The big question Americans are faced with is whether we should or should not participate in the Moscow Olympics. Unfortunately, everyone has made this an "either/or" proposition. I believe there is room for compromise which would show the Soviets we mean business and at the same time leave the door open in case they want to change their ways.

Why couldn't we tell the Russians that we intend to go into the Olympics on a piecemeal basis depending on how they behave in the next few months?

For starters, President Carter could inform the Kremlin that if Russia gets out of Afghanistan we will send our track and field team to Moscow. The Soviets are very big in track and field and are expecting to take all the gold medals in these events.

Then, if they get their surrogate army of Cubans out of Angola, we would agree to send over our wrestlers and weightlifers.

We would also advise them that if they promised not to round up their dissidents and railroad them out of town during the games, we would enter our swimming and water polo teams.

The president would agree to allow Americans to compete in the gymnastic events in exchange for a written document from the Soviets that they would not go into Yugoslavia. This means a lot to the Russians because we don't have anyone in this country who could take first place against one of their athletes on the parellel bars.

If they gave up their Backfire bomber we would throw in our archery, canoeing and field-hockey teams.

And if the Russians started living up to the Helsinki Accords, we would allow our athletes to compete in volleyball, rowing and yachting.

It seems to me that this compromise would show the Soviets that the United States will not permit politics to interfere with the games. At the same time it will let them know that we're not sending over our boys and girls en masse while they believe they can do anything they want to endanger world peace.

The ball will then be in the Soviet court. The countries behind the Iron Curtain will exert tremendous pressure on the Russians because each satellite nation has spent years developing athletes whose sole job in life is to beat the Americans where it hurts.

If we stay out of the Olympics altogether we could look like spoilsports.

But if we agree to join the games one event at a time, demanding reciprocity, no one can criticize us for ruining the games.

You may be asking what do we do about the basketbal event?

Quite simple. We don't field a basketball team until the Soviets move their navy out of the Indian Ocean.

Will they do it? I have a feeling they will. The Russians were defeated in basketball by the United States and Yugoslavia in 1976 and they'll do anything to beat the pants off us this year.