VEEP'S VIEWS VIEWED
At the time Gerald Ford (In Defense of the Competitive Urge, July 8) became Vice-President I knew very little about him. I was convinced he was nothing but a political toy who was chosen for his lack of ability. In recent months Ford has proven himself to me and to millions of other Americans, and now that I have read his article, my respect for him has been elevated to the highest level. Ford is a scrapper who makes a lot of sense.
As many ballplayers are underrated, many politicians are underrated, Vice-President Ford being one of them.
ROBERT G. GUARINELLO
Seeing Vice-President Gerald Ford on your cover was bad enough, but reading his article was worse. He never gets beyond hokey old football stories and archaic philosophy.
The "competitive urge" is an old concept related to what 19th century historians referred to as the "frontier spirit." It can also be regarded simply as the survival of the fittest. Throughout America's history cutthroat competition has been religiously defended while the minorities, the poor and the weak have suffered. Now we are witnessing the deification of Vince Lombardi and his dogma that "winning is the only thing." The Soap Box Derby scandal is an example of the attitude of many Americans who rationalize their overzealousness on the basis of "everyone docs it." The competitive urge has also wrecked the free-enterprise system by encouraging large monopolies to "win" greater profits by crushing the opposition.
Let us realize that ruthlessness and immorality arc directly proportional to America's need to win. Competition in sport is one thing, making a fetish of it is another.
THOMAS E. HILTON
As I understand the Vice-President's message, I am handicapped mentally, morally and spiritually because I did not play football.
BRADLEY C. JUDKINS
As if this country didn't have enough trouble, you feature the Vice-President on your cover, thus putting the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED jinx on him! What are you trying to do?
BIG ON THE SMALLS
The issue of July 8 was one of the best ever. My hope is that it wasn't merely the annual token issue to small sports. How nice to see cycling covered in the lead article (An Ace Came out of the Pack).
New York City
Bravo! SI has covered one of the few true physical sports in this country. Bicycle racing is the most demanding American sport, although it gets little recognition. Cycling requires the tactics of chess, the stamina of marathon running, the daring of downhill skiing—and unequaled dedication.
Sister Bay, Wis.
As a member of that "generation of the '30s and World War II," I very much enjoyed Mark Kram's poignant article Ring of Bright Marbles (July 8). I am sure that members of every generation pause from time to time in this frantic race we all run to gaze back to a moment of their youth and reflect that theirs were the best of times. But Kram had to have been there with me and a lot of other "middle-aged" Americans who knew the pure joy of the long hot summer, the endless alleys and vacant lots, the sunrise-to-sunset games and imagination of youth. We were definitely loved, but loved in a way that allowed us to be just kids, not "the future of America in bold letters." Kram is so right. A kid left to his own devices does experience a beautiful aloneness.
RAY M. SMITH