After reading Dan Jenkins' fine article on international sports and where we stand in them (Stop the World, the U.S. Is On, May 2), curiosity prompted me to run a little test between the U.S. and the Soviet Union on their dominance in sports on an international competition level. Using your chart, I devised a system awarding 5 points for a first-place ranking, 4 points for second, 3 for third, 2 for fourth and 1 for fifth. The U.S. total came to 53 points, which included seven first-place rankings and two seconds. And, in line with my expectations, the Russian total came to 60, with only four No. 1 rankings but nine seconds. A conclusion can be drawn from this experiment that the U.S. isn't as dominant in international sports as a lot of people think.
Your ranking of the U.S.S.R. fifth in international tennis is ridiculous. In the past two years the Soviets have not won a round in the European zone of the Davis Cup. They lost to Italy by a decisive 4-1 margin this year.
The furthest a Soviet has advanced in one of the big four tennis tournaments was Tomas Lejus' quarter-final effort at the 1965 French Championships. The only outstanding achievements by U.S.S.R. players were V. Korotkov's and C. Morozova's junior titles in the 1965 Wimbledon Championships.
Countries such as Italy, France, Mexico, India and Czechoslovakia should all be rated ahead of the U.S.S.R.
FRANK M. MANSBACH
Please explain how you manage to rank the speed skating as you do. How can you rank Sweden, North Korea(!) and the U.S. before Norway? Norway, The Netherlands and the U.S.S.R. form the three contenders for the first place.
The only sports I noticed appearing in the article were ones we excel in and will probably continue to excel in during the coming years. No mention was made of how we might establish ourselves in the seven sports we rank poorly in or the three sports in which we do not rank at all! As an example, one of the sports your magazine listed our country unranked in, namely, soccer, is played by 95% of all countries in the world. Why aren't we developing our youth who don't swim or play football or basketball to lead us to recognition in this sport? This same holds for many other sports that we lag in.
It seems to me that our country should have a National Sports Federation that could not only unite the feuding NCAA and AAU but also aid in the development of the sports we rank poorly in as well as the ones we rank highly in so that in the future our athletic youth could lead us to world domination in every sport.
KENNETH R. HAMANN
Jenkins renewed my feeling of pride in this great country.
HITS AND ERRORS
Your baseball issue was really great. Gary Sprinkle, my best friend, and I are both Oriole fans. We are sure you are correct in predicting them first. As soon as the Indians trip over their shoestrings and fall into third or fourth place, the Orioles will take first by such a margin that you would have to take an airplane to get from first to second.
I wonder how many of SI's baseball fans have sworn off air travel after reading what Bobby Bragan had to say about Ken Sylvestri's off-season job at the control tower in O'Hare Field. The big yuk in the story was that Ken purportedly instructed two airliners to head for the same runway at the same time. Some fun!