I find it quite ironic that the most militant Negroes have chosen athletics as their "field of agitation" (A Step to an Olympic Boycott, Dec. 4). In sports, and specifically in the Olympics, Negroes have found a place of equality, if not superiority. To boycott the Olympics would be foolhardy at best. Tommie Smith, Lee Evans and the others would be hurting themselves—far more than they could possibly help the civil rights cause. A boycott would serve only to stir up hatred toward the "unpatriotic" Negro athletes who refuse to represent the U.S.
Certainly any individual has every right to participate or not participate in events such as the Olympics as his conscience desires and his abilities dictate. However, it would seem that, as a group, these new militants are making statements designed to denigrate, rather than advance, their cause.
First, it is obvious that nonwhites have been an enormously important factor in the U.S. Olympic successes since the time of Jim Thorpe. But the argument that a lack of nonwhite participation in 1968 will stir white Americans to a feeling of further sympathy, understanding and cooperation is nonsense! I suspect the average American will feel a further sense of disenchantment with the Negro's disinterest in America—which has already been amply evidenced by the horrible riots of the past few summers.
Second, the policy statement of the boycotting group included points to the effect that "this country is not for us" and that the Negro athletes are "performing animals." The obvious reaction must be to say, "Swell. Sorry to see you leave your homeland, but go elsewhere." This harsh but understandable point of view from the white community does absolutely nothing to further the Negro's needs in the U.S.
I suggest that Negro objectives could be truly moved ahead if the Negro athletes adopted a "win everything in Mexico City" strategy and then widely broadcast these results as an example of the Negro's continuing contribution to his country.
JOHN T. THOMAS
If Sir Francis Chichester qualifies as a contender, then he must be your Sportsman of the Year. Sir Francis enthralled mankind with his endurance, strength, dedication and will to succeed in his lone, lonesome voyage around the world. He showed the world that there are still men who are ready to attempt and to achieve the impossible.
I would like to second the nomination by Donald Farrar (19TH HOLE, NOV. 20) of Carl Yastrzemski as Sportsman of the Year.
As an aspiring girls' track coach, I thoroughly enjoyed Bil Gilbert's article, Thank Heaven for.... (Nov. 27). It captured the spirit and interest in sports of elementary and junior high school girls, and it showed their determination to excel.
As a high school senior looking forward to a career in physical education, I salute Mr. Gilbert for his fine coaching ability and hope that someday I may be able to match his example.
SUSAN J. FARRELL
Thank heaven for stories like Thank Heaven for.... I was genuinely touched by Bil Gilbert's account of the adventures of the Belles of Fairfield. I read it twice. I'll read it again.
EDWARD J. BUTLER
New York City