Americans in Olympic basketball (Mexico 68, Sept. 30)? True, the Russians have several big men, but I'll stick with the U.S., with the U.S.S.R. second and Brazil or Yugoslavia third.
JOSEPH POWESKA JR.
I hope you won't think I'm against the U.S.—or any other country in the Olympics—but as a resident of Colombia, South America for 8½ years I think I have the right to tell you that your rating in the cycling events is all wrong. Wait till you see Colombia's team.
In your analysis of likely candidates to win the 800-meter event at the Olympic Games, there is no mention of Ireland's Noel Carroll. Keep an eye on this dark horse—he will be there at the finish.
Your coverage of the U.S. Olympic Trials at Echo Summit was, as usual, excellent (Triumph and Tragedy at Tahoe, Sept. 23). However, in mentioning the many heroes and disappointments of the trials, you failed to recognize one of the most exciting and significant aspects: the fact that at least two of the members of the U.S. track and field team will have to take time away from their high school classes in order to participate! I refer to High Jumper Reynaldo Brown and Pole Vaulter Casey Carrigan. To the best of my knowledge only one other Olympic competitor from the U.S. has reached this pinnacle at such an early age: Jim Ryun.
•The parents and friends of U.S. Olympic gymnasts, not to mention swimmers, might disagree (see below).—ED.
You goofed and you are now in for a typical parent's reaction. On page 48 of your Sept. 30 issue you pictured 15-year-old Cathy Rigby as the youngest gymnast on the U.S. team. Not so. Our 15-year-old daughter, Diane Bolin born Jan. 28, 1953, is the youngest. Cathy Rigby was born Dec. 12, 1952. So there you have it.
The girls are good friends and roomed together at Camp Richardson, South Lake Tahoe. The team flew to Denver on Oct. 3 for uniform fittings and then on to Mexico. Naturally, we (the proud parents) will be in Mexico City for the Olympics.
SALUTES AND SALVOS
I greatly enjoyed Tex Maule's article, The Young Generals (Sept. 30). I was glad to see that Mr. Maule recognized the great potential of Ram Quarterback Roman Gabriel to become the next Johnny Unitas. I enjoyed the article so much, I almost forgave him for placing the Colts over the Rams in his Coastal Division predictions (Pro Football, Sept. 16).
Culver City, Calif.
Tex Maule dispensed with Fran Tarkenton much too hastily. Even granting that statistics alone do not provide the surest guide for appraising quarterback excellence, consider the fact that Tarkenton, at only 28 and despite having played with the relatively weak Vikings and Giants, has already become 1) the fifth-ranking quarterback on the alltime-leading-passer list, and 2) the fourth best (to Unitas, Jurgensen and Starr) statistically among quarterbacks for the last seven years. It is difficult to comprehend why Tarkenton is not heralded as a superstar quarterback, instead of being praised as simply an exciting scrambler.
GARY C. KARSHMER
May I ask why Mr. Maule continues to ignore Sonny Jurgensen? He states in the Sept. 30 issue that Bart Starr is the only quarterback considered the equal of Johnny Unitas. In the season's preview Mr. Maule said that Washington's passing records were deceiving. It seems to me that the more passes a quarterback has to throw the harder it is for him to keep up good percentages. Surely this is true of Sonny Jurgensen. He must throw no matter what situations are confronting him, because of a nonexistent running attack. If Jurgensen had the offensive line and defensive teams that Starr and Unitas have, he would undoubtedly surpass them, if he has not already. Please give No. 9 a chance!
I do believe the only reason I subscribe to your magazine is to get my ulcers aggravated by your NFL-minded writer, Tex Maule. For eight years Tex has knocked the AFL from goalpost to sideline. Now that the AFL is in its ninth and probably greatest year, Tex has decided to bury his head in the sand as if we didn't exist. In six pages of script and photos there is not even one aside acknowledging the fact that the young AFL has potentially the greatest crop of future quarterback stars—and superstars—in the history of pro football.
A football writer can ignore acknowledged pros like Joe Namath, Daryle Lamonica, Len Dawson and John Hadl, but how can he overlook the potential greatness of the kids in the league—Bob Griese, John Stofa, Pete Beathard and our own Dan Darragh? I'm sure that if Tex had been writing football in the late 1940s, he would also have overlooked Otto Graham and Frankie Albert of the old All America Conference, which terrorized the NFL for years.
We in the AFL do not expect writers to go overboard for our league, our teams or our personnel, but we do expect that a knowledgeable football expert will occasionally glance in our direction and admit that we do have a football—and that there are a few people in the league who can move it!
How could you possibly publish an article purporting to feature the best young quarterbacks in pro football and nowhere mention Beathard, Griese, Namath or Lamonica?
With the exception of Tarkenton, the quarterbacks you tout as stars of the future are privates compared to the AFL's young generals.
ANGELO F. CONIGLIO
Yes, Tex, there is an American Football League.
WAYNE A. ROZEN
TIGER IN THE TOWN
Although I enjoyed his article on football at LSU (A Big Night in a Li'l Ol' Town, Sept. 30) more than any I've ever read in SI, I feel that William Johnson enjoyed the game but not the town. Baton Rouge will never be a New Orleans, but it does have a fine night life, thanks to thousands of people who know how to enjoy themselves even when LSU isn't playing football. Of course, the spirit at an LSU game is the greatest in the world. The enthusiasm of the students is something no one will believe unless he sits in the student section. However, Governor McKeithen is not quite the hick Mr. Johnson made him out to be.
Fort Hays, Kans.
Mere words can't describe the greatness of the LSU Tigers or express our feelings about them, but William Johnson gave it a pretty good try! Thanks.
I would like to commend you on your College Football Issue (Sept. 9). It gave a most accurate description of the season. A number of your readers seemed to disagree with your No. 1 pick of Purdue. After what the Boilermakers did to Notre Dame, I don't see how there can be any dispute.
St. Albans, W. Va.
O.K., Dan Jenkins, what's the idea? Purdue came to our Notre Dame Stadium, played very well and beat us. Does this give you the right to malign the spirit, both past and present, of our school? You went out of your way to give one of the most deleterious reports of a game that I have ever read. The Notre Dame team put forth a commendable effort, not the kind that makes the reader feel that they didn't even belong on the field. The spirit of the students and friends of Notre Dame is the greatest of any school, anywhere, and it's certainly not to be ridiculed. Reprisals are in the offing, man!
DENNIS M. NIGRO
Notre Dame, Ind.
John Underwood's story on Kenya's Olympic track program (Lost Laughter, Sept. 30) was ne plus ultra in more ways than one. Having spent 35 days in Africa last summer (several days in Nairobi, in Nyeri at the Outspan and in Masai land), I know that the article described to perfection the scenes we experienced. To this former track coach a highlight of the trip was a visit to Kamosinga Friends Boys School, some 150 miles out of Nairobi (near Kimilili), where we saw 200 boys in a track meet. Though the quarter-mile track was an undulating grass affair (the six lanes were marked with a black, tarry substance), times were excellent, but the English coaching left much to be desired and was a far cry from what we have in our high schools and colleges. Only three or four of the runners wore track shoes, and the lone timer's watch, an antique, registered in fifths of seconds. But don't write Kenya off re future stars; the state is full of them. Time is all they need—and equipment. We passed several schools on the road and noted that there was always track activity in the grassy fields. The material is there.
One Sunday near Nairobi we saw two busloads of kids returning from a track meet they had won. As they stopped in a village, three of their teachers held up the victory plaques while the kids cheered for several minutes. One would have thought they had won the Olympics from the smiling faces. My guess is that it won't be long before there are as many track stars as there are Jomo Kenyatta portraits in the state, and, as Underwood said, the place is flooded with them.
Oak Park, Ill.
I nominate Coach Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics as SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's Sportsman of the Year 1968. Bill is the greatest athlete in America and in the world today. In fact, he has been the greatest for the last decade and more. At the absolute least he ranks with those athletes we call "our immortals."
H. C. BROWN JR.
I hope you recognize Jean-Claude Killy as the Sportsman of the Year because he dominates his sport as no one else ever has.
On page 15 of your Sept. 23 issue you display a photograph of Tennessee's Gary Kreis being tackled at the goal line. The accompanying caption reads: "Tennessee's Kreis almost loses the ball as he falls into the end zone after catching pass at game's end" (A Rouser on a Rug). Then on page 17 the description of the same play reads, ambiguously: "Kreis grabbed the ball at the one-yard line, felt it slipping sickeningly from his grasp as he fell into the end zone on his back and then had it again when he hit the Tartan."
My somewhat puzzled impression from watching the original play, then the slow-motion rerun and then a normal-speed rerun on television is that the reason Kreis had the pass "again when he hit the Tartan" is because the ball had bounced off the Tartan and back into his hands as he lay there. It was also my impression that Kreis did not have control of the pass as he fell, so that the pass was never completed. Your picture supported my impression, since it would seem impossible for any normal athlete to regain control of a ball he has clearly lost control of some four inches from the surface of the playing field without having it touch the ground and then bounce back into his hands.
The tiny bounce that the ball took was almost imperceptible to the eye at normal speed. It was only after I had seen the slow-motion replay that I became aware of it. I feel like the man in the old Philadelphia Bulletin ads. No one else seemed to notice.
New York City
Tell Dan Jenkins that God did not "blow it" when He gave us grass. How healthy would our animals be if they grazed on Tartan Turf for a few weeks? Does Mr. Jenkins think grass has been waiting all these countless ages for the very recent sport of football?
In reference to your article on Tennessee's Tartan "rug" I have a question. What would be the effect of a flaming baton if it were inadvertently dropped on this wonderful surface? I wonder whether the 3M Company foresaw this circumstance when it developed Tartan Turf.
•Indeed it did and so did the Monsanto Company, the maker of Astro-Turf. Neither surface will support combustion, but both—like any nylon rug—will melt.—ED.
GYMNAST DIANE BOLIN