Your articles on the Winter Olympics (Jan. 27) would be interesting were it not for the implication between the lines. We gather that Austria will dominate the Alpine events because her skiing is "highly-organized." West Germany and France will win the figure-skating events because a plane crash killed the real champs. Further, we gather that the U.S. will not win a gold medal in the luge events because there are no courses or more than two sleds in the U.S. And this is not all. We will fail to win at hockey because our altruistic ideals of amateurism won't allow us to field anything but the "fair" amateur.
In other words, were it not for several annoying little facts, the U.S. would win most of the gold medals going. Our athletes are generally admired by other nations for both ability and charm but, above all, they are now respected because of their new sense of sportsmanship. They are poorly honored by a press that explains their failures in terms of how we could have won "if only."
North Andover, Mass.
Congratulations on the fine article about Bill Reichart, captain of the Olympic hockey team (A Question of Honor, Jan. 27). Being from Rochester myself and an avid hockey fan, I have watched Bill play quite a bit during the regular season, and he gives the area fans some very fine hockey. My hat goes off to him and the rest of the Olympians who are representing the U.S. this year.
ROGER H. SMITH
In response to Mr. Peter A. Dornbrook's letter (19TH HOLE, Jan. 27) expressing his unhappiness over the Olympic Committee's new track-and-field selection system and my opinion concerning this situation (19TH HOLE, Jan. 6), I would like to make a few last comments.
First, as Mr. Dornbrook stated, the Olympic champions at Tokyo will be decided on the merit of their performance alone. Once our athletes arrive in Japan there will be no turning back. This is why it is absolutely imperative that we utilize every possible method to insure that only our finest and most qualified trackmen make that trip. The Olympic Games are far too important for us to use them as training grounds for giving some flash-in-the-pan neophyte experience.
Second, whether we like it or not, nationalism plays an integral and important part in the Olympic Games. We cannot afford to come out second best at Tokyo.
Finally, we live in the 20th century, not in ancient Greece. Our past reliance upon "the tradition of the ancient Greeks" and other similar archaic practices is one of the main reasons why our position as the world's top track-and-field power today is seriously threatened. It's about time we discontinued our strict adherence to the outdated and ineffective methods of yesterday and looked to the future instead of the past.
BY THE NUMBERS
Three cheers for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED! It's about time somebody recognized what a great basketball team Michigan has. John Underwood wrote an excellent article about the Wolverines, Down Bloody Nose Lane, Jan. 27. He told of their superb starting five, Cantrell, Russell, Buntin, Tregoning and Darden; and their great coach, Dave Strack. But, what he didn't mention, is something essential to a championship team: a strong bench. Versatile Cazzie Russell can play any position, and many of the "bench warmers" at Michigan would be starters at other schools in the country. Also, the Wolverines won't just be a "one-year" team. Four of the five starters and most of the benchmen are juniors and sophomores. With a team like that, how can Michigan do anything but win the Big Ten (and maybe the NCAA) championships for the next few years?
I enjoyed your fine article on Michigan's current team. I know they are rightfully proud of their current record of 15 wins and 1 loss. But at no time did Underwood mention the team that handed them their lone loss, the UCLA Bruins, Coach John Wood-en's "press" team, and the No. 1 team in the country.
E. W. PEASE
You have to admit that UCLA's Walt Hazzard and Gail Goodrich make up the best guard combination in college basketball, with Hazzard being one of the best all-round players you'll ever see.
Apple Valley, Calif.