GROPING FOR ANSWERS
Richard W. Johnston's deeply moving A Man Who Hardly Left a Mark (June 10) was a classic study in reporting a tragic, seemingly senseless death in an objective yet compassionate manner.
Fred Mundy's apparent refusal to admit his error and allow himself to be rescued should reaffirm the overemphasis our society has placed on winning and role playing. When the death of Mundy is juxtaposed with Ray Kennedy's report in the same issue on the Long Beach State fiasco (427: A Case in Point), we can see, in microcosm, a nation groping to find its lost ideals, to regain its misplaced values.
Every once in a while your magazine has an article that is truly out of the ordinary, and Richard W. Johnston's is one of them. As I read the story, I tried hard to figure out Fred Mundy's thinking and rationalizing after he had become lost. Now that I have finished, I feel that only two explanations have plausibility. The first is that Rancher-Searcher Andy Meling is correct: "No one could have made so many mistakes without a purpose. This was his destiny." The second, and the one I have more of a tendency to believe, is that Mundy lost control of his faculties in the desert heat after he abandoned his bike.
New York City
THE LONG BEACH CASE
427: A Case in Point (June 10) presents several questions for all of us in the coaching profession to ponder:
1) Who is supposed to derive the benefits from any school athletic program?
2) Who is supposed to derive the benefits from the overall educational programs?
3) Who gets hurt the most when these programs are poorly administered?
4) Who is being exploited by some of the intercollegiate athletic programs?
5) Who is learning every day from the example set by the teachers in our educational programs?
6) What is the one ingredient of every educational setting that, if it were eliminated, would also eliminate any need whatsoever for gyms, football fields, pools, offices, classrooms, labs, coaches, presidents, athletic directors, etc.?
It should be apparent that the answer to all six of these questions is the same: the student. This should be kept in mind when any type of educational program is being developed or conducted.
Kids do not exist for athletic programs, athletic programs exist for kids.
University of Wisconsin, La Crosse
La Crosse, Wis.
Congratulations on uncovering the facts that led to the NCAA putting Long Beach State on probation. Especially interesting were the circumstances surrounding the growing pains that a university has to go through to become big time in athletics. How can an association like the NCAA slap a probation on a school that takes measures to survive on a "limited" budget by having its athletes stay in $6 motel rooms when some of the "bigger" schools have a budget so large that they can go out and buy everything, including players?
Most of the NCAA policies are archaic, and until they change schools like Long Beach State will be the scapegoats for their inadequacies.
Re Case 427, this is the American system of justice. The poor are caught and serve their time and the rich go free.
STANLEY O. BOKELMANN
Thanks for the fine article on Johns Hopkins' victory in the NCAA lacrosse finals (The Jays Take It Back, June 10). But no thanks for the comment, "Johns Hopkins won't beat you at most games." The fencing team, coached by Dick Oles, a member of the American team that won the 1970 Masters World Fencing Championship, has compiled a 40-6 won-lost record over the past two seasons. The Hopkins fencers won the Middle Atlantic Conference championship in 1973 and repeated in 1974, with the widest winning margin in conference history. In the last two NCAA University Division fencing championships Hopkins has finished 11th and 10th, beating out such powers as Princeton, Navy, Notre Dame, Army, Yale, Harvard, Seton Hall and Cornell.
The Hopkins basketball team had the best MAC regular-season record and captured the conference title in the postseason playoffs this year.
The Blue Jay swimmers have a long streak of Mason-Dixon Conference and MAC titles. The team boasts several NCAA College Division All-Americas and one University Division All-America, and it has finished among the top six teams in the past three NCAA College Division championships.
The Hopkins football team, which includes a significant number of lacrosse players in its ranks, has had a 6-3 record for three seasons running.
1973-74 Fencing Team
I want to compliment Joe Marshall on a beautifully written article on the lacrosse championship and particularly on the feeling at Johns Hopkins for lacrosse.
How well I remember my undergraduate years (1961-65), fighting to get grades under intense academic pressure and fierce competition from other students. Occasionally, for a diversion, we would watch a football game (a terrible team) or a basketball game (also a poor team). Usually the crowds were sparse and apathetic. But then spring would come and, with it, lacrosse. Ah, lacrosse, that magic name! The campus seemed to come alive; we all came alive. Now the playing field was occupied by national champions; the stands were packed. After the games the quad was filled with students carrying sticks. Lacrosse balls filled the air.
It was wonderful to see you capture that spirit in your article. Come on, you Jays, and thank you, Joe Marshall.
JEFF BURTAINE, M.D.
I nominate Coach Bob Scott as Sportsman of the Year. I believe that his success on the field speaks for itself. His success off the field is reflected in the inspiration and pride he has helped to instill in his players and in the entire Hopkins community.
RONALD F. GRAVITZ
Congratulations to Joe Marshall and Photographer John Iacono for their fine job of covering the NCAA lacrosse finals. I hope you give the same amount of coverage next year when Maryland wins back the title.
CASH AND CAN DO
Thanks a lot for your article Oops, Here Comes Philly Again (June 10). Dave Cash is the type of player the Phillies have been looking for. He's doing everything but the laundry. After a long cold spell it looks as if the Phillies are on the way up again.
Being a longtime follower of the Pirates in general and Dave Cash in particular, I was happy to see that he received some much-deserved recognition. In my opinion he was the most underrated second baseman in the league during his tenure with the Bucs, and I'm glad that he is being more fully appreciated in Philly.
New York City
I hope this means no more cracks about Philly, because yes, we can and yes, we will.
Was my June 10 issue of SI missing a page or two or were those two paragraphs really all that were written on the U.S. women's gymnastics championships (Mixing Satin and Steel)? The pictures warmed me up, but the copy left me cold.
Thanks for your exceptionally fine article on women's gymnastics. Being a gymnast, I know that the sport must be seen to be appreciated, and it's rare that one comes across such exquisite photos. You've given women's gymnastics the credit it deserves. It's true, it takes steel as well as satin to win.
Although I am always glad to see a gymnastics feature in SI, I must say that the tone of the June 10 article is a little misleading. It wasn't "when the rosin dust settled" at the Elite Nationals 1974 that Joan Moore Rice emerged as the No. 1 woman gymnast in the country. Joan has placed first at the Elite Nationals four years in a row, the only American woman to have done so.
Not included in the article was our Annie Carr, who was third. Philadelphia produces more than hockey teams!
WICKIE W. FOULKE
Spring House, Pa.
It takes all kinds of opinions to make a horse race, as the man said. The same could be said of a YMCA swimming meet. The letters you've published (May 20 and 27) criticizing your approach to the national YMCA swim meet in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (High, Y and Then Some, May 6) reflect only one point of view. Not all of us take as dour a view and, in fact, some of us are very grateful to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for a piece that covered a YMCA event so thoroughly.
What the article did so well, we believe, was to bear out the YMCA slogan, which is "We're in the People Business." The story certainly made that clear.
Director, Office of Communications
National Council of YMCAs
New York City
Not wanting to "spoil a beautiful fight with a decision" is the purest expression of what amateur athletics are supposed to be that I have ever come across. Al Fracker, the West Point cadet in Sam Merrill's story (On, Brave Old Army Team, June 10), may never become the best, but he is already the most beautiful. Boxing is a rough sport, from which Merrill extracted a delicate personality. The job was tasteful, the writing superb.
JULIUS E. ALTMAN
East Meadow, N.Y.
Hollywood has done a great job in the make-believe world of sports movies (The Film-Flam Men, June 3). Isn't Ronald Reagan known as the Gipper and isn't Pat O'Brien the real Knute Rockne? After John Wayne takes off his cowboy hat, doesn't he go over to St. Mary's to coach the football team? Weren't actors Ward Bond and Errol Flynn actually fighters who appeared under the names of John L. Sullivan and Gentleman Jim Corbett? After the war didn't Jimmy Stewart change his name to Monty Stratton, and wasn't it Lloyd Nolan who managed the old Dodgers? Hollywood convinced me that William Bendix hit like Babe Ruth, Dan Dailey pitched like Dizzy Dean and Glenn Ford putted like Ben Hogan. And surely Burt Lancaster was a present-day Jim Thorpe.
Granted, Charlton Heston makes a better Moses than an aging quarterback and Paul Newman doesn't exactly look like Rocky Graziano, but how could people like Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, Jackie Robinson and Crazy Legs Hirsch be poor actors when they played themselves?
THOMAS J. O'MALLEY
New York City
Edwin Shrake will be pleased to know that Keith Merrill's The Great American Cowboy won the Academy Award this year for the best feature-length documentary. The film features Larry Mahan, about whom Shrake wrote an excellent article (Horsing Around with Bull) in your Dec. 3 issue. The film will be released this summer.
Beverly Hills, Calif.
It makes me extremely happy to see the hierarchy of the NHL taking some positive steps to put an end to fighting as a winning strategy in professional hockey (Putting Some Cuffs on the Fists, June 3). If the present trend continues, hockey will be in the same category as Roller Derby and professional wrestling, and will attract the same type of fans. This may be a novelty for a short while, but in the long run it will certainly hurt the game.
Why all the gimmickery? Why not simply restore the two-minute penalty?
Under the present rules a shorthanded team can be scored upon only once per penalty, making it very attractive to take a "good" penalty when it seems reasonably certain that the opponents will score. What's the cost of such a penalty? No more than one goal.
Why not simply require a penalized man to serve his full two minutes? If the opposition scores early in the sentence, it will have that much more time to score again, and perhaps even a third time. The severe handicaps of shorthandedness and a tired defense will make a man think twice before taking any penalty. And enforce a similar rule for a major infraction. Five minutes should mean five minutes!
These simple changes may restore some of the finesse lacking in the game today, while removing some of the "brutality."
ROBERT R. SIROTY, M.D.
DAVID M. SIROTY
To prevent the next NHL season from becoming a reenactment of the games of ancient Rome, I would like to add a thought to the excellent rule changes suggested by NHL President Clarence Campbell.
Scotty Morrison should instruct his referees to stop being awed by the game's prima donnas. Gordie Howe did and Bobby Clarke does (to name just two) get away with everything short of armed robbery. Kudos to the referee who had the guts to call the holding penalty on Bobby Orr with only 2½ minutes left in the final Stanley Cup game.
DAVID R. CHILBERG
I am getting tired of all these articles about the fighting Flyers. A team does not win games, let alone the Stanley Cup, just by fighting. The Islanders were third in penalty minutes with more than a thousand, and they were the second-worst team in the league in points. This was mainly because they did not have players like Ross Lonsberry, Rick MacLeish, Orest Kindrachuk (in my opinion one of the most underrated rookies), Bobby Clarke, Bill Barber and Bernie Parent, to name just a few of the talented Flyers. I can't wait to see how far some of these other teams get with their all-muscle, no-talent type of players.
I have been a SPORTS ILLUSTRATED subscriber since 1966 but never have enjoyed an article more than Kenny Moore's Pride in Bondage (May 27). It was a tribute to those gigantic men of sumo wrestling. While living in Japan for 2½ years during my military service, I came to understand and respect this great sport. Mr. Moore's article explains it magnificently.
The article on Japanese sumo wrestling brings back many memories. Having been stationed in Japan for three years while in the Navy, I became a devout follower of this fascinating sport. In fact, in addition to watching the six tournaments a year on TV, I was able in November 1972 to see the action in person at the same arena in Fukuoka as Mr. Moore did.
As Moore states, sumo may seem strange and puzzling to the gaijin at first sight. But once a few of the basic rules are learned and one becomes familiar with some of the top names, it is surprising how quickly one becomes interested and tries not to miss a day of the tournament action on TV.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed the article, I saw no mention made of the undisputed alltime top sumo wrestler, Yokozuna Taiho. He began winning at the age of 21, and had gained 32 championships before retiring in 1971, a record that will be difficult to equal. I saw his last match on TV. The name Taiho became as much of a household word in Japan as the name Henry Aaron has become in America.
Minot, N. Dak.
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