I truly enjoyed and was inspired by Terry Todd's article (My Body's Like an Army, Oct. 4). I have been fortunate enough to see Herschel Walker run track on several occasions, and as an aspiring decathlete I can especially appreciate his ability.
However, I strongly disagree with the statement, "A physically mature individual can expect training to provide little more than a 5% improvement in sprinting speed...." In 1976 I entered junior college at the age of 18 with a personal best of 11.6 in the 100-yard dash. With hard work and good coaching I was able to drop to 10.6, an 8.6% improvement. I have since run 10.2, a 12.1% improvement, and barring serious injury I expect to run at least 9.8, a 15.5% improvement.
I believe that the physiologists and coaches quoted in the article were too deterministic. There is some truth to the saying "sprinters are born, not made," but "little more than 5% improvement" is too conservative.
•Terry Todd replies: "The statement in my story was based on the experience and expertise of Mel Rosen, sprint coach for the 1984 Olympic team and the head track and field coach at Auburn for the past 20 years. We were talking primarily about premier sprinters; it may be that someone whose gifts are not so extreme, who's not so close to the limit to begin with, can improve somewhat more than 5%. Also, the reader may not have been physically mature at 18." Indeed, Reagor admits he has grown an inch and gained 35 pounds since 1976.—ED.
Let's hear a round of applause for God, mothers, families, clean living, hard work, philosophizing, sensitivity and a masterwork of a manchild, Mr. Herschel Walker.
JOSEPH N. AVALLONE, JR.
I'll never forget SI's cover of John Jefferson, then a San Diego receiver, wearing protective glasses. It was almost shocking. But the opening photograph of Herschel Walker! My God, I almost dropped the magazine!
Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Herschel Walker may be a Dawg, but he's sure no dog!
DARYL J. HOLLIS
Falls Church, Va.
I am 10 years old and since I've read Terry Todd's article I've done 250 push-ups, 250 sit-ups and 15 pull-ups, plus an after-supper run of two miles every day. That's my comment to the great body of my favorite running back.
After reading Terry Todd's article, I was surprised to see Herschel Walker in the water. I thought he would have been walking on it.
JOHN C. HANCOCK
Your cover of Sept. 13, entitled "Peace Corps" and featuring Florida's Wayne Peace, has provoked numerous inquiries from potential Peace Corps volunteers about our recruitment policies. I would like to clear up some possible misunderstandings.
While Peace Corps service remains "the toughest job you'll ever love," we have not yet issued helmets to our volunteers as depicted. We have not yet established an agreement with "Gridiron" or any other territories that have 10-yard markings. And the uniform shown seems unlikely to conform to local native dress customs, as taught in our cross-cultural training. We also fear receiving equal opportunity lawsuits alleging discrimination against weak or sedentary persons.
Seriously, many thanks for associating our name with such a noteworthy person. I'm sure he'd make a good volunteer, too!
JOHN B. NICHOLSON
Director of Communications
The NFL strike (And Then the Clock Showed 00:00, Sept. 27) can be summed up in one word: greed.
On the one hand, the players want a bigger piece of the action and to earn as much as they can as fast as they can—presumably to earn a fan's lifetime earnings in four years (the length of the average NFL career).
On the other hand, the owners like their share of the pie and prefer it a la mode rather than having a portion a la carted away.
And, of course, the fan will lose in the end.
ROBERT S. SHUPE
A big thank-you is due the striking NFL players and the owner-management people for their keen, concerned and farsighted actions in keeping pro football away from us. For the first time since our marriage in 1961, I have been able to do my autumn chores of installing storm windows, raking leaves and getting firewood without the spousal ultimatums always directed to me when I was glued to the tube watching grown men play little boys' games for mucho bucks.
And all the time I thought both sides were acting out of greed!
We sports fans in Washington, D.C. have all the luck. First our baseball team is stolen, never to return. Then our hockey team is put on the market and is hanging on by a thread. And with our Redskins sitting atop the NFC East, the NFL goes on strike.
Hillcrest Heights, Md.
My response to the pro football strike comes from a Rick Telander story that appeared in SI a number of years ago. Telander quoted Florida Wide Receiver Carlos Alvarez: "Football is like a rose. It's nice, but it isn't essential." I agree.
DENNIS J. HAYES
North Mankato, Minn.
In regard to SI's cover photo on the NFL strike (Sept. 27), I would like to know what particular empty stadium has the deflated football in it.
•The picture was taken at Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium three hours after the Steelers-Bengals game of Sept. 19. Heinz Kluetmeier, the photographer, had some difficulty acquiring the principal prop. Says Kluetmeier: "The Steelers' p.r. director, Joe Gordon, and I went looking for a football, but the stadium was pretty empty and no one had a key to the equipment room. So we searched lockers, coaches' offices, stacks of boxes, but we couldn't find a single football. Finally, we came across an old game ball in Chairman of the Board Art Rooney's office. It was already partly deflated, but I used a paper clip to let out more air, and took the picture." That "old game ball" on SI's cover was from Super Bowl X, in which Pittsburgh defeated Dallas 21-17 on Jan. 18, 1976.—ED.
I enjoyed the cover and Jack McCallum's story on the Penn State-Nebraska game (O.K., Time to Fasten Those Seat Belts, Oct. 4) but he didn't mention that Todd Blackledge is a Phi Beta Kappa and may pass up his last year of eligibility if he is awarded a Rhodes scholarship.
FRED R. HUHN
Northwestern finally wins a game, and you put a Penn State player on the cover? What does Northwestern have to do, anyway?
After reading N. Brooks Clark's review of Ray Franks's book on college nicknames (BOOKTALK, Oct. 4), I feel I can contribute another version regarding the origin of the tag Hoosier.
In the fifth grade, while preparing a report on Indiana, I came across some information from the state's Chamber of Commerce. It stated that in the 1800s, when a visitor knocked on the door of a settler, the occupant would inquire "Who's there?" which sounded like "Hoosier" when the farmer wasn't particularly drilled on pronunciation.
In the BOOKTALK in your Oct. 4 issue, you asked the question, "Just what is a Crimson Tide, anyway?"
When I was an Alabama undergraduate in the early '20s, Tulane had a very strong football team called, then as now, the Green Wave. As I recall, after a victory by Alabama, a Birmingham sportswriter wrote: "Saturday the Green Wave of Tulane was completely engulfed by a tide of crimson-clad warriors."
You might also be interested in the nickname Million Dollar Band for the Alabama band that plays during halftime. During a game that the football team didn't play well, a sportswriter wrote: "While the football team did not look very good, the band looked like a million dollars."
Thank you for your article on Melanie Smith (A Jump Ahead of Everyone Else, Oct. 4). I've been reading SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for several years now and am happy finally to see an article on equestrian sports. There's more to the sports world than baseball, football, basketball and tennis.
Barboursville, W. Va.
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.