Frank Deford has once again displayed a rare and poignant sensitivity. His views (One Man's Opinion: Cheer, Cheer, Cheer for the Home Team, Aug. 13) echo my own and those of so many people with whom I have spoken these past two weeks. I regret that we as Americans have not been more gracious in victory.
Mr. Deford, your opinion piece wins the gold medal in the Olympic article competition. It also sets an American record in Olympic frankness.
Frank Deford's complaint over American hype gave much-needed perspective to balance all the twinkle-toe publicity. However, this well-substantiated view was marred by cynical sniping worse than all the flag-waving. To malign hardworking athletes by labeling them "canonized little dolls," or to attack the people of Los Angeles for watching the Olympic coverage (instead of going to Disneyland), seems far more childish than cheering for U.S. teams.
How sad that Frank Deford finds the unabashed enthusiasm for our home team so distasteful! With American athletes competing successfully on American soil, how could he expect less? The U.S. hasn't been able to compete in the Summer Games for eight years, and I think the spectators were reveling in the achievements of our athletes, many of whom held on through four extra years of training to have the opportunity to compete. I can't deny that the ABC commentators did some flag-waving, but they do work for the American Broadcasting Company, don't they?
As for the poor sportsmanship Mr. Deford alluded to, I have seen and heard very little of it in the media. Has he forgotten the rousing ovation given to all the athletes during the opening ceremony?
I'm proud of all the athletes participating in the Games, but I'm a little prouder of the Americans.
What is Frank Deford's problem, anyhow? It's puzzling that he can write an inspiring story like The Toughest Coach There Ever Was (April 30), which symbolized, to me, a good deal of what makes America a great country, and then turn around and seem to be apologizing for being an American by writing One Man's Opinion. The man must suffer from extreme mood swings.
Your story on the U.S. men's and women's gymnastics teams (A Vault Without Fault, Aug. 13) was peerless. I admire the poise both teams showed under pressure. I've never been a fan of gymnastics—until these Olympics.
Now that the Olympics are finally over, Mary Lou Retton should come to be known as Mary Lou Ret "10." The name is well deserved after her performances in the women's all-around competition and the team competition. With her competitive spirit and patriotism, she will become a guiding light to the younger gymnasts.
Watching Mary Lou as she stepped on the platform, received her gold medal and started to sing The Star-Spangled Banner gave me an inspirational feeling. It was the greatest television event I'd ever witnessed.
It was obvious from your great pictures of Mary Lou Retton that she is some kind of superwoman. The only thing I couldn't figure out was how she hid her cape.
Kansas City, Mo.
Look out, Jack Lambert. We've found someone who's tougher than you. Move over, Pete Rose. We've discovered the Charlene Hustle of gymnastics. And look out hearts of the world, or Mary Lou Retton will break yours as she did mine. I love you, Mary Lou.
I enjoyed your story on Mary Lou Retton's accomplishments, but why did you fail to mention Julianne McNamara's gold medal on the uneven bars during the individuals and Kathy Johnson's bronze on the balance beam?
I really don't think it was necessary to publish a rear view of the Romanian women gymnasts. They would have been much prettier from the front.
RUTH E. ANDERSON
•See photograph below.—ED.
During something as delicate as a contractual impasse I am loath to respond to the press, yet I take special umbrage at the article by Jill Lieber (EXTRA POINTS, Aug. 13) regarding my situation. I was offended by her subtle attempts to degrade my ability and her vague reference to my unpopularity among my teammates and penchant for loquacious behavior, i.e., "yakking it up." But this is speculation and innuendo, and while it is irritating, it is a reporter's prerogative.
What galls me is the ignorance of the actual contract dealings. In 1982 I played out my option, making me a free agent. Not only was the contract signed prior to the 1983 season not technically a renegotiation, but it also was mutually decided between Raider management and myself that if I were to accrue All-Pro honors then it would be redone, hence the present course of events.
It was Jules Renard who once said, "If you are afraid of being lonely, don't try to be right." If this sort of expediency is typical of SI's reporting, then Lieber and associates will never be in want of company.
TODD J. CHRISTENSEN
El Segundo, Calif.
•The Raiders state that they do not renegotiate contracts after one year, and while they admit they discussed the possibility of changing the terms if Christensen earned All-Pro honors, they say they told him it would be "somewhere down the line."—ED.
In reference to your June 18 article on the French Open (Worthy Of Really High Fives), I wish to call your attention to a photograph of "the Navratilova entourage." In the caption I am mistakenly identified as "Zanova." In the story I am referred to as "Ana Zanova, the cook from Prague who fuels Navratilova with dumplings." I am neither Aja (it's not Ana) Zanova nor a dumpling-maker!
Aja Zanova is a former world figure-skating champion and is now chairman of Super-skates, an ice show, and a friend of Martina's. My husband and I have been close friends of Martina's for many years. Indeed, when she became a U.S. citizen, we celebrated with a party at our home in Beverly Hills. We are frequently her guests at tournaments.
COVER RECORDS (CONT.)
In 19TH HOLE (July 23), you stated that Jim Brown had the record for most time between appearances on SI covers. I wasn't around in 1960, but I have to assume that Rafer Johnson was on the cover after he won the decathlon at the Olympics in Rome that year. If he wasn't on the cover again until Aug. 6, 1984, wouldn't he be the new record holder for time between covers?
Palo Alto, Calif.
•Rafer Johnson went 23 years, 11 months between appearances on the cover of SI, breaking Jim Brown's record by eight months. Before the recent cover (above, right), Johnson was featured on the Sept. 5, 1960 cover (above, left) as the flag-bearer for the U.S. Olympic team in Rome.—ED.
The Romanian team took the stand with great delight after winning the gold.
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.