Bil Gilbert's article contained more than I care to know about otters.
Any discussion of the running scene in Gainesville, Fla. (FOOTLOOSE, Dec. 13) is incomplete without reference to John L. Parker Jr. Not only was Parker a member, with Jack Bacheler and Frank Shorter, of the terrific Florida Track Club teams of the early '70s, but he also wrote about those days. His novel, Once a Runner (Cedarwinds, $2.95 in paper), is a warm, humorous account of the athletic, social and political adventures of a collegiate miler as he trains for the Olympics. Despite Parker's disclaimer of any similarities between his fictional Kernsville and Gainesville, a reader familiar with Gainesville and the University of Florida cannot suppress a smile of intimate conspiracy. Readers of all ages have enjoyed my well-worn copy, even if they have never run or been to "Hogtown."
MICHAEL P. DONOVAN
JUNIOR TENNIS LESSONS (CONT.)
I believe commendations are due those readers (19TH HOLE, NOV. 22 et seq.) who've written in response to Barry McDermott's article The Glitter Has Cone (Nov. 8), verifying from their own experiences that the idea of winning as adults see it isn't always best for children. Unrealistic parental expectations can turn normally constructive doses of athletic challenge into destructive doses of pressure. Those parents who refuse to acknowledge this fact are usually the ones who most need to understand it. Young, aspiring athletes should learn that what's important is doing one's best. Before they undertake thousands of dollars' worth of tennis or other lessons, kids first need the freedom to be kids.
I appreciate SI's publication of divergent opinions, some of which have helped me develop an appreciation for sports I had seen little or no value in. Only through honest examination of others' views have I been able to come to a more mature perspective. As for reader Ike McKelvain's comment (Nov. 29) that his child hadn't read the McDermott article because "it could affect...his mind," I wonder how the child came to the conclusion that the effect would be bad.
PUNISHING THE RULE BREAKERS
I've been a fan of your magazine and admired your editorial objectivity for many years. College athletics also remain a favorite of mine. With those two thoughts in mind, it's incredible that discussions of NCAA rules enforcement continue with no one—not even you—within my memory pointing a finger at one of the guilty parties.
Schools go on probation and guilt-free individuals are punished, while the head coaches, the ones who should be ultimately responsible for the actions of those under their supervision, go on to other, often better, positions. If these coaches, who benefit from the talents of every athlete on their teams, were held accountable for the actions of their supporting staff, cheating would soon greatly diminish. By accountable I mean subject to removal from coaching at any NCAA institution. A captain is responsible for every one of his crew—and he's supposed to go down with his ship, too.
The item entitled "Winning and Cheating" (SCORECARD, Nov. 22) was so one-sided and negative I have to respond. Sure, there are damning abuses in college athletics that usually lead to NCAA probation. But there also are shining examples of major colleges committed to excellence in academics as well as in athletics.
On Nov. 13 Penn State and Notre Dame played as the two major independents fighting for the national championship. Penn State may well be the best college team in the country and may wind up as the national champion. There probably was no greater assemblage of brains and brawn on the field anywhere this season than there was that weekend in South Bend. And when's the last time either Penn State or Notre Dame was on NCAA probation? Ever?
Come on. SI, balance your articles. Otherwise you'll add fuel to the media fires that allege that everybody involved with college athletics is a crook.