As an active luger, and president of a national luge club, I would like to thank William Oscar Johnson for detailing the current plight of U.S. lugers (A Run for the Money, March 5).
Most times, our biggest problem is not sliding our sleds but dealing with the anti-athlete administration that professes to run our sport.
The final insult came during the week following the world test race at Lake Placid, N.Y., when the two big winners, the East Germans and the Soviets, were allowed to train on the Olympic luge run, while only three U.S. lugers were able to stay on at their own expense and secure the necessary insurance to be able to train with them.
Our leaders? They had all gone home immediately after the race, wondering why we always do so poorly.
ROBERT M. HUGHES
American Rodelers Association
Pearl River, N.Y.
"Some Win and Some Luge," a phrase coined by SPORTS ILLUSTRATED before the 1976 Winter Olympics, once again applies. Our lugers continue to work hard, and thus have more expertise than before, but they are getting little or no assistance from U.S. sports officials or administrators. One could easily conclude that foreign nations must be running our efforts. We are giving away any chances we have for medals, not just for 1980 but for two or three Olympics to come.
KINSLEY F. NYCE
WILLIAM AND MARY'S PROBLEM
SI earns an A for its recognition of the controversy over major athletics vs. academics on the William and Mary campus (SCORECARD, March 5). Many of us in Williamsburg have been trying for some time to find the answer to the question: For whose benefit is college football being played? If most of the students and faculty and a large segment of the local community reject the idea of an enlarged football stadium, then who is the intended beneficiary of stadium expansion? The Board of Visitors of the college has made its decision to expand the stadium largely on projections of increased revenues and more attractive home games. I doubt that there are many successful businesses that base significant decisions on such limited, and potentially biased, input. (Incidentally, William and Mary's faculty are certainly concerned about their salaries; however, they are not naive enough to assume that the money for the stadium expansion would end up in their pockets if the plan were scrapped.)
Granted, academic excellence and successful athletic programs need not be mutually exclusive. However, once the commitment to big-time athletics is made, the pressure is on. For institutions the size of William and Mary (approximately 4,500 undergraduates), you cannot have it both ways. Sooner or later revisions in academic requirements or admissions standards will be proposed to protect the athletic commitment. Stanford and Michigan are excellent institutions, but hardly a fair comparison in this case.
LAWRENCE S. BECKHOUSE
Faculty Representative for Athletics
College of William and Mary
Let's see now. Three thousand of William and Mary's 4,500 students stood up for academics vs. athletics by boycotting a day's classes? Hmmm.
R. FREDERICK CHURCH
TAKE YOUR PICK
In SCORECARD (March 5), you said, "In Philip Roth's 1959 novel Goodbye, Columbus, Ron Patimkin splashed up to his sister Brenda in a swimming pool and said excitedly. The Yankees took two.' " As a fervent fan of the Boston Red Sox, let me assure you that Patimkin's comment was that the Red Sox had won both ends of a doubleheader, not the Yankees. Being a Boston fan and living in New York is difficult enough. Please don't add to last season's frustrations.
ALAN S. ROSEN
Woodmere, N. Y.
?Sorry, but in his book, Roth did have the Yankees winning the doubleheader, as SI reported. However, Roth did not write the screenplay for the movie Goodbye, Columbus, which was released a decade later and which reader Rosen may have seen. Arnold Schulman wrote it, and he had Patimkin exclaim that the Red Sox had won. The reason, says Schulman, is that at the time he was updating the story (1968) the Red Sox, with Carl Yastrzemski, seemed to be the team most comparable to the Joe DiMaggio-led Yankees of Roth's book.—ED.