I have just finished reading the article concerning the situation at the U. of Wyoming (No Defeats, Loads of Trouble, Nov. 3). Speaking from my experience as a former collegiate football player and a present high school coach, I feel anyone connected with athletics should realize the importance and significance of the absolute discipline needed to insure team unity and success. Your article points out that the players who were dismissed from the squad were completely aware of the provisions under which they agreed to play for Coach Eaton. "We knew about the rule against protest...but we just wanted to talk to him." You then quote Williams as saying that the group of 14 just wanted to see if they could wear armbands. However, earlier in the article you quote Eaton as saying that they had appeared before him already wearing armbands. Hence, they openly and willfully disobeyed the rule and, in effect, decided to chance the consequences.
As I see it, this is not a matter of religion, race or civil rights, but simply one of insubordination. Coach Eaton had no choice but to handle it as he did.
Fort Thomas, Ky.
With all the legitimate protests the blacks have had over the years, it is strange they should pick Brigham Young University and the Mormon Church. The policies of this church are nobody's business but those within the church, unless they affect those outside it, which no one has shown they have. The Mormon Church is not a Woolworth's or a Greyhound bus or even a Lester Maddox-owned restaurant. It is a private religion catering to what its members believe are ancient beliefs, and it forces those beliefs only upon those who choose to accept them.
Salt Lake City
Eaton denied those men the right of petition and thus he opened up a much larger bucket of worms, by comparison, than any other act re athletes that I know of. He showed plain ignorance in saying it was stupid for them to be protesting against a faith and a religion that none of them knew about. It has been my experience that the fact that the Mormons refuse to ordain a Negro is perhaps the best known single fact, among Negroes, of any element of discrimination. And they knew it long before any college rumpuses started.
FRED R. LANCASTER
The trouble at Wyoming brings to mind your recent series on the problems of coaches (The Desperate Coach, Aug. 25 et seq.). As with that series I find it difficult to shed crocodile tears for Coach Eaton. I am rather sick of athletes being treated like cattle. It is blatantly obvious to anyone not antiblack that Eaton has violated the players' human rights. Even if one accepts Eaton's version, it comes out as zero tolerance of his players as human beings.
All the garbage about how grateful they should be for their free college education does not change a basic fact: football uniforms do not make men cattle.
Although I am one of Lew Alcindor's biggest fans, I feel compelled to defend Los Angeles and UCLA against the attacks he leveled against them in the second part of the article on his life (My Story, Oct. 21 et seq.). His main complaint about UCLA seemed to be against the people living in the dorms. Most dormies are not from L.A. It is usually their first time living away from home. Lew's freshman year wasn't his first experience away from home, so consequently he did not do the silly things the others did, for most likely he had already done them at a younger age.
I think he confused awe with racism on the campus and in the community. Like most students at UCLA I come from a white middle-class suburb. (There was only one black at my high school.) Most of us never knew, let alone were friends with, a black. Although I hate to admit it, during my first year at UCLA ( Lew's second) I was probably somewhat prejudiced. Consequently I avoided contact with blacks, not from hate, but from lack of knowledge.
Add to this the fact that Lew was more than 7 feet tall and likely the most recognizable athlete in the world. That first year, whenever I saw him, I avoided him, not because he was a black man, but out of shyness because he was a celebrity. Had I run into Sandy Koufax I would likely have done the same thing, and I am certainly not prejudiced against him.
After that first year, whenever I did see Lew, I would say hello and he would always say, "Hi," and ask how I was, even though he didn't know me. I'm sorry that I (and most others) never continued the conversation past "Hi," for if we had I am sure Lew would have a different opinion.