Congratulations on your article concerning the Goodwill Games. It was the most comprehensive and factually correct account of this competition we have read . . . save for your opinion expressed in the article that the games have exposed ill will in the U.S. sporting community.
Ill will? Where the matter was settled in just one vote? Nonsense! Let me tell you about ill will in the USA sports groups. Go back to any meeting between the NCAA, AAU, "independent sports," and U.S. Olympic Committee before the mid-1970s. There was ill will, turf fighting and retaliation. The real tragedy then was that those grand old sports bodies could only fight each other by disqualifying each other's athletes and refusing to sanction each other's events. There was no forum to settle an issue. The disputes lingered on, hostilities simmered, trust eroded, differences became personal, so nearly every issue became "them" vs. "us." Score was kept on the basis of who won rather than on what was really good for the U.S. Olympic movement.
While some may seek to see vestiges of those old days in the circumstances surrounding the Goodwill Games, nothing could be further from the truth. Pursuant to the procedures which Congress established in the Amateur Sports Act of 1978, the involvement with the Goodwill Games of the USOC and its constituent national governing bodies of the various sports was freely, fully and openly discussed within the American amateur sports family. As expected, there were numerous differing views on what was the best for each of those involved. But ultimately, in a democratic setting, after discussion, our members including the governing bodies, sitting as the USOC, determined our position on the games. The issues were settled, and we all are operating on that basis. For those with differing views there is, unlike times in the past, no retribution, and no lingering threat of retaliation. In that context we believe that all of us in amateur sport recognize and accept that for now the members of the USOC operate in concert, as the USOC, for the collective and individual good of the Olympic movement. Ill will? Not any longer.
The important difference between now and then is that no one has even hinted that an athlete should not go or stay home from the Ted Turner event except as the athlete desires. We have come a very long way. Thank goodness.
ROBERT H. HELMICK
Asst. to USOC President