Paul Zimmerman's article APB for QBs (Aug. 29) raised an issue that I, as a high school and middle school coach, have been concerned about for the last few years: the rise of one-sport athletes. Many of today's young athletes feel that to excel in a sport they must limit themselves to that sport. They are also expected to take part in preseason and postseason programs, which afford them very little time off for other sports.
As a wrestling coach, I have always stressed to my athletes that participation in other sports will not only teach them skills that will make them better wrestlers, but it will also give them a chance to get away from the intensity of wrestling. By the same token, I have tried to convince other athletes that wrestling will benefit them on the football field, the baseball diamond and the track. Along these lines, it was gratifying to read that Joe Theismann and Mike Hickey also stress the advantages of a multisport background.
Not another "Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?" story. SI has lamented the dearth of dominant pro basketball centers (The Vanishing Center, Feb. 22), and now you bemoan the lack of talent at quarterback. I'm tired of it. The games have changed, and with them, the people who play them.
What Zimmerman is really complaining about is that the quarterbacks nowadays are not larger-than-life heroes like Broadway Joe Namath. Who do we have to thank for that except all of you guys in the press boxes? The media made those earlier quarterbacks heroes by approaching them with a slack-jawed gee-golly-bob-howdy attitude, and it approaches today's heroes with a muckraking tell-me-about-the-steroids attitude.
If you want heroes, you'd better bring back the days when sportswriters were fans with typewriters, not journalists with muckrakes. Joe DiMaggio is gone. You helped run him off.
Belle Chasse, La.
In one of the picture captions accompanying your story you say, "Together, [Gary] Hogeboom and [Jack] Trudeau don't add up to the talent of the legendary [Johnny] Unitas." That reminds me of what rookie AFL quarterback Joe Namath said in 1965 when critics of the new league asked him, "How many quarterbacks do you have in the AFL who are as good as Unitas?" Namath's reply: "Same as in the NFL, none." Come on, Unitas is in a class of his own.
In his analysis of the dearth of talent at quarterback, Zimmerman missed one factor: If coaches and owners would quit trying to convert every black college quarterback into a receiver or a defensive back, the level of competence of all quarterbacks would be higher. I don't know how many Magic Johnsons of the gridiron we've missed because of ignorance or misapplied standards. Not too long ago talented black linebackers were also sidetracked into other positions, to the detriment of the game.
J. EVERETT PREWITT
In your special report on sports in China (Aug. 15), I especially enjoyed E.M. Swift's story Sleeker, Stronger and his description of the game of jian qiu, in which factory workers hit a shuttlecock over a net with their feet or head. I am an eighth-grader at Whitehouse ( Texas) Middle School, and I think it is about time somebody spoke up for exercise in schools. I get one class of gym at the end of the day. The principals in our school system think that if they let us run, we will get too rowdy. They say that we won't calm down and study again. But since we don't get to move, everybody is edgy and full of energy. Then the school officials wonder why they have discipline problems. So, thanks for your informative article. It proves that if we, like the Chinese workers, had time to release energy through physical activity during the school day, we could better concentrate on our work.
In his article on the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials (Back to the Future, Aug. 22), Craig Neff mentioned that only a few swimmers "dared to try" U.S. swimming's "secret weapon"—a suit made of a new fabric that slips through the water faster than any other. The truth is, only a few swimmers had an opportunity to try suits made of the fabric because the manufacturer, TYR Sport, had only a few prototypes available. I was one of those swimmers, and I liked the suit better than any other I have competed in. Dan Jorgensen wore it in both the prelims and finals of the 400-meter freestyle and qualified for the team. Bart Pippenger, who, in the end, didn't make the team, wore the suit in the prelims of the 200 and the 100 butterfly and swam his best times ever in both events.
Villa Park, Calif.