Muhammad Ali was an athlete with an undeniable desire to be the greatest (POINT AFTER, July 1). In my opinion, his goal was accomplished, and he has paid the price. With the notable exception of Rocky Marciano, how many heavyweight champions have been able to recognize the ideal time to walk away from boxing? Certainly Ali fought too long, but to make that pronouncement now is the epitome of hindsight. Should he have retired before taking George Foreman's punishment along the ropes in Zaire? Should he have thought better of fighting tough Joe Frazier in Manila? Perhaps, but he would have deprived himself and boxing of two of his greatest moments.
I am also an admirer of the frequently controversial work of Rick Telander, but please, Rick, do not call Ali a fraud, a clown, a dancing minstrel or a willing victim. Ali remains a revered man who was perhaps history's greatest heavyweight and certainly boxing's greatest promoter.
Downers Grove, Ill.
I am sure it was just a coincidence that in the same issue you wrote about Ali you also reported on the near death of Nigerian boxer Akeem Anifowoshe (SCORECARD). The bloody pictures of his fight with Robert Quiroga made me stop and ask, At what price sport? It is time to end the carnage of boxing.
New York City
The Joys of Summer Camp
Kudos to Alexander Wolff for his fine story about going to camp (Hello, Muddah, July 8). All the socializing and schooling in the world don't amount to a hill of beans compared with the value of summer camp. The memories and lessons learned are priceless.
The shame of it all is that such wonderful educational institutions, which instill the virtues of teamwork, tolerance and appreciation for the out-of-doors, are now under siege because of well-meaning parents with a different orientation: forcing their children to become grown-up, sophisticated and specialized instead of letting them relax and grow in a less pressurized world where the smoke of campfires still smells sweet and the loon still shrieks at night. It was great to be one of the guys in a simpler and, yes, better time.
L. CHARLES LONG JR.
While a student at the University of Massachusetts, I became a victim of the behavior described in Austin Murphy's article Unsportsmanlike Conduct (July 1). One spring during final exams, my roommate and I had our books stolen. In the likelihood that whoever took them would try to sell them, we went to the campus bookstore and alerted the manager. Within the hour the culprits, three football players, were apprehended by the store's security guard. The guard called the university police, but while we were waiting for them, the three players left. The following evening the university police called to say we had to come down and retrieve our books. We weren't even asked if we wanted to press charges. The incident was dismissed, and the players apparently didn't receive so much as a game suspension.
PAUL E. RALSTON
Murphy scoffs at the suggestion that student-athletes steal because they have too much free time during the off-season. If that leads to stealing, he says, the offenders belong in day-care centers, not universities. It is a point well taken.
But Murphy then lends support to the theory that these young adults commit crimes because they are not provided with sufficient spending money through their athletic scholarships. I, too, believe athletes in major-revenue sports should receive more money, but I fail to see how a student who steals out of greed is better suited for university life than one who steals out of boredom.
Maybe coaches should take a closer look at the people they are inviting into their programs. Believe it or not, there are young people out there who can live on free room and board plus $250 a month without breaking the law. I don't know what their 40-yard-dash times are, though.
Sioux Falls, S.Dak.
Since when is it the university's responsibility to compensate an athlete for the unfortunate fact that he was born into a disadvantaged socioeconomic situation? Athletes should stop crying about what they don't have and start appreciating the opportunities they do have to better their lives.
VANCE T. NYE
FOCUS ON SPORTS
Against Foreman in Zaire in '74, Ali absorbed punishment but provided moments to savor.
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