The Tyson Trial
I couldn't agree more with Sonja Step-toe's analysis of the Mike Tyson rape trial (POINT AFTER, Feb. 24). Tyson got what he deserved. But when a Donald Frump comes up with a self-serving scheme to buy Tyson's freedom, and an African-American minister circulates a petition to influence the court to be lenient to Tyson because he is a "role model," I can't help wondering where our values have gone. There are better role models for young African-Americans than Mike Tyson.
STEPHEN M. SCHECHTER
New York City
Steptoe's article is one of the most interesting and perceptive pieces I have seen in your fine magazine. However, I differ with her reaction to the defense strategy employed by attorney Vincent Fuller. Considering Tyson's background and reputation, it was the only chance of winning a hopeless case. Still, Steptoe's point that such a defense perpetuates the stereotype of the "savage black man run amok" is well taken and sadly all too valid.
While many of us would disagree with the approach that was taken by Tyson's attorneys, I also disagree with Steptoe's assessment. Tyson was presented not as "a vulgar, socially inept, sex-obsessed black athlete" but rather as a vulgar, socially inept, sex-obsessed athlete who happens to be black. The difference is enormous.
RONALD M. LAXER
It is Tyson, not Fuller, whose actions serve to reinforce the stereotype. Additionally, most criminal attorneys will tell you that it is better to disclose the negative aspects of your case up front than to have the jury learn of them for the first time from the prosecution.
DANIEL P. COONAN
El Segundo, Calif.
U.S. Women at Albertville
How refreshing to see two women athletes, speed skater Bonnie Blair and figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi, on consecutive covers (Feb. 24 and March 2). I also appreciated SI's look at why the U.S. women won nine medals in these Winter Olympics, compared with only two for the U.S. men (Women of Mettle, March 2). It's not such a surprise that the U.S. women did well. Since 1960 women have won at least half the American medals in five of the past nine Winter Games, although they competed in only about half as many events as the men did. This year additional events for women gave additional chances for women to win, which mogul skier Donna Weinbrecht and short-track speed skater Cathy Turner seized.
DONNA DE VARONA
Women's Sports Foundation
New York City
Ray LeBlanc truly was the hero of the U.S. Olympic hockey team (Plenty Unified Enough, March 2). His graciousness and honesty in defeat matched his tremendous play on the ice. Unfortunately, some of his teammates were poor losers with their unjust criticism of the officials. The referees did no more than call the penalties they saw, and Team USA committed far too many foolish infractions.
New Milford, Conn.
Steve Rushin was right about the Ugly Americans on the U.S. hockey team. It wasn't their lack of ability against less than the world's best, but rather their crybaby attitude typical of Americans when events do not go their way.
We were astonished at the lack of prominence given to Martina Navratilova for surpassing Chris Evert's record for career singles championships in professional tennis. She broke a major record and was given one paragraph (FOR THE RECORD, Feb. 24). Jim Courier, on the other hand, reached No. 1 in the rankings and was given an entire article in the same issue (Top Hat). His accomplishment will be repeated many times by many others. Navratilova's record may never be broken.
La Feria, Texas
Padded Helmets (cont.)
I wanted to add some information to your editor's note about Buffalo safety Mark Kelso's "gazoo" helmet (LETTERS, March 2). Kelso is actually wearing a ProCap, which the Bills have dubbed a gazoo. ProCap is a lightweight pad that attaches to the outside of a standard football helmet and is made of a durable polyurethane, not, as you said, of foam rubber. Kelso is the only NFL player wearing a ProCap, but it is used in almost a thousand college and high school football programs.
Your readers might be interested in this trivia question: Who was the last NFL player before Kelso to wear a soft pad on the outside of his helmet?
Answer: Hall of Fame linebacker Willie Lanier of the Kansas City Chiefs. In the late 1960s he wore a helmet modified by the equipment manager, who affixed a mohawk-style foam rubber strip down the middle of the shell. Lanier chose to display this helmet as his memento at the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
President, Protective Sports Equipment
Lanier was so taken with his unorthodox helmet that he donated it to the Hall of Fame.
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