FOR SPORT'S SAKE
Hallelujah! There is a light in the forest! Until now I was afraid I was the only person who still enjoyed sports for the fun of competition. Your SCORECARD item, "Win, Win, Win" (March 6), has restored my faith that I am not alone.
From the Pee Wee programs all the way to the professional, it seems that this true meaning of sport and competition is being lost. The Pee Wees cannot have fun when they have their hollering parents interfering, and the professionals cannot enjoy competition for its own sake because of the almighty dollar.
New Rochelle, N.Y.
You did it! You actually said, "Competition...is the lifeblood of sport, not victory alone." Congratulations! This little vignette on the win-at-all-costs philosophy as it is applied to sports is the best brief statement on the matter I have seen. The statement, "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing," is as great a hoax perpetrated upon our nation as the statement, "Don't trust anyone over 30." You have put this statement on winning in its proper perspective, differentiating between professional and amateur sport.
I will clip that SCORECARD item, frame it and make several copies to send back to your other editors when they fall into the very same win-win-win rut you have now so convincingly deplored.
You ask: "...is the failure to win really such a terrible disgrace?" I ask you: If the failure to win is not a disgrace of sorts, why compete or even keep score?
Winning is the essence of sport, and if it is not a disgrace to lose, then it is at least a terrible shock to learn someone else is better than you are.
JOHN W. SCHWARM
STAN AND BO
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you for the articles on Stan Smith (This Smith, a Mighty Man Is He, Feb. 28) and Bo Belinsky (Once He Was an Angel, March 6). I believe these two articles paint a good picture of what life is like at the top in sport and what it is like after you have fallen from those heights.
What is more interesting, though, is the similarity in attitude toward sport of these diverse personalities. Both seem to believe sport should be played for sport's sake. Whether it be Stan's "living for Christ" philosophy or Bo's unwillingness to "stash baseball," the attitude is still one of keeping sport a game, no matter how their reasons differ. These men have the right perspective. After all, it really is only a game.
I was very pleased to see the article about Stan Smith. I am glad there are still people in athletics who are men enough to play fairly without all of the unnecessary childlike displays of emotion and physical brutality.
After reading week after week about people who will resort to any means to win, in business, sport or elsewhere, it is refreshing to read about someone who lives for Jesus Christ and is willing to stand up for what he believes. We talk of people for our children to idolize, yet we seem to take for granted men of Mr. Smith's character.
PAUL O. DILLON