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19TH HOLE: THE READERS TAKE OVER
Edited by Gay Flood
March 09, 1981
AMERICAN RENEWAL Sir: The Feb. 23 issue of SI struck me as an especially important one. Henry Grunwald's essay, American Renewal, and John Underwood's brilliant admonition and declaration of hope, A Game Plan for America, are reflections of enlightened sports journalism at its best. They will be required reading for all of my students preparing to coach and teach. But the audience should be larger still. Sports fans, television executives, school officials and the greater army of parents and youngsters all should memorize Underwood's sports lesson: "Competition can't serve a society if it's antisocial. Winning at any cost and true sportsmanship are incompatible." They are shibboleths, to be sure, but we all have come perilously close to forgetting them. JOHN LUCAS Professor of Physical Education and Sports Historian The Pennsylvania State University State College, Pa.
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March 09, 1981

19th Hole: The Readers Take Over

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AMERICAN RENEWAL
Sir:
The Feb. 23 issue of SI struck me as an especially important one. Henry Grunwald's essay, American Renewal, and John Underwood's brilliant admonition and declaration of hope, A Game Plan for America, are reflections of enlightened sports journalism at its best. They will be required reading for all of my students preparing to coach and teach. But the audience should be larger still. Sports fans, television executives, school officials and the greater army of parents and youngsters all should memorize Underwood's sports lesson: "Competition can't serve a society if it's antisocial. Winning at any cost and true sportsmanship are incompatible." They are shibboleths, to be sure, but we all have come perilously close to forgetting them.
JOHN LUCAS
Professor of Physical Education and Sports Historian
The Pennsylvania State University
State College, Pa.

Sir:
I have long thought that losing can be as powerful a teaching tool as winning can. As John Underwood indicates, winning has become all-important in our society. I believe that this emphasis is misplaced. Rather, it is in the acceptance of a loss and in the lessons to be learned from losing that character building often occurs. Life deals us many cruel and seemingly unfair blows. Facing up to—and overcoming—losses on the athletic field may not totally prepare us for life's hardships, but they often instill in us important qualities such as humility and integrity. These lofty values provide us with the ability to pick ourselves up after we have been knocked down. They also help us to build a positive self-image, gain self-confidence and, consequently, contribute to society.

By instructing today's young athletes in how to lose properly, as well as in how to win graciously, our nation's coaches will accomplish their greatest task: the formation of mature, responsible individuals able to function together in this world.
MICHAEL STIEVATER
East Lansing, Mich.

Sir:
Whether we like it or not there can be only a few champions, but as long as we hold true to the ideals put forth by John Underwood there need not be any real losers.
LORIN M. BURTE
Chicago

Sir:
Thanks to John Underwood for telling it like it is. It was the frustration of trying to persuade others of the virtues of this type of philosophy that recently made me resign my position as director of recreation and parks in Del Norte County, Calif. My conviction that there are values to be derived from sports was implanted by coaches who cared and who gave their time to all who were interested. I believe that I am the product of my athletic experiences, and I am thankful that, though I was never a star, I was included in my school sports programs. I recently reviewed my yearbooks from Oakland Technical High and came across pictures of such outstanding athletes as John Brodie, Curtis Rood, Proverb Jacobs, Pervis Atkins and Ronald Dellums, now a U.S. Congressman. I offer my thanks to those special coaches who developed these well-known people and still had time for me.

The ball is in the court of today's coaches of young athletes. What are they going to do with it?
PAUL TAYLOR
Klamath, Calif.

Sir:
Congratulations to John Underwood and SI for presenting a lucid and intelligent "game plan." A responsible approach to sports that stresses participation, fair play and an athlete's commitment to his best effort is not a call for mediocrity. Excellence will always shine through, and we will still be treated to unbelievable and thrilling performances by those few athletes who have the skill, coaching and determination to test the bounds of their abilities.
NICHOLAS LEFFERTS
Westport, Conn.

Sir:
As a father of three sons who participate in sports, as a fledgling manager of a boys' baseball team and coach of a youth football team, and as vice-president of a construction company, I have found in John Underwood's article lessons to be learned for each of these endeavors.
JOHN C. MASCARO
Vice-President
Mellon-Stuart Company
Pittsburgh

Sir:
It strikes me as odd that in the same issue in which you spoke of the need to discourage young athletes from having unrealistic dreams of making it to the pros and also of the dangers for youngsters of specialization in sports you would feature on the cover a 17-year-old hockey phenomenon who began his relentless push for glory when he was eight. It seems to me you are feeding the fires of short-term pleasure and long-term pain. If you are serious about American Renewal, I suggest an editorial policy review.
JEFF MUNROE
Ann Arbor, Mich.

Sir:
I find it sickeningly arrogant that you publish a fine article like A Game Plan for America and then proceed to print in FACES IN THE CROWD the exploits of a young soccer player who scored 12 goals in a 20-1 "victory." It's little things like this that perpetuate the attitudes you ask us to reconsider. In the future, please use your forum to bring us truly valuable lessons in good sportsmanship and competition.
TITO FUENTES
Soccer Coach
Boulder, Colo.

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