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A Heavy Comes to Light (Feb. 19) by John Underwood has to be one of the outstanding feature articles ever published in your magazine. It is certainly one of the greatest tributes ever to Jack Nicklaus.

I feel that many people who see this man in action do not realize how much sincerity and stamina he possesses. Though not a very good golfer myself, I enjoy watching the game for the sheer beauty contained within it and I marvel at those players such as Nicklaus who have total command over their power to bring their techniques to perfection.

But Jack Nicklaus is not just a pro golfer, as Underwood so masterfully points out. He is more. His dedication to his family, his friends, the public, his career and life itself is one of the best examples of human sincerity ever expressed. The Golden Bear is a beautiful human being.

John Underwood is right. My father and I had the good fortune to meet and play tennis with Jack Nicklaus last September at his home in Florida, and he was every bit as nice as Underwood's article implies. I also got the impression from our tennis match that Nicklaus is the kind of athlete who, if he had decided to concentrate on tennis instead of golf, would surely be one of the top WCT pros today.
Knoxville, Tenn.

How ironic that John Underwood's wonderful article should immediately follow the Bob Hope Desert Classic. Once again, in a renewal of past battles, the golfing world's two most prestigious players met in a classic head-to-head struggle. Arnold Palmer, displaying the charisma that made him the athlete of the decade, nudged golf's newfound hero for the title.

Thanks to Underwood for an inside look at Jack Nicklaus, but I hope that both of these great players will continue to captivate us with their classic matches for years to come.

I am a Palmer fan and always will be. But you have told it as it is. Jack is the greatest. Jack is the giant killer.

Congratulations on your excellent article on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Milwaukee Bucks {Center in a Storm, Feb. 19). Peter Carry has revealed to everyone the truth about Kareem. The fact that he believes so strongly in his religion that he faces personal harm because of it exemplifies the kind of man he is. We here in Wisconsin realize the worth of this man. Thank you for showing the rest of the world.
Eau Claire, Wis.

I think Peter Carry's article was very poor. It is true the Bucks and especially Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have had their problems this year, but tragedies like the murder of the Moslems in Washington, D.C. belong in newspapers and not in SI. Besides, even if the Bucks solve their personal problems they are going to have bigger ones against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Arcadia, Calif.

Center in a Storm was an excellent study of a misunderstood man and his religion. I had believed that all black men who changed their names were fanatical militants, and I despised them for it. Now I see that Abdul-Jabbar, Abdul-Rahman and others are doing more to shape a world of peace and love in one day than most of us have the courage to do in a lifetime. And to think that such a lesson in religion and life could be found in a sports magazine.
Harrisburg, Pa.

I very much enjoyed the article on the Bolus & Snopes entry in the 24 Hours of Daytona race (Waitin' for the Robert E. Snopes, Feb. 12). I first saw this team at Sebring in March 1972 and I watched it again this year at Daytona. I always wondered about the name, having thought it stood for the owners of the car. Thanks for setting me straight with an informative and amusing article. I expected a dull essay on the events of the race, but you chose a far more interesting approach.

It is a shame that not everyone can spend a day in the pits with Sam Scott and William Jeanes to share their antics and enthusiasm.
St. Petersburg, Fla.

I wish to commend both SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and Dr. James Haines of Morehouse College for the efforts to encourage young black swimmers (That Old Sinking Feeling, Feb. 12). I was a member of a group of young black men from Washington, D.C. who took competitive swimming very seriously in the early 1950s. Except for one, who attended Springfield and got a taste of the big time, we all attended CIAA and SI AC schools ("the very small pond") and worked during the summers as swimming instructors.

I recall very vividly an evening in August of 1952 in Washington. After we had been officially registered as a club to participate in a regional AAU meet (one of our group could "pass"), we were confronted by red-faced AAU officials stating, "There must be some mistake. You 'boys' can participate in boxing and track but we haven't opened up swimming yet." A very traumatic, discouraging and frustrating experience, to say the least.

A few of us stayed around to watch the meet and, ironically, in three major single events and two relays members of our club had been timed consistently from two to five seconds faster than the winning times in that meet. So Doc, Freddie et al., hang in. There is a black Mark Spitz out there somewhere.
Peekskill, N.Y.

I was glad to see that Dr. Haines pointed out that the buoyancy-test results were "purely descriptive" and not "inferential." In spite of what the natural initial reaction might be, buoyancy really has little to do with swimming ability. Buoyancy's greatest ally is plain old fat. Along with additional fat, however, has got to come a reduction in cardiovascular efficiency. I'll take cardiovascular efficiency anytime.

From my years of swimming I recall numerous teammates who sank like rocks, particularly their legs. Among them were Richard Abrahams, a Big Ten champion, and Teddy Petras, who bettered the national high school 100-yard breaststroke record in 1961. If these names are not familiar enough there is Chet Jastremski, another heavier-than-water competitor.

By the way, in naming world-class black swimmers it is a shame that you left out the name of Nate Clark of Ohio State, one of the finer butterflyers of the early 1960s.
Silver Spring, Md.

Thank you for a most enjoyable article by Beau Westover ( Walk on the Wild Side, Jan. 29). Westover and Mark Stearns proved on their midwinter trek through the Wyoming wilderness that man can still overcome the forces of nature without the aid of many modern conveniences. I particularly appreciated the contrast the author showed between the beginning of his journey in the upper reaches of Yellowstone, where the American wilderness had not yet been scarred by man and machine, and the end, where civilization had taken over and marred the area around Grand Teton National Park.
Lackawanna, N.Y.

We feel that your article was unfortunate, especially in that it described extremely poor cold-weather camping technique, and was essentially a complete compilation of the "don'ts" of winter mountaineering. This area of Montana and Wyoming can be and is traveled safely throughout the winter—including January and February, when the weather is much more extreme and the parks far more beautiful and pristine. Mark Stearns and Beau Westover ignored or broke nearly every basic rule of safety—not to mention comfort—and were lucky to survive. Those of your readers who are inspired to follow in their snowshoe steps should understand and avoid their serious mistakes.

Beau and Mark did, however, do justice to the peace and joy of winter in the mountains known so well to many of us.
Poplar, Mont.

Fortunately for Beau Westover and Mark Stearns, a $2 compass functioned in 27° below zero weather and good physical conditioning was a part of their regimen—otherwise a summer hiker would have discovered their partially decomposed bodies. Montana winters do not often release alive winter hikers who exhaust themselves, perspire until their long Johns are wet and tackle blizzards on foot after dark.
Billings, Mont.

Beau Westover and Mark Stearns are to be commended for their consummate courage. Even more to the point, they are to be held in wonderment for their foolhardiness.
Princeton, N.J.

Do you know if either the author or his friend has access to a psychiatrist?
Delavan, Wis.

Beau Westover's article pays tribute to John Colter, but only in name. This incredible yet shadowy figure in our frontier history has never attained the full recognition his activities so amply justify.

Colter walked into history on three separate occasions. He was probably in his late 20s when he joined the elite company of the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1803. As a scout and hunter, ranging the periphery of that exploratory group, he was the first white man to see the vast splendors of innumerable valleys, rivers and mountains. The Lewis and Clark journals chronicle his progress throughout the expedition's three years, but they are maddeningly deficient in yielding up personal background details on those in the historic party.

Colter remained on the upper reaches of the Missouri in 1806-07 when Lewis and Clark returned, perhaps trapping the Yellowstone River that he and Clark had explored that summer. The following spring he started down the Missouri alone, as Bernard DeVoto (Course of Empire) says, "remembering deeds and adventures that would have enriched literature if there had been anyone there to write them down." Meeting a big trapping party moving upriver, Colter turned back to the wilderness yet again, and DeVoto says, "This time he marched into American legendry.... Without companions, Colter made a journey so remarkable that it makes one's breath catch."

In the dead of winter, alone, with a 30-pound pack, snowshoes, a gun and ammunition, this man moved off the boundaries of all existing maps and into the unknown of some of America's most rugged wilderness, about which Westover writes. Colter's exact route is unknown, but he probably traveled a circuitous course upward of 500 miles.

Colter bobbed to the surface of Western exploration and legend a third time. His capture by the Blackfeet in the Three Forks area of Montana in 1808, his subsequent naked run for life, his escape into the Jefferson River by hiding amongst driftwood or, more romantically, in a beaver lodge, have been the true basis for this most popular of all Indian escape stories.

In my time, at Fort Clatsop near the Oregon coast, in the Grand Tetons, on the lonely expanse of the Lamar River Valley in Yellowstone Park, at Three Forks, Mont., amidst the prickly pear and the "verry troublesom mosquetors" of Clark's journals, I have stood and thought of John Colter. He lacked only for literary documentation to take his rightful place in the forefront of American folk heroes. "Many brave men lived before Agamemnon...." But Colter is first in line to answer the challenge: "Bring me men to match my mountains!" His spirit is embodied in Kipling's The Explorer: "Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges...." And in my own thoughts, I borrow from Stephen Vincent Benet: when John Colter passes in the night, "the phantom deer arise, and all lost, wild America is burning in their eyes."
Cambridge, N.Y.

Bless tennis star Tom Gorman (SCORECARD, Jan. 29). At a time when sport has deteriorated to the point where amateurs can't turn down the big buck to remain amateurs, and professionals arc strangling their own sports with demands for outrageous salaries, Mr. Gorman deserves praise for his altruistic sacrifice of a possible $5,000 in second-place prize money for the sake of his opponents, the fans and the game. He heads my list for Sportsman of the Year.
FPO San Francisco

Your editorial comments about the metric System ("A Matter of Meters," SCORECARD, Jan. 29) and the linguistic "ring" of a "four-footer" as opposed to that of a "1.22-meter putt" appear to be biased in favor of the retention of the outmoded English system.

This is really a shameful attitude for what I consider to be an otherwise progressive magazine, in view of the fact that we arc increasing the use of the metric system everywhere (e.g., food labels), your reluctance to consider the merits of a 120-centimeter putt is, at best, an ostrichlike attitude. Hopefully, this attitude will change.

The Marin Golf Club is to be congratulated.
Fresno, Calif.

So a 1.22-meter putt doesn't have the ring of a four-footer. Does "first down and 9.144 to go" bother you, too? Console yourself with the idea that if Europeans had to change to our method, their 1,500-meter run would become the 1,640.4-yard run and an easy one-meter putt would become a "3.28 footer." Sigh.
Fremont, Calif.

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