THE SYDNEY MAREE STORY
Over the years SI's voice has developed into a force for social justice. You've taken courageous stands, which often prompt letters beginning "Cancel my subscription...." For me, part of the reason I await the arrival of each issue is the quality of your writing coupled with this commonsense social awareness. That combination is epitomized in your July 18 issue in an extremely powerful piece of writing by Gary Smith about Sydney Maree and South Africa (He Ran, but Knew Not Why). The article is a home run, a knockout, a no-hitter, a touchdown—a pure 10 from start to finish.
Thank you for an insightful and sensitive story on Sydney Maree. We who have always known liberty and privilege often do not fully understand our great fortune, let alone appreciate it. I am proud to welcome a man of Maree's character as a fellow American.
Apple Valley, Minn.
I am a voracious reader of literature and have often had feelings awakened by the words I have read. But the story on Sydney Maree by Gary Smith stirred a unique feeling, one not often aroused these days, namely, an awareness that America is still a ray of hope for many people around the world. May we never forget our importance to the lives and dreams of so many suppressed human beings—not blacks, whites, yellows or reds, but just plain human beings all over the world.
MICHAEL W. DUSWALT
As I was reading Gary Smith's story, I felt I could share the anger that pushed Maree to show he was as good as the next person, if not better. Prejudice is a damaging trait in the human race and I am happy to see Maree succeed in spite of it. He has shown great determination and courage.
Your feature on Sydney Maree is an excellent rebuttal to those who argue, hypocritically, that you shouldn't mix sports with politics. The blatant attempt by the South African government to put a humane face on an unspeakably evil system by exploiting a young Maree clearly points this out. South African officials are so blind they cannot see that their efforts at "openness" in sport instead reveal to the world the true barbarity of apartheid. They also fail to comprehend that their duplicitous approach affronts, rather than attracts, moral human beings.
State College, Pa.
The Sydney Maree story attests to the courage and dignity of a young man struggling against one of mankind's greatest evils: racial oppression. I applaud Gary Smith's frankness and directness in reporting. Implicit in the latter half of the story, however, is a serious misconception. From the fact that Maree can buy cars and stereos in America, one may conclude that his problems with racial prejudice are over. To be sure, things are better here than they are in South Africa, or than they were in this country 20 years ago, but because Maree or any other talented black athlete can buy a car and a stereo and can live well does not mean that America has proved itself to be the land of opportunity for all blacks and other minority peoples. America has a long way to go before it fulfills its creed, before it realizes the dream shared by great Americans like Martin Luther King and the Founding Fathers.
It's ironic that in the front (SCORECARD) of your July 18 issue you talk of the long struggle to regain Jim Thorpe's Olympic medals, which were withheld because he received pay for playing baseball, while in the back is a story about a new American Olympic hopeful, Sydney Maree. We are told that his fellow trackmen don't understand why Maree demands to be paid so much to compete, that he has made enough to have a split-level home, two BMWs, expensive electronic gadgets, etc. There is nary a suggestion that all this might, or even should, compromise his amateur status in the coming Olympics. Burn on, Olympic flame! The U.S.S.R. subsidizes its athletes, and we buy ours on the foreign market. What a farce.
I was disgusted and revolted by the graphic article you did on Sydney Maree. What little joy we obtain from sports competition is surely not enhanced by a picture of some grinning men slicing up some terrified, innocent animal. Shame on you.
San Marcos, Calif.
I applaud Steve Rogers' gutsy [and, now, successful] effort to raise the racial consciousness of the Atlantic Coast Conference (SCORECARD, July 4 and 25). I observed a similar situation in 1971 while I was a visiting professor at North Carolina A&T State University. At a professional conference I mentioned to a representative of South Carolina State that there was an article in the morning paper about a golf tournament that included ACC teams at a country club in his hometown of Orangeburg, S.C. I knew he was a golfer so I inquired about the course. He replied that he couldn't tell me much because, as a black, he was not welcome to play there. I noted that there was another story in the same sports section about the accomplishments of a black basketball player at an ACC university, and we wondered how long it would take ACC, and other, schools to see the inconsistency of relying on black players in some sports and playing at segregated facilities in other sports. In the case of the ACC, apparently it has taken more than a decade.
Your readers may be interested to know that Rogers was a fine offensive tackle at Williams College for four years on some very good Division III football teams. I'm gratified that a former Williams athlete was the one who called for an end to the practice of official athletic complicity with racial injustice.
ROBERT R. PECK