George was in professional football 26 years. He has watched thousands of players come and go. He knows the "nature of the beast." Good luck, George, but don't bite the hand that fed you.
Kenny Moore's article on Dr. Ernst Jokl and world records (Projecting from Mozart, Sept. 13) was a hybrid of science and philosophy and contained the pitfalls and revelations common to both. Allow me a few reservations.
Jesse Owens' long-jump record of 26'8�" stood for 25 years. Should Beamon's record last that long (1993), I think it still unfair to label Owens' "chicken feed." Owens won four gold medals in track and field in the 1936 Olympics and that feat has not been equaled by any male athlete in 40 years.
Utilizing the standard deviation from the mean as a method of comparing the long jump with the 200-and 400-meter races ignores the rate at which the dash times have improved in 40 years (from 20.6 to 19.8 in the case of the 200). If this method had been employed in 1936, then, according to my figures, a prediction of 20.1 would have held for 1976. Does this make the current 19.8 a "mutation performance"?
The concept that Bob Beamon's 29'2�" long jump was the "first and only 'mutation performance' " is an interesting one. As it is used, however, the term seems only a superlative. Statistically, I think it would be more accurate to describe the current records in the women's 800 and the men's 1,500 as mutation performances.
Any superior performance is a product of (among other variables) the state of the record up to that point. Comparisons could become spurious: Would Lasse Viren have lapped Paavo Nurmi at 5,000 meters? Would John Walker have beaten Roger Bannister by 60 meters at a mile? Would Jesse Owens have been eliminated from a present-day 200-meter field? I think not. I suggest that there were mutation performances before Beamon's and they made others possible. Incidentally, I thoroughly enjoyed the article.
New York City
Allow me to take issue with Dr. Jokl's doubts about an eight-foot high jump. There are any number of high jumpers in the world who can jump more than a foot over their own height—even a 14-year-old (FACES IN THE CROWD, Sept. 13). There are also any number of excellent, agile athletes who have high-jump physiques (slender) and are seven feet tall. Put these two factors together and the chance for an eight-foot high jump becomes obvious. What could Kareem Abdul-Jabbar do after a year or so of coaching and training in this event?
If we don't get an eight-foot high jump, it will be because the athletes with the capability are after multimillion-dollar NBA contracts instead of Olympic medals.
DAVID S. ROBINSON
I was amazed at the courage of the men who ski the Flying Kilometer (No Sound, No Vision, No Vibration, Aug. 30). Trying to figure out Tom Simons and his group is the same as trying to figure out Evel Knievel. They're either extraordinarily brave or crazy as loons. Either way, they are remarkable people.
Now that the new ski record of 120.59 mph on the Flying Kilometer has been reported, I wish to lay claim to the slowest time ever by skiers 50 years of age and older.