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Original Issue


I've grown accustomed to your fine coverage of major sporting events: however, I feel that you deserve special accolades for your story on the Larry Holmes-Gerry Cooney fight (The Class of His Class. June 21). I especially appreciated the fabulous photographs taken from ringside.
Jersey City, N.J.

A Joe DiMaggio cover! That man can still cover a lot of ground.

•It's a nice thought, but the Joe DiMaggio who took our June 21 cover picture isn't the Yankee Clipper. Photographer DiMaggio, no relation to Joltin' Joe, is a free-lancer from Centerport, N.Y. whose pictures have appeared in the magazine on a number of occasions, including our pre-Gerry Cooney-Ken Norton-fight article on Cooney (Gerry Cooney Can't Beat His Old English Teacher, but He Could Become Heavyweight Champion of the World, May 4, 1981). One of four Joe, or Jo, DiMaggios in his family, counting his dad, a 15-year-old son and wife Jo Anne Kalish, whose photographs have also appeared in SI, Joe reports that he has met the more famous Joe D several times but has never photographed him. He has been mistaken for him, too, and, as a result, been the recipient of some unsought and, most often, declined red-carpet treatment, such as "an $800-a-day suite" in an exclusive New York hotel, complete with a bouquet of roses and a bottle of Dom Perignon. When they checked in and discovered the error, Joe and Jo explained that they just wanted "a plain old $125-a-day room."—ED.

Thanks to SI and William Nack for an excellent article on the fight. It was so thorough, and the photography was so good, it made me feel as though I had been at ringside for all 13 rounds. I was pulling for Gerry Cooney, but Larry Holmes proved to everyone how great a boxer he really is. He's by far the best of the heavyweight class at this time.
South Bend

Our hats should be off to Larry Holmes. On June 11 he beat not only Gerry Cooney and two near-sighted judges but also the System. I mean the System that gives a hard-working, honorable, black heavyweight champion second billing to an untested, unpolished and unglamorous white heavyweight contender. Holmes is a proud, dignified and, finally, respected champion who deserves better treatment than he receives from the System. This is his finest hour.
New York City

Larry Holmes has done it again. He has successfully defended his crown with a show of style. It's too bad he has no class, though. A sore loser is one thing, but a sore winner is another, and it gets a little sickening, not to mention boring. Holmes's biggest enemy is himself. Where's the Holmes of not so long ago, the one who was nice and humble? Everyone knows you're the champ, Larry. Come on, let's see now if you can knock that chip off your shoulder.
Irvine, Calif.

Even though Gerry Cooney lost to a great champion, Larry Holmes, I think the boxing world has just begun to see the real Cooney. Anybody can step into a boxing ring and fight for a title and lose, but it takes a man to say to his followers that he's sorry he lost. Gerry Cooney will be back.
Atwater, Calif.

I'm writing in regard to the article by Don Reese on his bitter struggle with cocaine ("I'm Not Worth a Damn," June 14). It was an excellent article, but I am afraid I received it a day late.

I'm a junior at a very small private school and over the past three years I've risen to the top of the ladder there. I've worked long and hard to be a part of two varsity teams and I've never failed to make the honor roll. The last few months have been some of my life's best. I was even elected president of the student council. Sounds like everything is going great, doesn't it? Not for long, though.

One recent morning a friend and I decided to experiment with cocaine before an exam. We'd heard a lot about it and were willing to try it, but we were seen by a teacher and the rest is history.

To say that coke has ruined my life is a cop-out. I've still never used it, and I don't intend to. But it galls me to think of the hard times ahead of me as I live down my reputation and make my way back to the top—and, believe me, I will. Already my position as student-body president has been relinquished and my hopes of being class valedictorian are stifled. In fact, I've been asked not to return to school next fall. My own mother called me a junky.

I'm not writing for help, or pity, or catharsis. My purpose is to inform others that "the lady" is indeed evil. If one pusher, one addict or one experimenter is changed into a straight human being by my letter, that would definitely serve my purpose.

The drug problems in the NFL described by Don Reese are very real indeed. I spent a year living with my buddies in San Diego, all of whom played for the Chargers. I can attest that the quick cash on hand, the pressure to perform, the threat of injury and the lack of job stability tend to lead these superior athletes to this escape from reality. There was an incredible amount of partying and there were bundles of cocaine. I personally watched many a Charger escape from reality with cocaine. My view of pro football is tarnished now, because when I watch a game I can't help wondering how high those guys are.

My only objection to the article was the naming of the players doing cocaine. Many names could be brought out, however. Bring on the urine tests!

If you publish this, just print that it was from John Boy, Battle Ground, Wash.
Battle Ground, Wash.

It's a shame Don Reese's career came to a skidding halt because he couldn't control his habits or his life-style. He was a Class A ballplayer in every respect. However, it's unfair to blame cocaine, or any drug, for an athlete's demise. There's no drug problem, only a people problem.

Judging by Reese's confessions, he had become more than a recreational user. And let's face it, it's the abuse of a drug, not the use, that causes problems. I'm not trying to advocate doing cocaine, but I've seen dozens of ballplayers use the drug moderately and have no problems. Reese's obsession with coke was the problem, not the coke.

Why don't you write a story on the drug that has taken down more athletes and non-athletes than marijuana, cocaine and amphetamines combined—alcohol.
Muncie, Ind.

No one coerced Don Reese into signing a lucrative pro football contract. It's the same with drugs. No one forced him to become an addict. The owners and/or the league shouldn't be held responsible for cleaning up the so-called drug problem. The players should take care of their addiction on their own, because they brought it upon themselves. Let them spend some of their big contract money on help for themselves. If Reese or any other athlete is looking for sympathy from the fans, he won't get it from this one.
Mount Washington, Md.

After reading the article I felt disillusioned with the Players Association. If it really is an organization formed to help NFL players, how could it not make any recognizable attempt to cure this epidemic? And if it is unaware of the problem or is willfully ignoring it in hopes that it will disappear, God help players like Don Reese.
Burlington, Ontario

I would like to thank SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for presenting the special report by Don Reese with John Underwood. Before I had a chance to read the article, I heard that it was just another piece of sensational journalism. However, I have had experience in the world of amateur athletics and I'm familiar with many of the scenes of drug use—marijuana, hash and cocaine, too—that Reese accurately describes in his tale. "These things can't happen to me" is a phrase too often heard from drug users and abusers. I'm sure Reese once thought that these drugs couldn't bother him, either.

SI deserves to be commended for having the courage to run the article and enlighten its readers on this problem, which has the potential to grip—if it hasn't already gripped—locker rooms throughout America.
Sports Information Director
Haverford College
Haverford, Pa.

I, too, messed up my life through cocaine. I lost everything that was dear to me. My life was a shambles, until I decided to seek help from the Genesis House. I've been involved in the program for two years, the first year as a client and now as a counselor.

Cocaine has been glamorized in the past and it is still glamorized today. The control that it exerts over its users, however, is by no means glamorous. I deal on a daily basis with people who are trying to break cocaine's stranglehold. It's an extremely difficult habit to shake. We in the rehabilitative community are now beginning to see a definite shift from heroin addicts and speed freaks to a greater number of people with severe cocaine problems. Cocaine is becoming the most abused drug in our society, apart from alcohol.

While some insist that coke isn't physically addictive, you'll get a different answer when talking to abusers of the drug. It takes complete control of your physical and mental processes. Your entire life revolves around obtaining more cocaine. Something must be done. The answer lies in education and rehabilitation. Unfortunately, in these times of tight money, it's becoming increasingly difficult to obtain funding. I commend you for helping to bring this problem to the attention of your readers.
Suisun, Calif.

The article was superb! As for Don Reese, I hope he can get his life together, because there are many people pulling for him and for every other NFL player who may be going through—or may have gone through—the same traumatic ordeal with drugs. To all of them, I say turn your lives around and be the men and great athletes you can be.
Kansas City Chiefettes
Kansas City, Mo.

Thank you for shedding some light on the man behind the superstars of the Los Angeles Lakers, Pat Riley (L.A. Needed a Pat on Its Back, June 21). I wouldn't begin to suggest that Riley's coaching is the only reason Los Angeles won the NBA title, but even the greatest ship in the world needs a steady hand at the wheel.

Kentuckians aren't surprised at the leadership Riley showed this season. In his senior season at the University of Kentucky he suffered a painful back injury but still averaged 17 points per game. While in the Bluegrass State he also learned that you can't pull in the reins too tightly on thoroughbreds, so the Lakers' victory confirms that fast-break basketball is the best way to travel.
Owensboro, Ky.

I tip my hat to Philadelphia's Billy Cunningham and L.A.'s Pat Riley for a refreshing and admirable display of class. These two men showed me traits I seldom see in coaches—patience and self-control. As a lifetime player, coach and fan of basketball, I'm proud that Cunningham and Riley are leading representatives of my favorite sport.
Valparaiso, Neb.

It wasn't mentioned in your story on the Lakers' win, but the pro baseball, football and basketball champions are all from California.
Los Angeles

Congratulations to Steve Wulf for his fine article on Oriole First Baseman Eddie Murray (Eddie Is a Handy Dandy, June 21). In pro sports today it would be hard to find a more perfect example for youngsters than Eddie. Baseball fans in the Baltimore area have long been familiar with his fine baseball skills and his outstanding desire and attitude.

SI gave its readers a look at an athlete who lets his baseball do the talking rather than boast of his accomplishments and then have to deal with fair-weather fans when he falls short of their expectations. Murray is one of few sportsmen who earn their salaries on the basis of their skill, rather than their mouths.
Centerville, Va.

There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that Eddie Murray is the most consistent all-around player in baseball today. However, I have to disagree with the comment that he is "the most dreaded hitter" in the American League. In my opinion, the Brewers' Cecil Cooper is by far the most dreaded hitter in the majors. Since coming to Milwaukee in 1977, Cecil has yet to hit below .300.
Waupaca, Wis.

Eddie Murray, the most dreaded hitter in the American League? Come on! How about Rickey Henderson or Dave Winfield, just to name two more likely candidates?
Fairfield, Calif.

Howard Eisenberg's article (SIDELINE, June 7) on the use of sports psychologists—designated shrinks—was most timely. Sports psychology is definitely an up and coming and important field, and psychotherapy can, certainly contribute to the well-being of the professional athlete. As evidenced by the past three Olympics, the Soviet Union and the Eastern European nations that have employed sports psychologists have developed highly successful athletic programs.

It's my experience as a sports psychologist that athletes can maximize their performances and derive more enjoyment and satisfaction from their sports by learning the skills to handle their emotions as well as their muscles. I hope to see all major sports teams employ sports psychologists to help athletes deal with their fears of success or failure, manage stress before a competition and cope with the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
Sports Psychology Director
Chestnut Hill Psychotherapy Associates
Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Letters should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.