Does Pete Rose view everything he does as a test of his manhood? His remarks concerning the Superstars competition (And a Little Child Shall Lead Them, March 11), particularly those aimed at denigrating the baseball hitting efforts of Stan Smith, are nothing more than sour grapes. Surely no one believes that the scoring standards devised by the promoters of Superstars are in any way meant to test proficiency in sport. They are merely means for the participants to gauge their performances against those of fellow competitors. Indeed, the competition is not a test of athletic prowess (whatever that is, if it can be measured), since swimming, which Bob Seagren declared to be the most demanding of sports, was not counted more heavily than, say, golf. Nor can the winner of the overall competition lay claim to the mythical, mystical title of World's Greatest Athlete, as I am sure Kyle Rote Jr. would not. Superstars demonstrated the warmth and humanity of men such as Reggie Jackson, Brian Oldfield and O.J. Simpson. While losers to Rote, they are all equally winners in a larger sense, true superstars.
Kyle Rote Jr. is the epitome of the American sports hero, the one who shuns the almighty buck and is willing to donate a chunk of his $50,000 purse to charity when his yearly salary is only $1,400.
Manhasset Hills, N.Y.
In Mark Mulvoy's article Superdad Skates Up a Storm, March 11, he says that Mark Howe is headed for the top rookie award, but I don't see why Gordie shouldn't be the Rookie of the Year; he is in his first WHA season, isn't he?
Ann Arbor, Mich.
Nice work if you can get it, and Gordie Howe definitely get it! Gordie has defied the laws of nature, pensions, etc., by joining the Houston Aeros and is now the bellwether of the club while at the same time providing a guiding and steadying influence upon the play of his two sons, Mark and Marty. Not everyone 45 or over can find a suitable position in his particular life's work or endeavor these days. It's rough and tough for an older person to maintain the pace of the daily grind or to face a challenge ideally suited to a younger individual. But Gordie Howe is a specialist in his field, which is hockey, and he is proving that fact undeniably. More power and more plays to Gordie.
WILLIAM F. O'BRIEN
AGONY AND ECSTASY
I would like to make a few comments on Jerry Kirshenbaum's article on swimming (The Agony and Drip-Dry Ecstasy, March 11). Rather than saying that the training for competitive swimming is more difficult than that for running, it should be noted that conditioning for either sport is difficult, and it would be unfair to say that athletes in one discipline put in more effort than those in the other.
As opposed to the author's view, I have some facts and theories gathered from many discussions I have had with swimmers when I was in college and further information I have picked up in graduate school: 1) For each step a runner takes, he is landing with full body weight; swimmers are supported by the water and have the use of both arms and legs. 2) I have been told that swimmers are in a position for "maximum cardiac return" (easier for blood to return to the heart). 3) Swimmers are in a medium (water) that cools the body efficiently; the temperatures of the exercising muscles in runners reach 40-43� C., which may have harmful effects on energy metabolism. Perhaps the author should equate the 100-meter swim with the 400-meter run or, better still, the 100-yard swim with the 440-yard run because the times are similar. It's much easier for a swimmer to swim 100 yards with maximum effort twice with 20 minutes rest than it is for a runner to make two 440-yard runs. The difference is not in conditioning.
Oak Ridge, Tenn.
An article lauding a team or individual in SI is like a kiss of death. A cover story: immediate catastrophe. As a devoted Wolfpack fan I must beg SI not to do any stories on the North Carolina State basketball team until the NCAA championships are over.
Coles Phinizy is to be commended for his perceptive essay on ex- Celtic Tom Sanders and his nascent coaching success at Harvard (Sanders of Harvard, March 4). Satch has instituted a novel approach for the Crimson—teamwork—on both ends of the court. His future coaching achievements will quite likely attract national attention in their own right.
Particularly welcome, though, is Phinizy's polemic against the deplorable shortage of athletic facilities for Harvard (and Radcliffe) students. His irreverence toward the utilitarian value of eight million books seems a bit hyperbolic; nevertheless, few of them would dispute the importance of a sound body as well as a sound mind. Hoop-happy Harvardians may take hope, however; Harvard President Derek Bok played (well, watched from the bench) varsity basketball while an undergraduate at Stanford.
HENRY B. FOX