SI Vault
November 14, 1966
PASSING MARKSSirs:I felt that Tex Maule's article on the Western Conference of the NFL (Heated Pursuit of the Packers, Oct. 31) was fine, but he overlooked something in comparing Johnny Unitas and Bart Starr. Tex cites the fact that Starr's percentage of completions is slightly higher and that his percentage of interceptions is slightly lower than Unitas', and that these are both important statistics which give evidence of Starr's superiority. But statistics are often misleading. The Colts' ground game has never been as strong as the Packers", and Unitas, of necessity, must go to the air more often. Thus he is deprived of the element of surprise that Starr takes advantage of. When the going gets tough for the Colts, the burden falls on the arm of Unitas. When it gets tough for the Packers, it falls on the legs of Hornung and Taylor. So come on, Tex. Unitas hasn't fooled an entire nation for 10 years. If he has, he should get the movie contracts that Drysdale and Koufax aren't using.PAUL BELZLutherville-Timonium, Md.
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November 14, 1966

19th Hole: The Readers Take Over

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Wonderful, wonderful is all this native North Dakotan can say about Tom Brody's fine coverage of the annual UND-NDSU clash—even if the game did take a wrong turn in the final seconds for this UND alum.

How could Brody say that the University of Minnesota used to consider North Dakota a sort of private game reserve for players and then quote North Dakota's Dr. George W. Starcher as saying, "Darned if I know how we get enough boys for two good teams"? All it takes to figure that out is a little perusal of those Bison and Sioux varsity rosters. They reveal the names of 44 Minnesotans.
Brainerd, Minn.

?For another Brody look at Dakota football., see page 75.—ED.

As SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has pointed out in the article Way Up High and Out of Breath (Oct. 31), the effects of Mexico City's 7,500-foot altitude on the participating athletes' endurance will be a major factor in deciding the winners of the 1968 Olympic Games. According to the results of this year's Little Olympics in Mexico City, the best men at sea level were far from being the best at altitude, unless great runners like Jim Grelle and George Young are slipping. It must have been disheartening for them to be beaten by "relative unknowns," but did either of these fine athletes have the necessary preparation to do otherwise?

Numerous symposia, many on an international level, have been held to give scientists an opportunity to share ideas on the effects of altitude on athletic performance. We have invited foreigners here and have sent our best men abroad. The net result: most foreign countries are listening to the scientists' recommendations and are already trying them out on their athletes. In many instances, U.S. findings are being put to use in other countries as they prepare to shame us in middle-distance running.

Recently the International Olympic Committee passed a rule forbidding more than four weeks' training at altitude during the last three months prior to the Mexico Olympics, unless a competitor already lives at an "equivalent" altitude (SCORECARD, June 27). The loopholes are obvious, but how much do our athletes know about the alternatives available? Just suppose there is an accumulative effect to acclimatization, so that a few weeks this year and a few more next will help performances in Mexico City. Then suppose it turns out that a period of some weeks at sea level following an altitude acclimatization period doesn't cause loss of acclimatization. What if it even helps? Where does that leave the four-weeks-in-three-months people? And where does it leave the athletes who wait until 1968 to start acclimatizing? I only hope we haven't already fallen too far behind.

Let me also assure you that many of these unknowns are not so incapable. I spent two weeks with Alvaro Mejia of Colombia at the Bolivarian Games in South America last year. He was interested mainly in how Americans train and how we get such great middle-distance runners. Regardless of the fact that Mejia lives at an altitude over 8,000 feet, he is an exceptionally gifted athlete. He was extremely fast at 5,000, 10,000 and 1,500 meters in the Bolivarian Games in Quito, Ecuador (altitude near 10,000 feet), and he has moved into a threatening position for 1968 with his performance in this year's Little Olympics.

It would seem wise to choose the U.S. Olympic coaches now, to let them take advantage of collected scientific data and to participate in any future altitude studies, so they can see firsthand the reactions of our athletes at various stages of altitude acclimatization and be able to analyze the situation better.

Scientific researchers in the U.S. are offering an opportunity to find the answers to altitude training questions through technology. Let's hope that a win in the 1968 Olympics will mean that one athlete is better than another, not just that the loser was kept away from the facts too long.
Madison, Wis.

?Former Olympic Pentathlete Daniels has participated in several altitude studies.—ED.

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