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January 14, 1963
HEADLONG HERITAGE Sirs:Thank you for a wonderful Christmas present—Catherine Drinker Bowen's Our Heritage of Boldness (Dec. 24). I wish every child in America could read it. It has the surge and vitality of America. And it also has the wonderful old-fashioned patriotism. Most magazine articles criticize and belittle. We need more of such shining faith in our creed and our destiny. Even the prevalentcynics must applaud Mrs. Bowen, for she does not gloss over our mistakes—just puts them in perspective without apology.HELEN CHURCHWARD Seal Beach, Calif.
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January 14, 1963

19th Hole: The Readers Take Over

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The Southern Conference's Virginia Poly-technical Institute deserves some recognition. VPI beat Kentucky in its opening game for the first time in 30-odd years. At the time Kentucky was ranked third in the country. Then they went on to beat Mississippi State, ranked No. 4. Yet in your coverage of the South, East, West, etc., VPI has hardly been mentioned.

The spirit of competitive life forms at least part of what is loosely and collectively termed "the spirit of America," and Mrs. Don Van Rossen in her letter (Why Not Blame the Parents? Dec. 17) defines and defends this spirit so well.

As a junior in high school, I am resigned to the fact that by virtue of not having participated to an appreciable degree in sports as a boy, I am and probably shall be shut out of varsity athletics in high school.

Having worked out and practiced three summers in succession in hopes of playing freshman, sophomore and junior basketball and freshman and sophomore football and having either ended up as a third-or fourth-string reserve or simply having been cut, I am discouraged; but not to the point of crying sour grapes or criticizing the athletic system.

My competitive and athletic spirit has not been dampened; on the contrary, it has been quickened, and I merely vent those energies through such activities as church-league basketball, intramural school programs, pickup football and basketball games and tennis. I enjoy my phys ed class much more than I did previously, and I ride my bike practically every place I go.

Friends still come up to me and ask me, "Didn't you go out for basketball?" to which I answer, "Yes, but I was cut." Invariably I get a pseudosympathetic "That's too bad," or "You got gypped." The truth is, it isn't too bad, and I did not get gypped; I was simply found to be athletically inferior to other boys, due to any number of reasons, primarily inexperience. This judgment was passed by just and trained persons. What can I do about it? I can call up eight or 10 friends, get hold of a gym or outside court and play a good pickup game of basketball just for the fun of it.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

I am sick and tired of constantly reading articles on children and athletics and constantly hearing this equal-opportunity-to-play bit. The average or below-average player will never measure up to the good one no matter how much he plays or how hard he tries, so you must spend the time developing the skills of the player that is gifted. Yet year after year the parents' cry is the same: "Let them all play." Don't they realize that there are playgrounds and school gym classes where they can all play?
Florence, N.J.

As one of those parents who applauded Mrs. Ross's highly articulate plea for less competitive athletic programs in the schools (Open Letter to Bud Wilkinson , Nov. 12), I cannot sit back in the "smug satisfaction" suggested by Mrs. Van Rossen and let her reply to Mrs. Ross go unanswered.

In attempting to equate mediocrity in the arts and sciences and in scholastic endeavor with athletic mediocrity, Mrs. Van Rossen fails to realize what should be most obvious: the difference in treatment and attitude on the part of both classmates and teachers toward these mediocre performers.

The child who fails to be chosen for glee club, orchestra or the class play, the child who isn't a gifted artist or has no keen scientific bent is not made to feel less worthy as an individual. But all too often, if his performance in the gym or on the athletic field is only average or below, he is treated with something near contempt by his physical education instructor. Not surprisingly, in the lower grades this attitude is often contagious at the student level

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