BLOUNT ON BLOUNT
I commend Roy Blount Jr. and SI for the fine portrayal of Pittsburgh Cornerback Mel Blount and his "roots" (This Steeler Is Really a Cowboy, July 25). Rarely have I been so moved and so inspired.
In my estimation, adherence to the work ethic and an independence of spirit are two qualities that abounded in those who originally made this country great. It is heartening to me to discover that there are still Americans like Mel Blount and his family who possess both traits.
DANIEL R. PARTIN
I know why I renewed my subscription. It was because of the article about Mel Blount by Roy Blount Jr.
I thoroughly enjoyed Dan Jenkins' article on Tom Watson's fifth British Open victory (Breaking Clear of the Crowd, July 25), and after reading it I wondered: Is there anyone greater than Watson in golf? Only Jack Nicklaus came to mind. Then, in the same issue, I read Barry McDermott's masterpiece on the astonishing career of Kathy Whitworth (Wrong Image but the Right Touch). To compile 84 triumphs over 24 years and to rise above adversity takes a tremendous amount of perseverance. In my opinion, Whitworth is the best golfer of all.
A few years ago I had the pleasure of playing with Kathy Whitworth in the now defunct Bluegrass Invitational pro-am at Hunting Creek Country Club in Louisville. The following winter during a trip to San Francisco, I noticed, as I left my car in a hotel garage, that I was parked next to Kathy's car. I left her a note written on the back of my business card. At the party preceding the next Bluegrass pro-am, she was kind enough to look me up and reply in person. I've never been surprised at her success.
THE USFL CHAMPIONSHIP
While Ralph Wiley's coverage of the USFL's first Championship Game (The Panthers Are No. 1, Thanks to No. 1, July 25) was very good, I take exception to the fact that you chose not to put one of your high-quality action photographs of that game on the cover. Instead you selected a picture of a person who plays golf, holding a trophy that wasn't even won in this country. I can't believe it! Golf. when you could have had Anthony Carter pulling in a pass or Bobby Hebert poised in the pocket.
Thanks for reporting on the USFL Championship Game. I fell asleep during the first quarter and never found out who won.
Many thanks to Douglas S. Looney for his story on Billy Cannon (In a Rush to Make a Big Gain, July 25). Being a diehard LSU fan, I, like most Louisianans, was surprised and disappointed by Cannon's arrest for counterfeiting. Cannon's exploits on the gridiron are renowned in the state, but he will no longer be thought of almost as a deity. He will be viewed for what he truly is—a human being with as many imperfections and frailties as the rest of us. That Cannon has fully cooperated with government officials and admitted his guilt restores some of my respect for him. Yet, at a time when Tiger football fortunes have never appeared better, it seems strangely inappropriate that our feelings for this Purple and Gold hero should be tarnished. I hope that the National Football Foundation reconsiders its decision not to induct Cannon into the College Football Hall of Fame, because as a college football player, he was one of the best.
JOHN H. FENNER
I can still recall the time when I was nine years old and, after a night of trick-or-treating, huddled with my family and cousins listening to the second half of the LSU-Ole Miss game in 1959. One could scarcely hear the radio announcer over the roar of the crowd as Billy Cannon completed his memorable punt return. What some people forget is that of equal importance to LSU that night was the goal-line stand that followed Cannon's punt return late in the game. I believe Cannon was involved in those heroics as a defensive halfback (playing both ways).
What has happened to him is sad and disappointing. Too often the star athlete believes he has been elevated above the ranks of mere mortals to a level where normal ethics and standards do not apply. Here's hoping that a just punishment is handed out to Cannon, but more important, that the problems in his life are turned around and that he realizes he has, in addition to a loving family, numerous loving fans.
Douglas S. Looney's treatment of Billy Cannon's story is an example of our inability to let go of a hero. A person's athletic ability is separate from his or her morality. Yet time and again, when a sports figure lets us down by going afoul of our laws and mores, we find it hard to comprehend. Somehow we are unable to relate that to the legend. When a bad kid from the inner city gets into trouble with the law. we don't stop to interview his friends to ask why. We just treat him as a common criminal. From reading the article, I gather that Cannon is just a common criminal.
It was a distinct pleasure to read Terry Todd's well-written article on Bill Pearl (Pearl Is a Rare Old Gem, July 18). Unfortunately, photographs fail to do Pearl justice. Those people who have been fortunate enough to see him in the flesh are inevitably astounded by his massive yet superbly proportioned development. Those of us who have been even more fortunate to know Bill as a person are just as inevitably impressed with the inner man. He is a person of integrity, humility, honesty and compassion, a gentle philosopher encased in the body of Hercules. The mold hasn't been broken, it's just awfully hard to fill.
Bay Saint Louis, Miss.
Bill Pearl is living proof of the benefits of progressive weight training and, more important, an excellent example of the rewards that hard work, discipline and determination bring. There are few people in any endeavor, athletic or otherwise, who possess these qualities to the degree Pearl does. It is unfortunate that there are not more individuals in the sporting world like him. He is a hero for our younger generation to look up to and an inspiration to those of us who are older.
Terry Todd emphasized that the 52-year-old Bill Pearl is youthful looking and compared him to middle-aged runners, "who sometimes appear to be older than their years."
As a Masters competitor, I feel this is a totally subjective judgment. For every female who thinks brawny weightlifters are gorgeous, there are others who think sleek runners are just as appealing. I would love to see a study comparing the aging factors of runners vs. those of weightlifters. Anyway, lots of runners today, myself included, lift weights, too. Many middle-aged runners have good body strength, yet aren't muscle-bound.
Walnut Creek, Calif.
THE SYDNEY MAREE STORY (CONT.)
My husband and I are charter subscribers, and Gary Smith's article on Sydney Maree (He Ran, but Knew Not Why, July 18) was worth the entire investment. Smith's statements, his style and evident caring for other human beings are important to me and must have been for countless others who read his piece.
MARJORIE C. GEISLER
So Friedemann Stut attributes Sydney Maree's discipline to some Caucasian ancestor—conveniently ignoring countless generations of black ancestry as well as the dedication, determination and. will of the athlete himself. Surely this is a new standard for racial arrogance. But no; apparently it is the norm among most South African whites, and all of their attempts to curry or purchase favor abroad cannot disguise it. I am white, with no sympathy for Communist governments. But can the average Soviet citizen possibly be worse off than the average South African black?
I congratulate William Taaffe on his article about "trespassing technology" (TV/RADIO, July 18). I've always felt that reporters and TV personnel should keep cameras and microphones out of Indy cars, huddles, etc. I hope those reporters who do intrude read the article and have their eyes opened by it.
Iron River, Mich.
It's about time someone took television sports to task for meddling with the participants in sports events. TV directors should concentrate on the basic task of following the field action.
I agree that no journalistic method should intrude into the contest itself, but let's have the participants decide what constitutes intrusion. They have more to lose. Maybe all this TV stuff has the print journalists a little uneasy. After all, television is giving us access to insights, impressions and views of situations that the print media can only report subsequently and from a controlled environment. Television and sports are live and spontaneous. They belong together.
Culver City, Calif.
That the CBS minicam shouldn't be placed in NASCAR Winston Cup stock cars is certainly a matter of debate. CBS was lauded for its excellent coverage with its six-pound mini-cam, as well it should have been. CBS's expertise, along with the most exciting racing in the world, made for a superior telecast.
Yet the situation, which had never been controversial before your July 18 edition, may already be academic. Not only did Cale Yarborough win the Daytona 500 with a CBS camera aboard, he did the same in Michigan's Gabriel 400. This may turn from a question of whether a camera should be in a car to how do we get the driver to take it out.
Director of Public Relations NASCAR
Daytona Beach, Fla.
TREATING DRUG ABUSERS ET AL.
Your editorial (SCORECARD, July 25) accurately reflects just how ineffective sports officials have been in their attempts to deter illegal off-the-field activities of professional athletes. It's ironic. Owners give outrageously high salaries to kids right out of high school and college. The young athletes become instantly rich and famous and suddenly can afford life in the fast lane, a great temptation to someone just out of his teens. Then management scratches its head when these kids get into trouble.
As long as huge salaries are given to young athletes, problems such as drug abuse are going to continue. When such problems occur, management should offer rehabilitation, not hand out punishment.
Ray Miller's comments on Steve Howe (19TH HOLE, July 25) sickened me. He says alcohol or drug addiction isn't an illness, but a weakness of the will. Well, Mr. Miller, try willpower when you've got diarrhea. I feel sorry for you and your dark-age attitude.
Let's see now, there is alcohol illness; Art Schlichter has gambling illness; and Steve Howe has cocaine illness. I'm sure Billy Cannon has counterfeiting illness and Jesse James had train-robbery illness. It's good to know that no matter what I do, I'm just ill and not responsible. I'll sleep better tonight.
BILLY TUBBS'S ACCIDENT
The reference in SCORECARD (July 18) to the accident involving Oklahoma Basketball Coach Billy Tubbs didn't quite tell it like it is. As a personal friend of the driver of the vehicle, I would like to plead her case.
What happened on that Sunday is the following: Tubbs was jogging on a street that was wet from a previous rain. He was doing two things that are hazardous for joggers—wearing earphones and running with traffic instead of against it. He stepped out into the lane to avoid a puddle and into the path of the car. At no time was the driver at fault, and no citation was issued the driver.
I bring this to your attention because Tubbs's references to being hit by a "charging" car are a source of consternation to my friend and unfair in that there was never any fault on her part.
•Tubbs, who always tries to see the funny side of things, no doubt meant his remark to be taken as a joke. He has been quoted as saying that the accident was his fault.—ED.
I'm glad Billy Tubbs has a sense of humor about the I JOG WITH COACH TUBBS T shirts with tire tracks on the back now being seen on the campus of Oklahoma State. Considering that Tubbs's team hasn't lost to Oklahoma State in two seasons, it would seem he has the last laugh.
Fort Wayne, Ind.
I agree with Tim McBride's comments (19TH HOLE, July 18) in praise of the feats of Roberto Duran. Yet I cannot help but think of Henry Armstrong, who won titles in three different weights—feather, welter and light—at a time when there was only one division at most weights (no junior or super) and only one champion (no WBC or WBA, and no inexperienced crown holders). Armstrong also fought middleweight champion Ceferino Garcia to a 10-round draw in a title bout that many thought Armstrong won—amazing for a fighter who first won a crown as featherweight. If Armstrong were fighting today, he would have won six titles and fought for a seventh!
JOHN NICHOLAS SKIOTES
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.