I read with particular interest the article by Richard Demak about Kathy Ormsby's apparent suicide attempt ("And Then She Just Disappeared," June 16). As a high school athlete (I was the quarterback on our B-division champion football team and also played guard on the basketball team), I suffer, and possibly many other athletes do also, from the same kind of pressures that she apparently felt—of being No. 1, being in the spotlight all the time and being looked upon as an example for others. These pressures come from all different directions: from parents, coaches, teammates and classmates, and from within yourself. Other people may not know—or may not want to know—that they are applying pressure on you, but believe me they are. I can certainly understand how they might have affected Kathy.
JOHN WALSH (age 18)
We in North Carolina are shocked and saddened by Kathy Ormsby's apparent suicide attempt and resultant paralysis. I feel, however, that the pressure to win each race caused her to jump. That very same kind of pressure caused me to quit track in high school. The pressure to win got to me. I still run, but for health reasons only.
Kathy had the same high school track coach that I had some years earlier, Charlie Bishop, an excellent coach who taught us all how to be winners. It was after he left Pine-crest (my school) for Richmond Senior High in Rockingham (Kathy's school) in 1977 that I began to feel pressure from other sources to go on winning each and every race. I feel bad for Kathy because I once came close to suicide myself.
Southern Pines, N.C.
I hope Kathy Ormsby's experience will serve as a red flag for coaches, sports leaders and parents and make them look out for their overachievers or "model student-athletes." The stories we read and hear of paragons of society gone awry should make us aware that preventive psychological guidance should be provided for these people and their parents. Extreme "success" can often mask severe neurosis or mental anguish. Ormsby and others like her need to know that they are loved for who they are, not for what they did or did not do in competition.
Solana Beach, Calif.
Thanks for another fine story by Jack McCallum on the NBA championships (No Stopping 'Em, June 16). Although our Rockets lost, we are still proud of them. They had a tremendous year, and there's no shame in losing to the best team. Few teams excel at as many of the fundamentals of the game as do the Celtics. Their shooting, passing, defense and unselfish teamwork are something for even a Rocket fan to marvel at.
However, it is a shame that so much non-basketball activity detracted from the games. No one in Houston with any brains (yes, there are a few of us, Boston) condoned Ralph Sampson's behavior in Game 5. Too many of us remember the horrible sight of the Rockets' Rudy Tomjanovich's broken face after he was punched by a frustrated and angry Kermit Washington during a 1977 game against the Lakers (Shattered and Shaken, Jan. 2, 1978). Although Sampson later said he was sorry the incident occurred, he should think about what happened to Tomjanovich and be grateful he wasn't apologizing to Jerry Sichting in a hospital room.
Then there is Larry Bird. What a talent. Too bad he doesn't have the humility and class to match. He is pure art on the floor, but a pure bore to the ear.
Bravo! I say this in reference to the SCORECARD editorial "Bad Call" (June 16). CBS's Dick Stockton was out of line in his commentary on Ralph Sampson's ejection for fighting in Game 5. However, I hope that the media will allow Sampson time to live down the incident. He will be a star for the remainder of his career, and that should be what the media focus on, not just one misplaced blowup.
Good call. Your editorial was an echo of my thoughts. I am glad someone took CBS's Stockton to task for his remarks.
HAROLD N. FATE
Mount Gilead, Ohio
It is true that Sampson threw the punch, but I think everyone's eyes were closed to what Sichting did. On the low post, he had both arms around Sampson for what seemed like a few seconds with no whistle being blown—right in front of the referee. A call there would have alleviated Sampson's frustration and perhaps prevented a fight. The second party should be ejected also.