SI Vault
September 12, 1966
KING ARTHUR'S COURTSirs:As one who has followed tennis rather closely, I watched with interest the career of the first Negro to attain topflight ability, Althea Gibson, two-time winner at both Wimbledon and Forest Hills, and I cannot say which impressed me more, her brilliant game or her exemplary demeanor. And now I see those same qualities being displayed by Arthur Ashe, the first Negro to gain high ranking in the men's division. Frank Deford's article, Service, but First a Smile (Aug. 29), reinforces my favorable impression of Ashe. May his career carry forward.G.M.W. KOBB� New York City
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September 12, 1966

19th Hole: The Readers Take Over

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BEAR (cont.)
Congratulations to John Underwood and SI for the Bear Bryant series (Aug. 15, et seq.). I hope many young people will have an opportunity to read and profit from it.

In my opinion a coach like Bryant who can instill in a boy the desire to win a football game and have pride in himself, can also help him become a better man in the all important game of life. Not only has he molded winners on the field but many fine men in our society as well.

Football is more than a game of running, blocking and tackling. Discipline can be commanded but respect must be earned. Much depends on the understanding between player and coach, and it takes more than teaching amateur psychology to create what Bear Bryant has. He is truly a master of the art of getting 110% from his players and not killing that quality called desire. We need more men like him.
Dean of Men
Louisiana Polytechnic Institute
Ruston, La.

Give me the old-fashioned kind of honesty that made a man's word as good as his bond. This brand of honesty was discounted when Bryant stated that signing his name to a contract didn't mean a thing, except as a "protection" for the college president against alumni who "might not like it when the coach doesn't win the championship that first year." A contract is a man's word and it should mean everything. There are still many men around, and I do not exclude coaches or college presidents, who hold such words to be sacred.

Bryant further condones his action by implying that any man would break a contract in order to advance his career. Not true, Mr. Bear, not by a long shot.
Monroe, La.

Bear Bryant's homespun philosophy is sound, honest, realistic and uniquely successful. With more Bear Bryants teaching, not only on the gridiron but in classrooms and in today's homes, we should be able to distinguish a boy from a girl by the cut of the hair, and have fewer beatniks cluttering up the nation's college campuses. Congratulations on this great story of a great man in a time of great need for a realignment of values.
Cottondale, Ala.

In answer to Rudi Brutocao's letter (19TH HOLE, Aug. 29) concerning the lack of football in the first of the Bear Bryant articles, I suggest that Mr. Brutocao is either a non-athlete or Superman.

As an athlete, I am thankful that someone has finally revealed to the average fan that athletics goes much deeper than a set of muscles. Believe it or not, Mr. Brutocao, the Bear is telling you about football.
Waynesboro, Va.

Last December 20 you published a non-essay on sport by John Steinbeck (Then My Arm Glassed Up). In it, if you will recall, Steinbeck described two new sports of his own invention: the first was vine-racing ("Each contestant plants a seed beside a pole of specified height, and the first vine to reach the top wins"). The second and "even more sedate and healthful contest" was oak-tree racing, a competition that, "depending on the agreed finishing height...may go on for generations." Well, I was motivated by all this to take up oak-tree racing, and now I wish to report.

My opponent, a tall, muscular type who has proved to be a very challenging adversary, politely agreed to call it a completed contest when the first acorn develops into a tree 3 feet, 5.13 inches tall. We chose our ground, held our trowels in readiness and waited for the starting gun. Dirt flew. The crowd (three small boys and a stray cat) was on its feet, and what is proving to be an exhilarating contest was under way.

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