I just finished William Leggett's excellent article on the baseball war in New York (Trouble Sprouts for the Yankees, March 2), and I can't agree more. The brand of fan known as the Met fanatic is a peculiar breed. I was in the Polo Grounds last summer and saw the darlings beaten by the big, bad Giants by a ridiculous score, but in the last of the ninth, with the Mets behind something like 17-4 and two out, Ron Hunt walked. Immediately the rhythmic applause began and shouts of "Here we go!" and "Let's go Mets!" rattled the rafters.
However, the ancient and venerable Polo Grounds supplied the psychological lift that made New Yorkers clasp the Mets to their hearts. New York loves a winner, but it loves a loser, too, provided that the loser is a real loser. The Mets qualify. But I won't trudge out to Queens to see them. In the Polo Grounds you had a good time and drank beer in the bleachers and took off your shirt and got to the game three hours early to find someone to argue with. It was a large Ebbets Field (R.I.P.). Now it will be Touristville, and after the influx of visitors who mistake it "for a GM exhibit," the Yankees will again draw close to 2 million and the Mets will hire Emmett Kelly.
MICHAEL JAY KALTER
Iowa City, Iowa
Let's consider the possibilities of subsidizing our Olympic teams. In our country, money should be no problem. There are foundations like the Ford or Wheaties foundations that could subsidize our teams, along with the public contributions.
There might be some questions as to whether we wish to make our players professional like those of Russia and many other countries. But in hockey the Russians seem to be more amateur than we are. Their players are being subsidized for taking their time to train and play in the Olympics, while we send athletes that are, in fact, pros, but since they are not being paid by our government to play, they are not considered as pros.
Subsidies would give our teams more time to work together. We've got good players. Now let them get organized. Let's keep thinking about our future.
The recent poor showing of our Winter Olympic team should again cause great concern among all of the citizens of the U.S. Our own Olympic Committee and the U.S. Government should realize that the day of pure amateur sports and Olympic Games for the sake of sportsmanship alone is well passed. It has been painfully obvious to those of us who are interested in sports and who have listened to many speakers of worldwide reputation that the Olympics and all world contests are being used as a tremendous and very successful propaganda machine by our Communist neighbors. They are using the results to try to impress other nations with their athletic prowess and their physical health, with the implication that this makes them a much better country and a much better type of government.
It is also quite obvious that our present competitive sports program in colleges and universities cannot be construed as strictly amateur. I think that it is time that we got rid of the decadent attitude of the present Olympic Committee and that the U.S. Government took a more active interest in helping to support a program for training and developing our athletes.
THERON L. HOPPLE, M.D.
Thank you for a fine, entertaining article on the poetic wilderness of the Columbia River (The Columbia: A Gem of a River, Feb. 24). It is a territory of vast beauty and emotion. It is, indeed, a living thing.
There is, however, a tragic aspect to the exposure of undiscovered territory of natural beauty to a public of millions. The tragedy lies in the exposing. Perhaps it is because of my selfishness that I feel this way. But I someday want to experience this country as Author Robert Cantwell has. I do not want to see it through the frame of an automobile window. I do not want to explore it with the help of directions etched on wooden road signs that indicate the number of miles to the nearest comfort station. I would like very much to roam through the smell of cedar, to catch a glimpse of a fleeing deer or even a bear loping out of a stream but not taking handouts from the tourists while Dad is busily snapping pictures from the back seat of the station wagon.
Once the public—and he can be a dirty animal with his paper containers and crush-proof cigarette boxes—gets wind of this place, I fear the Columbia watershed will suffer and die an unnatural death.