The first two paragraphs of Dan Jenkins' article on Warren McVea and other Negro backs (You've Got to Have Some "O," Oct. 16) suggest to me that some colleges might operate under the policy that the only good Negro student is an exceptionally athletic Negro student. Like the people in Texas, I enjoy and am proud of the achievements of Warren McVea on the football field, yet I wonder if the University of Houston would have accepted his application if he had been only a straight-A student throughout high school. Would SMU have enrolled Jerry Levias if he had been only a national-award-winning science student? How many colleges in America, anywhere in America, would give scholarships to Negroes with excellent scholastic records but with little or no athletic abilities?
This, I believe, illustrates the problem of Negro acceptance in America. Negroes are put into that special group of people who have to prove themselves not just satisfactorily, but spectacularly, in some field of endeavor like sports, entertainment or the arts so as to be the equals of us untalented whites with belly flab and high school diplomas. A Negro cannot be average. He may have a hilarious sense of humor, tremendous generosity, a kind heart, a friendly smile and likeable manner—in fact, the best personality in the world—but if he can't run like Bob Hayes or sail down the field like Gale Sayers or hit homers like Willie Mays, he doesn't stand a chance of being accepted by many white people.
Of course, we should recognize, as magazines like SI do, the great athletic prowess many Negroes have. But we should also recognize the other qualities that make them men and women—human beings—worthy of respect and friendship.
In one paragraph you scold the people who think Warren McVea is getting more than the normal football scholarship at Houston, and in another paragraph you elaborate on the gold tailor-made suits and slacks he wears. How many "affluent" citizens can afford separate tailors for suits and slacks? Of course, the average reader does not know McVea's financial status. Maybe his family is very well off and sees to it that he lives comfortably. The average scholarship athlete in most colleges gets only enough to cover the necessities. Since Houston is on a three-year probation for recruiting violations, one has to wonder if all is strictly above board.
As for southern schools recruiting Negro athletes, I think that your article is not up to date. There are quite a few Negro athletes in southern colleges now. Even Mississippi has one.
At any rate, I do not believe that Warren McVea would have finished his freshman year at any other college with the attitude that he has, putting himself above the team, practicing and playing only when he feels like it. I think that this article really showed McVea in a very poor light. Or is that his true character?
After reading your story about Warren McVea, I have lost a lot of respect for a player I had thought to be great. Any player who will not carry out his assignment on a play, no matter what the score, deserves to be disciplined, possibly kicked off the team. McVea seems to have Houston and Coach Yeoman under his control. Joe Don Looney was important to his Oklahoma team, too, but Bud Wilkinson kept control and disciplined Looney when he needed to.
Furthermore, I do not consider watching a team like Georgia Tech to be like watching "a clumsy baton twirler." In Lenny Snow, they have a very exciting runner who gets his yardage without a lot of daylight. I might also add that Lenny goes into the game and carries out all his assignments when told to do so.
The article by Dan Jenkins on Warren McVea was sickening. This is nothing but racial bias in reverse. Let's not have any more such articles in your fine magazine. Let the civil rights crusade be carried on by others than your feature writers. I want to read about sports in SI—black or white—but sports only, not social lectures or Negro-supremacy balderdash!
WALTER E. BACK
El Dorado Hills, Calif.
I am a North Carolina State alumnus, and as soon as I received the October 16 issue I hurriedly turned to the college-football section. After all, my team, a 27-point underdog, had beaten Houston—and some Texans had been betting the Wolfpack would not even show up for the game!