Wow! That article, The World's First Peace Pentathlon (May 11), has got to be the most revolutionary you've written. I mean it changes SI's whole outlook on sport and competition. Great! Jones & Smith (Robert F. and David Winnie-the-Pooh Miln) really put one together.
I am a little disappointed in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's ability to defend competition, which David Smith so poorly put down. Amidst the biggest fields of competitors there is the greatest sense of love and admiration for the opponent. When this feeling is lost, then we are talking about war and materialistic gain, which I am afraid our Mr. Smith is confusing with athletic competition. Ask Jim Ryun and Martin Liquori about competition. Each has become a better miler because of the other. I say this is one of the greatest examples of mutual admiration. We can make ourselves believe anything in our own minds, but when we allow ourselves to be confronted by our competitors—friends, equalizers or whatever—we gain insight to the facts that we can be wrong and that we can always do better. If David Smith were a true athlete he would be smart enough to know that athletic competition makes a lot of us better than we are, and that an athlete learns through his mistakes.
Re The World's First Peace Pentathlon, I should like to make the following observations:
1) Smith's anticompetition stand smacks dangerously of "Do-your-own-thing-but-conform-to-my-eccentricities";
2) As for his claim that the Greeks supported violence by their games, may I point out in respect to his events that all our military services use parachutes; Navy Seals scuba dive and swim distance; soldiers have always run (training); and, finally, no virtue can be claimed to exist logically among a motorbike, its rider and his environment;
3) Competition in man seems to be far more inherent than capitalistically derived.
MICHAEL EDWARD O'DONNELL
Not enough was said in your article about Dave's Boy Scout work. As a member of Troop 17 in San Francisco, he became the youngest eagle scout in California. He has more than 50 merit badges. Whenever he returns to San Francisco he takes time out to attend scout meetings and to instruct boys in swimming and water safety.
STEVEN A. ISRAEL
HORSES AND TIGERS
The Kentucky Derby (A Command Performance, May 11) is considered to be the pinnacle of horse racing. Other races may be older or richer, but the Derby is considered the top. It is unfortunate that Robert Lehmann, owner of 1970 Derby winner Dust Commander, cares more for a tiger than a horse who had the stamina, skill and speed to be first at the end of "heartbreak lane," a place shared with such greats as Swaps, War Admiral, Citation, Whirl-away and others. Mr. Lehmann should be told that, while tigers are in abundance, Kentucky Derby winners number exactly 96.
Robert Lehmann is boastful of his various tiger kills. While one may be excused, since the tiger was a man-killer, the others were killed for sport. Doesn't Mr. Lehmann know that tigers are an endangered species?
I assume your May 4 article on Secretary of the Interior Walter Hickel (The Earth as Seen from Alaska) was intended to be the most biting piece of satire since Gulliver's Travels. If so, you very cleverly converted the Secretary's mock views into serioheroic statements. If SI was not doing straight line for Mr. Hickel, then we are right back where we started from: watching Hickel fiddle while Earth burns.
WILLIAM C. GUDAL
I enjoyed Pat Ryan's article about Secretary Hickel. It beats me how she could have gotten all that down in the plane when it was so dark and so crowded.
I believe I have a method of eliminating fights in hockey. Whenever a fight breaks out, officials should allow the combatants to slug it out as long as they deem it necessary to display their manhood. Ridiculous? Not at all: let me explain.
First, it is my belief that many players accept the challenge of the dropped gloves solely because they know that the fight will be stopped quickly and their chances of being kayoed are very slim. If the players knew that all fights would be to the finish, without interference, they might be a little more reluctant to involve themselves in such meaningless bouts. Secondly, I think the players would begin to feel a little foolish about continually interrupting play with brawls that would go on indefinitely and would drain them of considerable amounts of energy. Who knows, even the fans might become bored and begin to boo the players, demanding that they get back to playing a little...uh...what's the name of that game again?
Your article, A Brief Search for America (May 4), struck me as being an attempt to justify the kind of small-town mentality that degrades and will ultimately ruin high school athletics. I spent my high school years in a town of fewer than 3,000 and feel compelled to speak out against the people who make school games a matter of life and death.
It begins with a coach who makes a living bullying 16-year-olds because he cannot or will not cope with the adult world. Usually with the approval of parents, he tells the players that they have to become "men"; that to be gentle is to be inferior ("Hit him harder, Mama's boy"). When a team of championship caliber develops, members of the community begin telling the "stars" how important each game is to the town. The school principal urges the students to "support our team" and to "show school spirit." Pressures developed by the coaches, parents, community and schoolmates become totally out of line with the stated reasons for having interschool athletics. The slogan "Show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser" has no place in an American high school.
John Underwood's article on sports participation in small-town America was really outstanding. To me, he illuminated the true essence, pleasure and lifetime value of an interest in sports. I'd like to see more such stories.
THOMAS C. EMMEL
Underwood says Lewistown, Mont. claims to have "the finest drinking water in the world." It is 99.8% pure. Evidently they have never heard of Deming, N. Mex., which gets its water supply from an underground river. This water is 99.9% pure and this Southwestern city is correct in claiming the "purest, finest-tasting water anywhere."
I don't want to pick your article to pieces, but I feel that credit should go where it is truly due.
Oil Center, N. Mex.
•In a lecture on the often meaningless slogans of advertising, Harvard's political scientist Arthur Holcombe once declaimed: "Here is a soap that says it is 99[44/100]% pure. I ask you, gentlemen, pure what?"—ED.
SEAL FOR APPROVAL
Cheers to the students of Reno (Nev.) High (PEOPLE, April 27) for protesting the pollution typified in the state seal. You might be interested to know that our city seal here in Syracuse is equally polluted and is in the process of being changed. Mayor Lee Alexander has ordered a city-wide competition to come up with a new seal to replace the one that now depicts industrial chimneys belching smoke all over the place.
MICHAEL H. LEIDERMAN
Congratulations to the volleyball players on the West Coast (Spiking's the Punch at UCLA, May 4)! They've succeeded in taking a game that was played for sun and fun and putting it on a national level without taking anything away from the sport itself. Even the most important tournaments lack the heavy atmosphere of sulking and psyching athletes. The players bring their girls, their dogs and buckets of chicken. The uniforms may look flashy and sophisticated but, if you look hard enough, you'll find sand in everybody's ears.
Thanks for spreading the word on volleyball. It's a great sport.
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