Did Amy Acuff go over the top with her calendar of nude female track and field athletes [Randy Harvey's column, June 27]? Absolutely. As a female high school track athlete myself, I find it very discouraging that women are using sex appeal instead of athletic ability to promote themselves. In the struggle for equality between male and female athletes, this is just another step in the wrong direction.
Acuff's argument that the calendar "should represent empowerment to women athletes because it shows that we can be glamorous and still perform at a high level" is weak, at best. Why do female athletes have to be glamorous in order to succeed in athletics? Marion Jones, Mia Hamm and Jackie Joyner-Kersee have done a great job of promoting just the opposite, and are true role models for young, female athletes.
The bottom line in track and field is that unless your name is Maurice Greene, Marion Jones, Michael Johnson, or you happen to be one of the other more recognizable world-class sprinters, you're not going to get a lot of notoriety, calendar or no calendar.
TRACY BLOOM, Santa Monica
Dating to the ancient Olympics and up to present times, men have actively resisted women's participation in sports. One of the critiques men have employed, which also dates to ancient times and continues today, is that women who participate in sports are ugly and/or masculinized.
Women's sports organizations have responded to this critique by trying to emphasize the femininity of their athletes. For example, several years ago the LPGA hired fashion consultants to "soften" the image of pro women golfers.
Women athletes, such as Acuff and Katarina Witt, have internalized the critiques by wishing to portray themselves nude as sexual objects for the male gaze. It's sad and disheartening that even strong and skilled female athletes can't escape the "women as sex object" mentality that pervades our society. We've still got a long way to go.
KATHRYN TARBELL, Fountain Valley
Randy Harvey's obvious bias sandbagged his token effort at objectivity in his Acuff column. He suggests that by posing nude, Acuff and her colleagues are "giving the wrong message to young girls." What, then, is the right message? That women should be ashamed of their bodies?
He next quotes Jackie Joyner-Kersee out of context to suggest her disapproval of the calendar, conveniently neglecting to mention the beautiful nude photographs of Ms. Joyner-Kersee in the July 1996 issue of Life.
So what is your point, Mr. Harvey, particularly in your closing sentence? That those who don't share certain outmoded concepts of morality aren't worthy of your respect? You might want to reconsider.
ROY KING, Corona
As an avid track and field buff, and as an avid admirer of feminine beauty, I nevertheless believe Amy Acuff is definitely on the wrong track.
Sure, it gets attention. Sure, it must be OK because Mom helps sell the calendar and the money goes to a good cause. What twaddle!
One would think Acuff got her education at UCLA. Wait, she did.
ROY ROUDINE, Los Alamitos
I don't go to church, but I felt like I had after I read Brother Harvey's column on women athletes disrobing to get their faces "out there." Amen, and pass the calendar.
TERRY BRANNON, Los Angeles