I read with great pleasure Robert Sullivan's POINT AFTER (Aug. 17) on keeping open Walden Pond (pictured below). The essay brought back fond memories of my English literature classes at Marquette and Thoreau's classic work. Though I have never had the pleasure of visiting Walden Pond, I liken it to a beautiful retreat here in Wisconsin called Fox Lake. What a shame it would be to unreasonably restrict access to national treasures like these. I wholeheartedly agree with Sullivan that ending Walden's status as a swimming hole would be too extreme.
This July, I also "answered the siren's call to Walden Pond," but I saw a different picture from the one Robert Sullivan drew. I saw crowds cluttering the banks of this beautiful pond. There must have been at least 2,000 people using (and sometimes abusing) the land. I gather that Sullivan advocates that man should not merely use land, but that he should respect it, as Thoreau did. Most of the people I saw appeared to have no respect for nature, and the one or two people I talked to had no idea who Henry David Thoreau was. As for boys singing America, the Beautiful, the only singing I heard was by the Beastie Boys on jam boxes. I say keep Walden Pond open only to those who respect it and understand its historical significance.
PAN AM GAMES
Your article Upset Time (Aug. 31) raised the question of whether the U.S. should continue to participate in the Pan Am Games because many U.S. athletes view them as just a warmup for the Olympics or world championships. As a volunteer who proudly worked at the athletes' village during this year's Pan Am Games, I believe that the U.S. must continue to participate.
One need only witness the camaraderie among the athletes of the 38 countries and the excitement of the medal winners from the smaller nations to realize the value of the Games and of U.S. participation in them. The vast majority of the participants from other nations were honored to be in the U.S., and in many instances they did not expect to win medals. They were there to compete. The Brazilian victory over the U.S. in basketball, while embarrassing for the U.S., was a shot in the arm for Brazil and many other countries.
It is a shame that politics overshadowed the success of the Games. I applaud Indianapolis for a job well done. How many cities could have pulled off the Pan Am Games with only 2½ years' preparation instead of the normal six?
GARY J. KNOWLES
In your article describing the National Long Course Swimming Championships (America's New Golden Girl, Aug. 10), a comparison was made between Janet Evans, America's latest world-record holder, and Donna de Varona. You said, "Not since 13-year-old Donna de Varona broke the world record in the 400 IM in 1960 has such a little swimmer made such a big splash." However, in the 1964 U.S. national championship held at Foothill College, Patty Caretto broke the world records for the 1,500-meter freestyle by 13.5 seconds and the 800-meter by 4.3 seconds. She did this at 13 years of age, when she was 5'1" and 102 pounds. (Evans was 15, 5'4" and 95 pounds, while de Varona was 5'2" and 102 pounds.) Patty went into the International Swimming Hall of Fame this past spring with a total of seven world records in five events. She ruled the world in distance swimming from 1964 to 1966, when another young girl, Debbie Meyer, came along.
U.S. Olympic Swim Coach, 1984
Coach, University of Alabama
Contrary to what you suggest in your story on the national long course championships, Steve Bentley, who swam the 200-meter breaststroke in the U.S. record time of 2:15.30, did join the Golden West College swimming team the year after he gave up drugs. Among other achievements, he led the Rustlers to-the state community college championship and set a national community college record in the 200-yard breaststroke of 2:03.4. He was a fine representative of our school.
Golden West College
Huntington Beach, Calif.
Regarding claims that the dramatic increase in home run hitting in the major leagues this season can be attributed at least in part to a livelier ball (INSIDE BASEBALL, Aug. 17), I recently came across yet another article that brought that same charge. According to the piece, nine of 10 major league players said that the "long-distance performances" in recent years have been almost entirely the result of the "lively ball." One pitcher maintained that he could tell a lively ball from a regulation one simply by handling it. The date of the article: June 18, 1922.
The Montana Standard
The Arctic char is certainly an exciting game fish (The Lady in Pink, Aug. 24). I fished for them 30 years ago while helping to construct the DEW line. When they first came out of hibernation from under the freshwater ice, they were ravenous. Sometimes a lure—I liked to use a Dardevle—cast into a dense school would produce a rush that pushed the lure above the surface of the water. And a couple of the char were so strong that when they were hooked they broke two of my telescopic rods.
KINNICK'S LEGACY (CONT.)
There is an interesting parallel in your Aug. 31 issue. In LETTERS, Ed Weigel describes the air show over the Meiji Park stadium in Tokyo in 1945, and further on, Ron Fimrite writes a beautiful article about Nile Kinnick Jr. (Nile Kinnick). Meiji stadium was renamed Nile Kinnick Stadium by the military (it's now known as National Stadium), and in 1946 and '47 I ran in many track meets there as a high hurdler for the 11th Airborne Division. The hurdles were stamped TOKYO OLYMPIAD 1940; much of the athletic facility had been constructed for Games that never occurred.
HARRY B. COYLE
As a student during the 1960s at Nile C. Kinnick High School in Yokohama, Japan (the school was located on the Naval Housing Activity, where Navy personnel and their families resided), I often looked at Kinnick's photograph in the hallway and wondered about the gridiron great and deceased naval hero for whom our high school was named. Your feature on the '39 Heisman winner was informative and inspiring, calling attention to a student, athlete and hero who exemplified the best in each of those categories. Thank you for opening my eyes to the legacy that Kinnick left.
THE REVEREND STEPHEN M. NORDEN
EARLY THUNDERBIRDS (CONT.)
With sincere respect for Ed Weigel and his noteworthy accomplishments (LETTERS, Aug. 31), I would argue that the first "publicly recognized" military flight-demonstration team dates back to the late 1920s. The Three Musketeers, a team of U.S. Army flyers put together just for the occasion and led by Jimmy Doolittle, demonstrated the ability to fly inverted—thanks to modified carburetors—at the National Air Races in Spokane in 1927.
The U.S. Navy's Three Sea Hawks was probably the first formally organized group. It performed at the National Air Races in 1928 in Los Angeles and was in great demand at other events. Other teams of the period were the High Hatters of Navy VF-1, which flew tied together by rope; the Red Rippers of VF-5B; the Three Flying Fish; and the Three T'Gallants'ls.
The first military team to carry non-regulation markings designed strictly for show (as do the Air Force's Thunder-birds), and also the first to gain presidential and congressional acclaim, was an 18-plane group, Marine Fighting Squadron VF-9M, formed in 1930. In terms of current standards of military organization. I believe this could be considered the first officially organized flight-demonstration team.
I have a candidate for your 1987 Sportsman of the Year: cyclist Stephen Roche of Ireland. As you reported in FOR THE RECORD (Sept. 14), Roche completed cycling's Grand Slam on Sept. 6 when he won the World Professional Road Championship. Earlier he had victories in the Tour of Italy and the Tour de France. Only once before has a cyclist—Belgium's immortal Eddy Merckx in 1974—won the sport's three premier events in the same year. In addition Roche, who has a friendly and modest manner, has provided welcome proof to fans and participants in cycling and in all other sports that nice guys can finish first.
TERRELL W. OXFORD
RICK FRIEDMAN/BLACK STAR
Letters to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and should be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020-1393.