BORG'S SWAN SONG
Curry Kirkpatrick took some cheap shots at Southern towns—"tanktowns"—in his story on Bjorn Borg's farewell exhibition tour (A Marriage Made in Glitzville, Feb. 14). It's really sad that a reporter could write a piece like that. Come on! Was it that bad—limos running red lights, an old lady climbing into Borg's limo and calling him "Bjorn boy"? And what's wrong with giving someone the key to a city? Low blow.
Curry Kirkpatrick was most kind in his description of the events surrounding Bjorn Borg's farewell tour. I was one of the unfortunate people who had to sit through promoter Bill Stamps's sideshow in Chattanooga. I was embarrassed as a Chattanoogan, as a tennis player and as a human being. Stamps succeeded in making a circus out of a dignified sport. I hope that Borg doesn't feel that was representative of all of Chattanooga—it's really a fairly nice place to live.
Signal Mountain, Tenn.
In the article on fitness (Hold On There America, Feb. 7), you mentioned a ludicrous situation at Proviso East High School in May-wood, Ill., where students could earn physical education credits by playing pinochle.
This is ironic because in 1942, soon after the U.S. had entered World War II, Proviso gained national recognition for its innovative program of promoting vigorous physical education. The late Les Remley, then athletic director, reorganized the physical education curriculum and installed, in the basement of the spacious field house, the same type of obstacle course used by the training camps of the armed forces. We Proviso students then spent long hours scrambling over hurdles, climbing ropes and trudging long miles around the oval cinder track.
Remley believed—and preached—that all students should be graduated from high school not only with the training and education to hold a job, but also with the physical capacity to comfortably meet the demands of adult life. His staff included, among others, Wrestling Coach Lou Slimmer, who had been the state's leading physical fitness exponent long before World War II; Andy Puplis, former quarterback at Notre Dame; and Chuck Kassel, who had played end on the Red Grange teams at Illinois.
I left Proviso in 1943 and did not return until 1968 when, while taking part in my 25th class reunion, my wife and I watched Proviso's football team play neighboring Waukegan. As we looked around us at that game, we quickly realized that the vigorous Proviso of the early '40s was gone. Student spectators in the stands ignored the cheerleaders and the action on the field. Instead they sat and gossiped, played cards, drank booze and listened to music from transistor radios.
Proviso's decline should not tarnish the luster of the fine coaches and teachers of its earlier years. They invested their lives in nourishing us in body, heart and mind.
By the way, Proviso alumni include astronaut Gene Cernan, actress Carol Lawrence, talk-show host Mike Douglas, Green Bay Linebacker Ray Nitschke, White Sox Pitcher Orval Grove and me, a claims examiner.
Congratulations for possessing the courage and journalistic integrity to take a close look at the so-called fitness boom and to discover that it is largely illusory. We Americans have much work to do to improve our diets, our life-styles and our exercise patterns.
As the sports editor of a small-town newspaper, I was interested in Jerry Kirshenbaum's and Robert Sullivan's remarks about the disparity between competitive athletics and phys ed programs in the schools. They are on target in saying, "Administrators, parents and the local press are often more interested in what happens in the gym on Friday nights than during school hours."