Congratulations to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for having the good taste to choose Wayne Gretzky as 1982's Sportsman of the Year (Greatness Confirmed, Dec. 27-Jan. 3), and congratulations to Wayne Gretzky for earning this honor.
As my interest in hockey grows, sparked by exciting young players like Gretzky and aided by the football strike, which helped me to realize there are other sports worth watching at this time of year, I find it increasingly annoying that I must leaf through the back pages of the sports section of my newspaper to locate articles on hockey. It is a pleasure to find that SI and Gretzky have helped to bring hockey into the limelight.
RITA L. WILSON
Your selection of Wayne Gretzky as Sportsman of the Year once again illustrates SI's tremendous knowledge and understanding of the sports world. In my opinion, and I'm sure in the opinion of many others, there couldn't have been a better choice.
Bobby Hull summed it up best when he said of Gretzky, "You find yourself pulling for him, don't you?" Edmonton's road attendance figures would seem to bear Hull out. Gretzky's greatest fans aren't necessarily north of the border.
Shawnee Mission, Kans.
Well done! I congratulate E.M. Swift for illustrating that Wayne Gretzky is worthy of being considered the greatest hockey player ever and of being considered one of the greatest sportsmen ever. However, even though I'm a big hockey fan and I admire Gretzky, I think Jimmy Connors was overlooked. Connors had an incredible year, winning both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, and I doubt he'll have another like it. I think SI jumped the gun by naming Gretzky Sportsman of the Year in 1982. He still has many years of excellence to come, while Connors' time is now.
What's this? The greatest coach in the history of football retires and you put a hockey player on the cover. I walked all the way to my mailbox to get my SI. I just knew the cover would be a classic shot of the Bear standing under the goalpost. The person who chose the Gretzky cover should be slapped with a wet noodle. And Robin Yount should have been Sportsman of the Year.
Congratulations on John Underwood's fine article on Bear Bryant (After Many a Splendid Season, the Bear Hangs Up His Hat, Dec. 27-Jan. 3). Frank Deford's earlier story on Bryant ("I Do Love the Football," Nov. 23, 1981) pales in comparison.
As a former Alabama undergrad and graduate student (1972-78), I saw Bryant-coached teams win 10 or more games in six of my seven school years. Over that period Alabama won two national championships and finished in the Top 5 six times.
It never failed to cause chills to run up my spine when Bryant would pause before an applauding Alabama student section during his pregame stroll, doff his houndstooth-check hat and place it over his heart. He was, as Underwood said, a man who "cared deeply" about players, coaches and fans alike. Because he appreciated those around him, was the last to take any credit and was magnanimous in his gestures, he was easy to love.
LANKER'S LOOK AT '82
Congratulations to SI and photographer Brian Lanker on the wonderful portfolio entitled Pieces of '82 (Dec. 27-Jan. 3). As a sports photographer for Columbia University, I deeply appreciate Lanker's creative vision. The hands of Rickey Henderson, Sugar Ray Leonard's gaze, the illuminating smile of Magic Johnson—all are exciting and fun and portray the psychological as well as the physical gifts of these remarkable athletes.