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19TH HOLE: The readers take over
August 25, 1958
MOSCOW: FACTS AND FIGURES Sirs:You recently ran a chart comparing Rafer Johnson with the greatest decathlon men before him, including Jim Thorpe (SI, Aug. 11).
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August 25, 1958

19th Hole: The Readers Take Over

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EVENT

JOHNSON ('58)

RECORD

DIFF.

100 meters

10.6

10.1

.5

Broad jump

23'6¼"

26'8¼"

3 ft. 2 in.

Shotput

48'2¼"

63'2"

14 ft. 11¾ in.

High jump

5'10¾"

7'½"

1 ft. 1¾ in.

400 meters

48.2

45.2

3

110 hurdles

14.9

13.4

1.5

Discus

160'11⅞"

194'6"

33 ft. 6⅛ in.

Pole vault

12'11⅞"

15'8¼"

2 ft. 8⅜ in.

Javelin

238'1⅞"

281'2"

43 ft.⅛ in.

1,500 meters

5:05.0

3:40.6

1:24.4

EVENT

THORPE ('12)

RECORD

DIFF.

100 meters

11.2

10.6

.6

Broad jump

22'2¼"

24'11¾"

2 ft. 9½ in.

Shotput

42'5½"

51 ft.

8 ft. 6½ in.

High jump

6'1½"

6'7"

5½ in.

400 meters

52.2

48.2

4

110 hurdles

15.6

15

.6

Discus

121'3⅞"

156'1⅜"

34 ft. 9½ in.

Pole vault

10'7⅞"

13'2¼"

2 ft. 6⅜ in.

Javelin

149'11⅛"

204'5½"

54 ft. 6⅜ in.

1,500 meters

4:40.1

3:55.8

44.3

MOSCOW: FACTS AND FIGURES
Sirs:
You recently ran a chart comparing Rafer Johnson with the greatest decathlon men before him, including Jim Thorpe (SI, Aug. 11).

I take exception to your conclusion that Johnson, because of better times and distances, is the greatest ever. I submit that a time-for-time and distance-for-distance comparison without regard for a 46-year time lapse is a poor comparison indeed.

Therefore, I have prepared a chart comparing Johnson and Thorpe with their fellow competitors. I have compared, with the help of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, H. Archie Richardson's Little Black Book and some reporters' calculations, Johnson's best against the current world records and Thorpe's best against the records of 1912. The results show that in six out of 10 events Thorpe's marks were closer to the existing world record than were those of Johnson in Moscow.

I think Rafer Johnson is the greatest all-round athlete in the world today and a credit to his race and his country. But I don't think he is the greatest ever.
JERRY A. BURNS
Santa Monica, Calif.

•Was Einstein a greater natural scientist than Newton? Yes, if the yardstick is man's approximation to the ultimate truth. No, if a man is judged by his times and his contemporaries. There is, as Roger Bannister pointed out last week in his reflections on the Dublin milers, a physiological absolute which, axiomatically, runners will never reach. In our opinion, he who comes closest to that ultimate barrier is by definition the greatest athlete.—ED.

Sirs:
With the tremendous uproar over Rafer Johnson's remarkable performance in the decathlon in the meet with Russia, my curiosity has reached the breaking point. I have never been able to figure out the method of giving points in the decathlon.
BOB PFEIFER
Peoria, Ill.

•The International Amateur Athletic Federation has worked out a "performance curve" applicable to every track and field event. In the running events the curve shows the mathematical relation between actual performances over different distances, expressing the relationship in terms of change of speed per 100 meters. From this curve 78 pages of statistical tables have been worked out covering virtually all possible times and distances of all events. Shown below is that section which shows the relationship among eight running events and the point value for 21 equivalent performance times in each. The table shows, for example, that a time of 3 minutes over 1,000 meters is the performance equivalent of 38.01 minutes over the 10,000-meter distance. Both are awarded 331 points out of 1,500 maximum.—ED.

Sirs:
Why didn't Vladimir Kuts run the 5,000 or 10,000 meters for Russia in the meet with the U.S.?

Will he run in the European championships at Stockholm? How do his 5,000-meter times compare with Thomas' three miles? Next year when the Russians come here will the distances be English or metric?
PATRICK PALMER
Lansing, Mich.

•Kuts was out with a stomach ailment. For the Stockholm games, too, which started August 19, Kuts was similarly unavailable. When he set his record of 13:35 for the 5,000-meter run last October in Rome no official time was taken at the three-mile mark, but observers conservatively estimated the time as 13:10. Thomas' time was 13:10.8. No official plans have been set for meeting at Philadelphia next year, but the distances will probably be metric, as in most international events.—ED.

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