?Boyhood officially became childhood last fall to accommodate coeds.—ED.
WORDS TO THE WISE
In a world that abounds with rash generalizations, must you allow yet another? I'm referring to the highly prejudiced article on the language of professional athletes by Frank Deford (BOOKTALK, March 8). I agree there are some athletes who do not do justice to the English tongue. However, is this not the case in any profession? I'm confident that many sportswriters, without the aid of proofreaders and editors, would appear to have the intelligence of first-grade grammar school students.
Actually, Frank Deford is fighting a losing battle, per se, in his campaign against "you know." At this point in time his arguments are not really viable, really.
Jocks aren't the only offenders. The Watergate hearings contributed a number of offensive phrases, and one of the most admired committee members perpetuated "I feel like" instead of the grammatical "I feel that."
WILLIAM J. DEMPSEY
In like manner, of course, sports announcers such as Frank Giford and Howard Cosell talk, of course, very classy—at least, of course, on the air. Of course.
MALCOLM D. CLARKE
South Harpswell, Maine
You know, Frank, you're 100% right. But as long as people are allowed to get away with that kind of, you know, stuff, why should they change? That would involve, you know, thinking. I call this affliction Poverty of Thought.
MARY L. LINK
Sincerest thanks for Martha Smilgis' article on Peter Westbrook (Quick Thrust to the Fore, March 8), one of America's finest and most talented saber hopes for this summer's Olympics in Montreal.
I can't help but think, however, that the real focus of the article should have been on Westbrook's coach, Csaba Elthes. West-brook's feeling that he was initially "intimidated" by Maestro Elthes is shared by many. My first lesson with him was far from enjoyable, and this upset me because I love the sport. Amid taunts, red-faced screams and innumerable slashes at my legs (all off target), Maestro Elthes had me realizing in no time that if I did not fence correctly, with great concentration and with no mistakes, well, I would meet Errol Flynn on that great fencing strip in the sky.
Say what you will, B. F. Skinner, on the merits of positive reinforcement. Maestro Elthes' dosage of negative reinforcement will have a student either fencing superbly or hobbling home in the same frame of mind as the 76ers' Billy Cunningham in your article on pain in the same issue.
NEIL H. GRAY
New York City
Thank you for your fine article on Peter Westbrook. You mentioned two other Essex ( N.J.) Catholic High School alumni, Marty Liquori and Mark Murro, both track and field stars. It would have been more appropriate to cite Bruce Soriano, who was the NCAA saber champion for three straight years (1970-72) while fencing for NYU's archrival, Columbia. Bruce opted for medical school over the Olympics.