I applaud Steve Robinson for his point after (June 6) on continuing education for jocks. Young athletes should look for a college or university that can guarantee payment for the remainder of their education if they should fail to earn their degree within their eligibility period. Many major league baseball contracts now include a clause that guarantees payment for college courses during the off-season. And some young players negotiate lump sums to be used for their college education once their professional playing days are over. I think universities and colleges need to give serious consideration to Robinson's proposal. I have shown the essay to all of my cohorts at this college.
St. Mary of the Plains College
Dodge City, Kans.
I was impressed by Steve Robinson's clarity of thought as well as his conciseness. Interestingly. Bill Russell, one of the fired coaches pictured on the cover of the June 6 issue, stated in an earlier issue of SI (Success Is a Journey, June 8, 1970), "No college should grant an athletic scholarship unless it can also offer the guarantee that that young man will graduate.... If this assurance cannot be made, then the college obviously is insincere in asking the boy to represent it on the athletic field."
CHARLES S. WATERS
Once again, Joe Paterno and Penn State have demonstrated their enlightened approach to higher education and college athletics. They've joined the consortium of colleges and universities that have already agreed to finance former scholarship athletes who wish to return to campus to earn their degrees.
J. PATRICK HERALD
It's outrageous to suggest that colleges continue to pay for an athlete's education until he or she finally earns a degree. The student-athlete has already received four or five years of free tuition, room, board, books, etc., and has been more catered to than most students. When the playing stops, so should the free ride. If it's such a great idea for athletes to get free tuition after their classes graduate, why not demand the same thing for drama majors or members of the band? Why not? Because it's a cockeyed idea.
It would be grand if all student-athletes could earn degrees or, for that matter, if every person could earn a diploma, but the key word is earn. When I was in college (Michigan, 1981-85). the athletes with the most exposure (i.e., those in men's football and basketball) generally treated school as an afterthought. There were some notable exceptions—Stefan Humphries (He Came Out Picture Perfect, June 4, 1984) comes to mind—but as I saw it, more time was spent at the bar than on the books.
College tuition is already beyond the means of many families. Why should the competent student have to pay even more to help foot the bill for a mediocre student? Most course loads taken by big-time student-athletes are laughable. Athletes on scholarships are given a tremendous opportunity, thanks to their ability to play a game. If they want to waste such a chance, a chance many students will never get, the choice is theirs.
TOLSON'S EXAMPLE (CONT.)
After reading Jill Lieber's story on former basketball star Dean Tolson (Never Too Old To Learn, May 30), I realized how important it is to get good grades in school. I am a high school student and play baseball and basketball, and I never really understood that not everyone makes the big time.
Dean Tolson said, "When I become a coach, if I see a Dean Tolson, I won't recruit him, I'll move on to the next kid. It's not fair to the kid or to the school."
I disagree. Tolson was given the opportunity and another chance. Why would he deny others the chance that he had? Why not try to show the kid where and how Tolson went wrong, so he can benefit from Tolson's mistakes? If Tolson wants to become a good basketball coach, he had better learn that sometimes you have to coach not only in the gym but in life as well.
RODNEY B. RAMSEUR
Woensdrecht Air Base, The Netherlands
Rick Reilly's story (The Missing Links, June 13) touches the very heart and soul of the hacker and his chosen purgatory, the public links. The antics of the regulars at the Ponkapoag Golf Club in Canton, Mass., are no doubt repeated all across the nation, the only differences being the regional changes in insults and accents. Not mentioned was one of the tactics employed by the gang I play with. First, there's the polite information given to the hitter regarding hazards he should avoid, such as the lake on the left or the low-hanging branches on the right. Then, there's the question asked of the hitter—at the most crucial moment (read: the shot for the most money)—as to whether he inhales or exhales at the top of his swing. Thanks again for shining a light on the people who give golf life.
JOHN A. GOSSETT
It's great to see muni players recognized. Ziggy, Cementhead, Socks and Bluto can play with our foursome anytime.
Congratulations to Alexander Wolff on a fine piece on the Harvard-Yale Regatta (Oars and Old Ivy, June 6). As a former Harvard oarsman (1967-71) who rowed against Yale four times on the Thames and who continues to row today, I agree with those who have described the two-week preparation for the Race, as well as the Race itself, as a marvelous and unique experience. Among other things, the time spent at Red Top gives one a chance to build lifetime friendships with fellow oarsmen.
Rowing is a sport for athletes who individually seek perfection of a repeated movement and who also seek perfect synchrony with the seven other members of the boat. Added to this is the challenge of pushing one's body beyond limits one previously considered unimaginable.
ROGER A. BROOKS
WRESTLING PADRE (CONT.)
This letter concerns your article (A Ring and a Prayer. Dec. 21) on Father Sergio Gutierrez of Xometla. Mexico—also known as the masked Fray Tormenta (Brother Tempest)—and his efforts to build an orphanage for the 86 children in his care. In response to your story, some 60 Amoco dealers and jobbers in the Carolinas joined together to donate one cent per gallon from their sales of Amoco Ultimate Lead Free Premium gasoline during the month of April to help the good father build that orphanage. Assisted by direct donations from the Amoco Oil Company and its employees, the dealers and jobbers raised a total of $25,853. Father Gutierrez needs at least $65,000 to build a suitable dormitory, not including furnishings.
I was privileged to present the check—that's me in the blazer in the picture (below)—on the steps of St. Michael's Church in Xometla on May 18. I thank Allan Goud—he's the one in the white shirt behind Father Gutierrez and me—of the American School Foundation in Mexico City for making all the arrangements. Also presented were two soccer balls, three Frisbees and 60 Amoco hats.
You will note from the picture that Father Gutierrez is on crutches. His ankle was broken on May 15 during a tag-team wrestling match in Sail Antonio, Texas. An opponent threw a metal chair as Gutierrez was climbing into the ring, and it hit the padre on the ankle. Although limping, Gutierrez completed the match, making the pin that gave his team the victory. He hopes to be back in action later in the summer.
Amoco Oil Company
COURTESY AMERICAN SCHOOL FOUNDATION
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.