SMILE, SMILE, SMILE
We took the Bil Gilbert Pack Up Your Troubles (July 17) with us—torn out of the magazine to save weight—to read during our bivouac at 7,600 feet as part of a north-side summit attempt on Mount Hood last weekend. Maybe we appreciated it especially because we are former equipment freaks, but we laughed so hard we almost collapsed.
Bil Gilbert's piece was one of the worst I have ever seen in your magazine. It may have been written to warn tenderfoot hikers about carrying too much, but in the end it turned into a grand cut-up of experienced and intermediate hikers, the latter of which I consider myself to be. I also put a lot of faith in camp equipment stores, because in all the times I have bought equipment I have never been steered wrong by descriptions or fancy talk about how good a product was and then had it turn out to be a lemon. Maybe Mr. Gilbert should take another look at camping and hiking before he writes another article for you.
Pomfret Center, Conn.
When I read Mr. Gilbert's article on backpacking, I was horrified at the realization that my wife and I, on a recent trip to the Tetons, had blatantly violated so many of his rules for backpacking.
We had brought: 1) a tent, 2) down sleeping bags, 3) cooking apparatus, 4) cold-weather gear, 5) a change of clothes. We also: 1) kept reasonably clean, 2) kept the cooking gear reasonably clean, 3) ate decent food, 4) did not enter the woods "with a stoical attitude and in a mood of resignation."
Yet, it seemed like we had such an enjoyable time of it.
Where did we go wrong?
EDWARD A. GRANT
No doubt Mr. Gilbert's article will open the door to overwhelming indignation from my fellow backpackers. One can live for some time on the trail—eating well, keeping clean and not being miserable—all with a 35-pound pack.
I suspect Mr. Gilbert is a rank amateur at packing if he has not heard of waterproof tents, less than three pounds in weight, miniature superlightweight stoves or lightweight, tasty freeze-dried foods. We experienced campers do not enter the woods with "a stoical attitude and in a mood of resignation." Nor do we make wood fires or generally ruin the environment.
Mr. Gilbert is the kind of camper that we backpackers resent.
W. C. SWAIN
Bil Gilbert hits the nail on the head. In California stores start displaying their camping wares in early spring, so to Gilbert's rules I would add at least one more: go late. The High-Camp stores and High Campers themselves sell all the glory of a nice three-day hike at 9,000 feet (or higher) in the spring. What they leave out is that in the Sierras you are guaranteed a snow-covered trail and campsite at least until June. And as the snow runs off, the mosquitoes take over. Add to that the high-running streams and it is easy to see why so many are discouraged.
What so few bag toters fail to recognize is that it's work! Perhaps if a few more started out with that thought in mind (rather than the glories of living by Lake Gefutch, which is sterile anyway), we might begin seeing a few more pragmatic campers and reduce the overpopulation in the back country.
I do disagree about the stove. I use a little blue butane stove, and it is handier for me than balancing the pot on a pile of unsteady rocks.
W. STUART HOME
Evonne Goolagong wins at Wimbledon and is featured on your July 12, 1971 cover. This year America wins both the men's and women's singles at Wimbledon and Jim Ryun is featured.
A grave injustice to Billie Jean, Stan and U.S. tennis fans.
JOHN R. MOLLENAUER
Your story about Ralph Nader's visit to Australia (PEOPLE, July 17) contains a very inaccurate statement that requires correction. It is simply not true that "the big reds and grays [kangaroos] that are killed for pet food and hides are not disappearing—yet—in places like New South Wales."
In fact, available scientific evidence, almost without exception, indicates that the larger species of kangaroo is being wiped out at a rate that will soon bring about its final extinction.
By annually importing between 500,000 and a million kangaroo pelts, the U.S. has created a tremendous incentive for the slaughter of these gentle, defenseless creatures. Although imports of products from threatened animals are banned by the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969, Secretary of Interior Rogers Morton has so far refused to add the kangaroo to his department's endangered-species list, which would give an immediate respite to these hard-pressed animals.
The Fund for Animals
John Underwood's account of his interviews with the Cornhusker graduates (The Graduates, July 3) was deeply moving with some of its stark reality, and the contrast between the two Woody Cox pictures (football player, chicory-headed student) told it all. It is this type of feature and excerpts from books like End Zone that inspire us lowly high school athletes and make SI uniquely superior in its field.
Thank you for a great article on the 1972 Olympic Track and Field Trials (The High and the Mighty, June 17), a very competitive and surprising meet in which many new champions arose. I am delighted by Jim Ryun's resurgence. After watching him struggle at the beginning of the year, it is gratifying to watch him become a winner again.
The cover picture was a masterpiece, just as was the one of Ryun and Marty Liquori battling it out last year.
It seems that you left out the most physically demanding event, the decathlon. Jeff Bannister, for people who might not know, won it with the highest total this year.
Bannister was trying for the Olympics in 1968 when his pole broke in the vault event and the accident laid him up for a long wait. He, too, like Ryun, had a block to overcome—a knee operation in 1970. I guess we will have to wait until he wins in Munich to see if he receives any publicity.
Your article by Jerry Kirshenbaum (The Girls Are Off and Winging, Too, July 17) was interesting, with good local color. There were indeed many exciting moments and outstanding performances at the Women's Olympic Trials. Nevertheless, I must register a sour note on the very poor manner in which spectators and athletes were kept informed of the action. My sympathy goes to perhaps 90% of the fans at Frederick who did not have Kirshenbaum's background or vantage point. Without a stopwatch, program, binoculars, patience and a knowledgeable person next to them, they probably left Thomas Johnson High with the impression that women's track and field is slow-moving and unexciting. The announcer, with his long periods of silence and his obvious lack of enthusiasm and competency, was a disgrace. The spectators' knowledge of field-event action was further hindered because no field-event indicator boards were used to show names and performances.
I feel you did an injustice to a very fine 1,500-meter runner by saying only that she "broke her own American record with 4:10.4." Comparatively speaking, Francie Larrieu's time was much better than Jim Ryun's 3:41.5 (to which you gave more than a page of ink and a cover picture) and was equally satisfying.
AN OLD PRO'S WAY
I agree with some of what Johnny Unitas had to say (The How To, Who To and When, July 10), but disagree with him on other points. Johnny, like all quarterbacks, does what he does naturally and does it very well. Because of this I have coined an expression about quarterbacks and coaches, "They don't know what they don't know." I mean, they do not realize the mistakes they make and therefore cannot correct them.
When Johnny retreats from the center to a point seven yards back, he plants his right foot to stop his backward progress, which causes his body to be inclined forward. Notice this in your picture. In order to get himself in a position to have his weight on his right foot and be "behind" the ball, he has to take the two steps ahead into the pocket. He does this naturally, no one taught him this. He could save the two steps and the time by landing on the ball of his right foot seven yards back. He then would be able to raise his left leg to get his trajectory on the ball.
Johnny writes of the follow-through with his right leg coming around like a pitcher's when he comes down off the mound. I whole-heartedly disagree. With the follow-through, the leg should be toward the line of the receiver, and both knees should be bent. This keeps the passer in the plane of the receiver for accuracy and puts him a yard ahead with his body slightly bent to make less of a target for the pass rushers.
I also disagree emphatically about how Johnny throws his long passes by aiming at a spot 10 yards ahead of his receiver. This is guessing and is what causes so many long incompleted passes. What should be done, and it is what I teach my boys, is to understand that in your head there is a computer. As a passer sees his receiver going downfield, three factors are fed into the computer: direction, distance and speed of the receiver. He then will automatically compute the lead and should throw the ball at the receiver, like a man shooting birds, and be on target. You throw the ball to the receiver. I have taught this to Roger Staubach.
I think I know more about passing and quarterbacking than any man. I did pass—three years at college and seven as a pro—and I have studied passing with Fielding Yost, the best coach in football. Johnny is a natural and like so many others has done very well. But they make mistakes and don't know they are making them.
New York City
I read with interest your down-home, folksy LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER about Gwilym S. Brown, who wrote the instructional article about Johnny Unitas' passing techniques. Upon turning to the story, I found that you neglected to tell the reader who the illustrator was.
Mount Vernon, Ill.
•Artist Francis Golden also noticed the omission.—ED.
You'll probably get a lot of static out of it, but this reader's opinion is that Bottoms Up to the Bottom-Fishing Hustle (July 10) was a most enjoyable article.
A hearty pat on the back to George Packard for a funny and entertaining piece of writing. And a good-natured punch on the arm to SI for having the imagination to print a report on that most popular and widely embraced of sports, the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Few men can throw the game-winning touchdown pass, but we can all pull the ring and chew the ice cube.
I thoroughly enjoyed Ron Reid's article (Yaz, We Have No Grand-Slammers, July 10). For the first time in a long time, credit was finally given to an underrated man. How quickly we forget 1967 when he tied for home-run champion.
Yaz is the best all-round player in the game today. His fielding has been outstanding; at the plate, he has been slow coming around from an injured knee. When Yaz has his best possible year, the Red Sox will be world champs.
I wish to praise the superb way in which the realism of the present versus the surrealism of past and momentary glory was acutely covered in After the Golden Moment (July 17). Through specific examples, one could see how glory need not be followed by fame or happiness.
Life must go on after the glory has ceased, but for many it does not because they wish to retain the past, which has slipped from their grasp. Perhaps this article will help the average athlete accept his mediocrity and realize that it is not always great to be "great."
How timely and appropriate was William Johnson's article (The Taking Part, July 10) concerning the rejuvenation of the Olympic Games and the important role played by that doughty Frenchman, Baron Pierre de Coubertin. Within the very hour of the arrival of this issue, I was discussing with my graduate class in the history of physical education de Coubertin and his dreams of the value of internationalism in sports through the revival of the Olympics.
Maria, his cynical and eventually centenarian wife, may have been upset that "not one time did they mention your name during the ceremonies" at the first modern Olympic Games, but perhaps she will rest easier knowing that, for a fleeting moment, her husband's name flashed across the historical horizon in college courses in the history of physical education.
H. DONALD LOUCKS
Professor of Physical Education
Florida State University
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