Braves and Tomahawks
In response to the justifiable outcry of Native Americans over the Atlanta Braves' name and the offensive use of the tomahawk symbol (POINT AFTER, Oct. 28), I suggest the Braves remove the tomahawk from their players' uniforms and drop the s from their name. With the Braves' description on the Turner Broadcasting System as America's Team, their red, white and blue uniforms and the upsurge in American patriotism, a name change to the Atlanta Brave would be a natural.
Mount Vernon, N.Y.
In his POINT AFTER, Rick Reilly has lost sight of the fact that team names and mascots were often chosen to reflect strength and courage. Hence lions, tigers, bears, eagles, pirates and Indians became symbols of our heroes. Native Americans should be proud that they were deemed worthy of such recognition.
It is a fact of history that Native Americans wore paint on their faces, sang in chanting rhythm and beat drums. It is unfortunate that we have stereotyped these people, but that is human nature. We have stereotyped almost every group. Think about your perception of New Yorkers, Californians, Texans and any other group the movies have pegged.
Changing team names and mascots to appease a special-interest group is wrong.
CHARLES W. HERDMAN
San Marcos, Texas
Why now? Since the early '80s the Seminoles of Florida State have been doing the chop. How long has the NFL team in our nation's capital been called the Redskins? Let's hope the Braves are not pressured into changing their nickname or the way their fans support them. If this happens, what's to stop atheists from saying they are offended by the names of the California Angels or the New Orleans Saints?
D. A. STANCIL
Hickory Knob, S.C.
French Canadians don't seem offended by Vancouver's Canucks. Irish Americans appear unperturbed by the Boston Celtics' besotted leprechaun logo. No one in Connecticut is bothered by New York's use of the word Yankee, a hateful epithet used by Southerners 100 years ago.
New Britain, Conn.
To those who assert that naming teams after an aspect of Indian culture honors the Indians, I say it follows that many groups whose history of courage and perseverance in the face of gross adversity should be similarly honored. Nicknames like Slaves, Auschwitzers, Cambodians, etc. do not exist, although many of these people were also unusually brave.
North Platte, Neb.
It was a pleasure to read Austin Murphy's excellent story about Washington State kicker Jason Hanson (Best in His Field, Oct. 21). NFL teams must be drooling at the prospect of drafting Hanson, because a punter-kicker can free up a roster spot. Looking at the current season, that means a team could have had an extra quarterback, receiver or defensive back to shore up those injury-plagued positions. Why not Hanson for the Heisman?
KEITH G. HOEKEMA
Oscar De La Hoya
Richard O'Brien's article about Oscar De La Hoya is a well-deserved tribute to a fine young man (El Mejor, Oct. 21). In October 1989 I took a team of national Golden Gloves champions to Tampere, Finland, to compete in an annual tournament of tough boxing involving some 200 seasoned fighters from 11 countries. Oscar, then a 16-year-old high school junior, was our 125-pound representative. He took the gold medal by winning all four of his bouts by unanimous decision. In the championship match Oscar soundly beat a 23-year-old sergeant from the Soviet Army Team who had more than 200 fights under his belt.
Oscar was voted the outstanding boxer of the tournament, quite a feat for a boy among all those men. As a team, the U.S. Golden Glovers won three gold medals, out of a possible 11, and three bronzes. At the awards banquet, someone had to run out to find Oscar. He was at the local McDonald's rewarding himself after a week of watching his weight.
President, Indiana Golden Gloves
Longest Field Goals
You noted in your story about Washington State kicker Jason Hanson (Best in His Field, Oct. 21) that Hanson's 62-yard field goal against UNLV in September was the longest in a college game since the 1989 rule change abolishing the kicking tee. Who had the longest ever?
•Three men are tied at 67 yards: Russell Erxleben of Texas was the first to achieve that distance (Oct. 1, 1977), followed by Steve Little of Arkansas (Oct. 15, 1977) and Joe Williams of Wichita State (Oct. 21, 1978). As fate would have it, Erxleben, who also played five pro seasons for the New Orleans Saints, made less pleasant news last month, when he was indicted in two Texas counties on felony bad-check charges. Erxleben denies the charges.—ED.
WALTER IOOSS JR.
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.