THE MAGIC OF FLUTIE
A Perm State graduate and die-hard Nittany Lion supporter now living in Boston, I've had an opportunity to watch Doug Flutie play on numerous occasions, including his four outstanding performances against my alma mater. His competitiveness, quarterbacking skill and outlook on the sport have never ceased to impress me. John Underwood (It Wasn't A Fluke. It Was A Flutie, Dec. 3) was correct in stating, "It doesn't matter if he ever plays a down of pro football...." Flutie is the epitome of everything college athletics stands for. He will be more than missed.
ROBERT J. CLARKE
I hope that well be seeing a replay of your Dec. 3 cover when it comes time to announce the Sportsman of the Year. Other athletes may have performed as well as Doug Flutie in 1984, but none embodied the essence of sport in the way he did. Flutie brings a special human element to the playing field. He symbolizes what we all would like to be: someone who always tries his hardest, who doesn't give up and who can triumph against the longest of odds. He is a fierce competitor, a "winner," but never at the expense of sportsmanship. Most of all, Flutie has fun, and we have fun watching him. And in the end, isn't fun what sport is all about?
Has Flutiemania also struck SI? As Boston College fans, we appreciated John Underwood's account of the spectacular performance by Doug Flutie and his Eagle teammates against Miami. We also noticed that the article began on page 22 (Doug's jersey number). Was this a fluke, or is Flutie performing miracles beyond the control of SI's editors?
Chestnut Hill, Mass.
•The editors had full control over that one.—ED.
I applaud writer Jack McCallum and reporter Armen Keteyian on their article Everybody's Doin' It (Dec. 3). It's about time someone brought to light the fitness disease that grips so many Americans. It may be epidemic. I'm a 26-year-old former three-sport participant in high school who has been jogging, playing, lifting and stretching since 1976. Luckily for my body and, especially, my mind, I recently realized the negative effects of fitness fanaticism. It controlled my life. Rather than being an emotional release from the pressures of the day, running became an obsession, a duty around which everything else was planned. If I missed a day or two, I was a mental wreck. The same guilt feelings accompanied my Nautilus workouts.
On Nov. 8 I threw away my running shoes and began riding my 10-speed a few days a week—but only when I feel like it—and started a sensible program of push-ups, sit-ups and ballet-type stretches. My legs and joints thank me every morning, and I haven't known such peace of mind in years!
There's a reason why you never see a smiling runner: Nobody really likes it.
Huntingdon Valley, Pa.
Your article on fitness gadgets was factual and thorough. As an 80-year-old physician, let me remind your readers of an exercise that is safe, requires no gadgets and, if done properly and briskly, is aerobic: walking.
A.M. LIBASCI, M.D.
You complain that the message of aerobics and fitness "is spread by prophets with more marquee value than expertise." If so, then why did you perpetuate the inequity? You had a golden opportunity to provide a service to your readers by telling about the many exercise physiologists and technologists who have developed safe, effective programs based on conclusive research. Unfortunately, the press focuses on luminaries who haven't paid their educational dues. I hope you will correct this deficiency in the future. While not well known, I am proud to sign myself.
DONNA M. ANDERSON, B.S., M.S.
Certified Fitness Instructor
Fitness Consultant, General Foods Corp.
Jack McCallum may be surprised by the increase in sales of rowing machines, but I'm not. It's the easiest way to exercise every major muscle group and to increase cardiovascular fitness at the same time.
I take exception to McCallum's use of the 1983 world championship results as a barometer of rowing as an American sport. The U.S. men's and women's eights won silver and gold medals, respectively, at the 1984 Olympic Games. Both beat the East Germans and set world best times on a still-water (no current) course in the Lucerne, Switzerland regatta a month before the Games. (Rowing doesn't keep world records.)
Our international teams are strong, and the number of registered competitive rowers has doubled in the last five years. Rowing may not be a "major" American sport yet, but McCallum should be ready for a few more surprises.
KATHRYN M. REITH
Director of Communications
United States Rowing Association
Your picture of Kathy Smith reminded us of how much we look forward to your annual swimsuit issue. Here in Corvallis, we're severely depressed over coach Joe Avezzano's ouster, and the "gloriously chiseled" Smith is a real uplift. Please, put her in the 1985 swimsuit issue.
In the article Dear Chris (Nov. 26) Bill Brubaker leads off with a letter to Chris Washburn from head basketball coach Dean Smith of the University of North Carolina. For some reason the word "academically" was omitted from the sentence "Let me encourage you to work very hard [academically] during your high school career...."
Unfortunately for Chris, his grades weren't high enough and he was not recruited by North Carolina after his junior year.
New Bern, N.C.
Bill Brubaker is sharp in his criticisms of "false impressions" created by certain basketball coaches regarding their programs. I hope he can take it as well as he dishes it out, because he created a false impression of his own when he referred to "Bill Foster, then coach at South Carolina, now at Miami...."
Bill Foster is still head coach at South Carolina. The other Bill Foster, formerly of Clemson, is now at Miami.
But that's O.K. After all, Brubaker is only human, like Lefty and the rest.
ST. JOHN'S MULLIN (CONT.)
How good is Chris Mullin (Just A Guy From Da Naybuhhood, Nov. 26)? He's this good:
When I first had the pleasure of seeing him play, I was a 36-year-old two-sport fan—baseball and pro football. Then I attended a University of Connecticut vs. St. John's Big East matchup. When I saw Mullin in motion, I knew he was something special. He's a joy to watch. Every aspect of his game is superior, and played with intensity, grace and high style.
What makes Mullin an outstanding player is that he constantly rewards and pleases the fan. Just when you think he's at the absolute top of his craft, Mo makes a move that puts a smile on your face. What brings him to the level of greatness, however, is that he is so consummate a performer that he has the uncommon ability to convert the casual observer into an ardent fan of the game itself.
Chris Mullin is much more than one of the best at what he does. He is good for the game. That is true excellence.
JOHN THOMPSON (CONT.)
As a reporter covering Georgetown's first NCAA championship game in 1982, I was surprised by John Thompson's angry response when he was asked about the possibility that he might become the first black coach to win the college basketball title. Now that Thompson has expressed that anger to John Wideman, I still am.
Nobody posing these questions meant them in any way to be "insulting" or to imply there was "a great big blank before the first one came along." The point was precisely that "plenty of other black coaches could have won an NCAA championship if they had ever had the opportunity."
Thompson could have decried the racism that had prevented this from happening. He could have paid a long-overdue tribute to the great black coaches of the past whose struggle through the years was now paying off in his own moment in the spotlight. He could have taken advantage of the national attention he was receiving to give an excellent lesson in a part of American sports history. And he would have found many of us who would have been more than happy to print it. Instead, Thompson just got mad.
Thompson tells Wideman he sometimes feels sorry for reporters. That is something that works both ways.
All right, you SI sleuths, what is that bump under the sock on Doug Flutie's left leg in your Dec. 3 cover photo and also in the picture at the top of page 22? Is it a bug for intercepting defense signals at ground level or some kind of electrical leg stimulator to remind him to push off on the other foot?
JOHN C. KOPPEN
I was a quarterback in college, and when our offense was not on the field, I would keep my mouth guard inside my stocking, pressed against my calf, so I could easily find it before running back onto the field (many quarterbacks do not strap their mouth guards to their face masks). Could the lump inside Doug Flutie's left stocking be his mouth guard?
•Indeed it is.—ED.
I would in no way want to diminish what Doug Flutie has done for college football. However, the "play of the year" may have been an illegal one. If the bulge in Doug's left sock is what I think it is—his mouthpiece—and if he had it there for the final play, he was in violation of NCAA Rule 1-4-4d: "AH players shall wear the following mandatory equipment...An intra-oral mouthpiece that covers all upper jaw teeth."
This violation is rarely called for a penalty. But say Flutie had been given a five-yard delay-of-game penalty. Well, he would have thrown a 69-yarder for the winning TD.
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