DEATH OF AN ATHLETE
Thank you for Jack McCallum's sensitive, compassionate and downright decent article about the death of Len Bias ("The Crudest Thing Ever", June 30). In this day and age, there are too many horror stories about drugs and athletes, but SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's job is to report and communicate what happens in the sports world as a whole—drugs included. I'd like to compliment SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for doing its job—nothing more, nothing less. It was a fine piece on a not-so-fine episode.
PHILIP O. CARDACI
West Milford, N.J.
Compliments are in order for the article on Len Bias. I was glad to see that it presented only the facts and did not dwell on degrading Bias for his actions. Some of the media had jumped to conclusions and used his death as a chance to show that drugs are prevalent in sports, when instead we should be mourning the loss of a great athlete.
Sadly, most people will inevitably remember Bias as that basketball player who overdosed, but we basketball fans will remember him simply as one of the great players in college history.
Maple Grove, Minn.
The tragedy of Len Bias's death has touched the sports world in a profound way, and this is clearly exemplified by your outstanding cover. As a high school coach, I am keenly aware of the many obstacles athletes face at every level of their careers, including the widespread availability of drugs. Bias symbolizes the spirit of athletic success while at the same time serving as a grim reminder of what success can bring.
I plan to frame and display your cover in the locker room to inspire our young athletes to greatness while reminding them that sports and drugs don't mix.
Though I agree it was a tragedy, I hardly agree with Larry Bird's assessment that it was the "crudest thing I've ever heard." A child who dies of leukemia or child abuse is the crudest thing I've ever heard. But when a 22-year-old college-educated man with the "world at his fingertips" dies of cardiorespiratory arrest brought on by the use of cocaine, I call that the most "foolish thing I've ever heard."
I hope the people who wanted their subscriptions canceled after your swimsuit issue caught the cover and story on Len Bias.
It no doubt will save and has saved many lives.
I have three sons between the ages of 18 and 28. I guess they would be extremely concerned if they saw your cover and read the five-page article on the Len Bias tragedy. The youth of America will get your message, loud and clear, and maybe that's why you chose him for your cover subject.
But here is a college senior, taking cocaine and canceling his dream. Is this tragedy really worth a cover and five full editorial pages? The World Cup. Major league baseball. Wimbledon. Golf. USFL vs. NFL. I know they're all covered well, but surely there must have been some more sports-worthy events that week. Why glorify the death of Len Bias? You did include it in FOR THE RECORD, which I feel would have been more than sufficient.
ROBERT BUECHNER JR.