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Original Issue


Bill Leggett states that the Mets are unpredictable (Beware of the Cliff Dwellers, June 21), but he fails to see that the Pirates are quite the opposite. Willie Stargell continues his home-run assault, the pitching has improved over last year when the Bucs won the NL East title and the depth of the bench is unrivaled in the major leagues.

Sorry, Bill, but the Pirates are sweeping everything this year. As the Bucs' announcer, Bob Prince, would say, "We had 'em all the way!"

To be blunt, I am tired of reading in your publication about the great New York Mets while Pittsburgh continues to lead the East. In the past two seasons we have been forced to stomach continuous stories about Seaver and Co. while the Pirates rate only two stories in two years. If the Mets were actually as good as you seem to think, I would be the last to object to the publicity. But they are not. There is one consolation though. When the World Series is over, you will be forced to mention the Pirates—as the winners.
Uniontown, Pa.

When I saw the June 21 cover I envisioned an impartial story on the three-team race in the East. The way Mr. Leggett wrote it, you'd think the Mets were in first place by 20 games instead of 3½ behind the Bucs. I would like to read an article on the team that has been in first place a good part of the year and, before slumping, won 12 out of 14 on a recent home stand. What team am I talking about? The St. Louis Cardinals.
St. Louis

The thinly veiled political import of Spiro Agnew's words (Not Infected with the Conceit of Infallibility, June 21) leads to a rather fascinating contradiction wherein the Vice-President takes Dave Meggysey, Chip Oliver and George Sauer to task. In one passage he disparages society for becoming "more concerned with the aberrations than the norm," having previously decried a society "that would have us live our lives as identical lemmings."

As you no doubt learned from the Chandler series, politics and sports do not mix. SI would be well advised to avoid courting authors who have an ax to grind or a reputation to mend. It might appear that Mr. Agnew is seeking a nomination for Sportsman of the Year.
La Mesa, Calif.

If your best game is table tennis, Spiro, then please play in your basement where damage would be minimal. By the way, lock the basement door.
Lexington, Ky.

It was an unpleasant surprise and a grave disappointment to find that SI had provided such a willing forum for the utterly unctuous Utterings of the Vice-President. His thoroughly convoluted approach to the relationship of sports to mankind is alarming in its suggestion that seeking fun and relaxation should be only a tertiary purpose of participant sports. This glib and cavalier dismissal of any value other than being No. 1 is patently detrimental to the idea that sports is merely one of a wide variety of means toward human development.

As competition becomes more invidious, the benefits that Mr. Agnew extols reach a point of diminishing returns. It is time that Vince Lombardi's "Winning is the only thing" maxim was laid to rest, before the proponents of this ethic do the same to the spirit of brotherhood in this country.
San Diego

Thank you, Mr. Vice-President, from all the Walter Mittys of sport.

As you so aptly expressed: "Hope springs eternal," and we always go back for more.
Searcy, Ark.

Mr. Agnew has helped restore proper balance to the whole subject of sports, and cited the rewards that lie in store for those willing to accept the challenge of competition and the risk of failure.
East Northport, N.Y.

Spiro T. Agnew is living proof that a man learns largely from his mistakes. A statement attributed to the Vice-President, "No one can succeed unless he is willing to risk embarrassment and failure," should be prominently posted in every household. Thank you for publishing his remarks. I am even encouraged to continue bowling.

The Vice-President's story was most interesting and important because of his philosophy and convictions about the value of sports to our country. This is the type of attitude all coaches try to instill in their athletes. Vice-President Agnew's conclusions are the reasons coaches are so "sold" on athletics. They, too, know the value of sports to everyone.

Congratulations to a different kind of winner. Jeannette Bruce's Himalayan Trek or Treat (June 7) was lovely in its low-key humor and roundabout description of an ancient endeavor. We aren't all doing our thing in order to win, and even if we were, there would still be seas of also-rans. Here's to the little lady with the big blisters.
Neenah, Wis.

Having killed a couple hundred crows with a slingshot as a boy in India—we called them catapults or "caddies"—I suggest that Daniel Man nix (Far Use on Giants Not Turkeys, June 14) use a fairly narrow "V" rather than a wide-yawning "Y" to attach his rubber bands to, enabling him to bring his thumb and first finger close to the top. This reduces the leverage and results in more steady power. The thing then is to ride a bicycle with no hands, the hands being used to hold and conceal the slingshot folded to the chest. The crows don't seem to fear a bicycle rider, and a quick shot at an unsuspecting bird on the ground is possible.
Parma, Idaho

Cornell's contention that it had been snubbed by the NCAA lacrosse Establishment over the past few years (Big Red Votes Itself No. 1, June 14) can only be matched by the absence of an invitation to this year's tournament for the State University College at Cortland. Ranked the No. 8 team in the nation among colleges and universities, and No. 1 among small colleges, the Red Dragons compiled an impressive 11-1 record. They completely annihilated both Hobart and Syracuse, two teams that are not unknowns. Though the lone loss was to Cornell, it occurred in Cortland's second game and at a time when the weather here was still so unbearable that practice outside was next to impossible.
Cortland, N.Y.

Your article "Too Late for Joe" (SCORECARD, June 21) regarding the excellent results of soccer shoes in place of football shoes to reduce severe knee injury is fine but, in my experience, incomplete. As a college undergraduate player I had a knee problem, as did several of my teammates. Then when I became the head coach at Episcopal Academy for two years, freshman football coach at the University of Pennsylvania for four years and varsity coach at Penn for 16 years, I was constantly aware of the great team loss, as well as the individual loss, caused by knee injuries. Believe it or not, in all of my years as a coach we never had a knee injury requiring an operation. Yes, we used short cleats. We also had daily exercises to strengthen the knee and ankle areas, and we did not wrap the ankle so tightly that all flexibility was out and the full strain was thrown on the knee. Yes, we did have our share of ankle sprains, but never a bad knee.

Congratulations to Dr. Joseph S. Torg and the public and Catholic high schools of Philadelphia for their study, effort and real contribution toward the elimination of football knees.

Right on, Bill Skinner! It has long been an assumption of mine that ability makes the athlete, not a butch haircut. In high school I banded together with several friends in a boycott of the track team to protest grooming restrictions (on athletes only; the rest of the school had abolished dress codes, no doubt from the inspiration provided by the athletes with their short hair). Since we were the key to a track league championship that year, the coaches made a few compromises, and got their championship. But the team was never really together; certain hostilities had been caused by the rift and will never be forgotten. Now I'm at L.A. Valley College, coached by Nick Giovinazzo and George Ker, who care only about helping the athlete get the most out of track and field for himself and the team. This team is more together than any team you could find. Here we care about track, not hair. And if Bill Battle is concerned about student rebellions, perhaps if he and others like him would do away with ridiculous nit-picking restrictions like those on hair, there wouldn't be so many.
Pacoima, Calif.

I was disturbed by what happened to Bill Skinner at the University of Tennessee but I was not surprised, knowing that these archaic attitudes still exist among coaches. One of the main concerns of coaches is performance. Anything that detracts from performance should be eliminated, and anything that adds to it should be reinforced within the contexts of legal and moral standards. I am a little embarrassed to have to tell Bob Woodruff, Bill Battle, etc. what every elementary school child knows; that is, there is absolutely no correlation between appearance, specifically mustaches and long hair, and athletic performance. Neither does the lack of hair and mustaches have anything at all to do with helping guys work together, increasing respect for athletes or removing the possibility of having a drug image, as Woodruff would like to have his athletes believe.

Being a coach myself, I subscribe to Al McGuire's philosophy: "They do my thing on the court, and their own thing off." This liberal attitude certainly has not hurt the performance of McGuire's teams over the years. The success of any athletic program is due to two things: talented personnel and good coaching. It has nothing whatsoever to do with athletic dorms, training tables or silly rules on appearance.
Lincoln, Neb.

Concerning your biased article, as hard as you tried you failed to conceal the fact that Skinner was a rebel and, what is more inexcusable, he was old enough to be a man, but he whined and moaned and behaved like a juvenile. In reconstructing your article, you stated in different parts that 1) Skinner didn't go out for high school sports; 2) he was a high school dropout; 3) he expressed a desire to be a loner (individual) rather than a member of a team; 4) that organized athletics aren't his bag; 5) that he was divorced; and 6) he chose to disregard the rules. These are not outstanding traits of good character and certainly do not describe an ideal athlete. Skinner is one of those who, after being given the opportunity to become famous, turned his back on everything and everyone responsible for his success. He is a 31-year-old selfish, ungrateful spoiled brat.
Baton Rouge

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