STRIKING IT UP FOR THE BAND
Having been a member of the University of North Carolina Marching Tar Heels, I particularly appreciated Heinz Kluetmeier's photo essay on the Florida State Marching Chiefs (All Horns Up!!! Dec. 6). The band is an integral part of an athletic program, but its hard work too often goes unnoticed. Thank you for noticing!
ROBIN D. HUFFINES
Chapel Hill, N.C.
Obviously, you aren't aware of the reputation of The Pride of West Virginia, the West Virginia University Marching Band. If, as you claim, the Florida State band has never lost a halftime show, it's simply because it has never competed against the Mountaineers. West Virginia and Florida State will meet in the Gator Bowl on Dec. 30, and there will be more at stake than the results of the football game.
PAUL R. SOUTHERN
Charleston, W. Va.
The Florida State Marching Chiefs are a fine band, but I can't understand why you did an article on them instead of The Best Damn Band in the Land, the Ohio State marching band. I saw the two go head-to-head in Columbus in 1981, and if any members of your staff had been there, I'm sure you wouldn't have made the erroneous claim that the Florida State band has never lost a halftime show.
As a graduate of Stanford and a professor at Florida State, I have had the pleasure of seeing Florida State's completely disciplined Marching Chiefs and Stanford's totally irreverent marching band. Which troop is preferred? Let me withhold my choice until I see how the Marching Chiefs defend against a five-lateral game-ending kickoff return for the winning touchdown.
Two articles in your Dec. 6 issue, All Horns Up!!! and TV/RADIO, point up my biggest disappointment in TV coverage of college football. The way the games are shown, we might not even know that Florida State has a marching band if you hadn't reported it. Any pictures of bands in action these days seem to appear only by accident when the network is switching between the New York studio and the stadium.
The worst case was the Nov. 20 Ohio State-Michigan game when we had, arguably, the two best college bands performing and saw, as I recall, maybe 30 seconds of the pre-game and halftime shows. The announcers exacerbated the situation by telling us how much they enjoyed the pageantry. If it was so good, why didn't we get to see it?
HOWARD H. FROST
I was moved by the Elaine Zayak story (Flight of the Bumblebee, Dec. 6). Having observed Zayak's daring but graceful figure-skating maneuvers on TV over the years, I can fully appreciate Bob Ottum's profile of this high-spirited individual. To think that she performed so majestically in spite of the tragic foot injury she suffered at age 2½—incredible! Heinz Kluetmeier's multiexposure masterpiece dramatically shows Zayak's determination. Let's have a standing ovation for a courageous, impish young lady who had the fortitude to overcome extreme adversity.
JOHN W. ALLEN
It's unfortunate when a sportswriter feels that he must disparage a past champion in order to promote a new one. Bob Ottum has done Elaine Zayak a disservice by implying that Peggy Fleming wasn't a courageous and technically superb skater.
Let me remind Ottum that in her first international competition, the 1964 Olympics, Peggy, then a skinny 15-year-old, skated with the flu and a fever to finish a creditable sixth. As for her technical ability, let me quote Ottum in the March 13, 1967 issue of SI (Crystal and Steel on the Ice): "Technically, it was two double toe loops, double flip, double axel, some waltz jumps blended into a flying camel, with all that blended into a double Lutz. But never mind the technicalities. It was a dazzling picture of pink on ice and skating's most graceful show. Where the others had bounded to the attack, Peggy flowed into the jumps. It made all the difference."
This doesn't include mention of her signature spread eagle-double axel-spread eagle combination or a jump she often performed in exhibitions, a wonderful delayed single axel. I have seen only one other skater, Robin Cousins, a man, perform this jump well in my 25 years of observing the sport.