TIMID AND TERRIFIED
William Johnson's article (The Timid Generation. March 11) certainly speaks to the college generation of today. Externally we are timid and reserved. Yet underneath this facade we are thinking, examining and questioning—not just quietly assimilating.
Congratulations for printing an article that combines both brawn and brains—the combination demanded more and more at the collegiate sports level.
William Johnson seemed on the brink of discovering—but didn't quite make it—that a huge majority of American college students are keeping their cool despite the world's woes.
President Knight is doubtless right that Duke students abhor violence, as do all civilized people, but there are those who might wish that Mike Lewis and his muscular basketball mates would get the word. They come down on you hard.
V. F. LYON
The Timid Generation is indeed more typical of American youth than the New Left. The fact is that the American pursuit of worldly success has encroached more and more upon the school years. The rat race now begins in first grade, and it certainly dominates the ''golden college years."
The pressure probably is worst in schools like Duke, those just below the Ivy pinnacle. The Ivy students have at least made it, in some sense, but the second echelon knows no rest and must, with less ability, strive to meet the rising expectations of college administrators who are themselves scrambling after the Ivys.
You are to be commended for putting sport in a social perspective. Its decline as a matter of serious concern on campus is one barometer of the excessive demands being placed on a growing proportion of American students in other regards.
LAWRENCE M. MEAD III
Frankly, I find it not in the realm of a sport magazine to comment on the comparative social, academic and creative merits of any university. Author Johnson has presented to your readers an outsider's view of the situation that only can be experienced from the inside.
In my opinion, SI has taken advantage of its prestige in the journalism field. In presuming to judge Duke's relation to the atmosphere of college campuses from Berkeley to Cambridge, you are as out of line as an educational journal would be in selecting the best rookies of 1968.
Hopefully, in June 1970, I will receive a degree from Duke as my father did 30 years ago. I am sure, however, that Duke University will continue to have, as it has since then, a student body whose degree of "detachment" is such that the university will grow in both achievement and acclaim, "self-conscious beauty" and "rush-order origins" notwithstanding. And Mr. Bubas and the basketball team will continue to be impressive, whether your magazine chooses to publicize it or not.