JOHN FRASER: THIS STRANGE FRATERNITY
I agree with SPORTS ILLUSTRATED that charges of corruption against a basketball official in ANY conference should be made public and investigated (Basketball: The Fix Again?, SI, March 4). Whether the charges which your magazine has made against John K. Fraser, Missouri Valley Conference basketball official, are valid is something for investigators to decide. The important thing, it seems to me, is that the charges have been made public.
But, I implore the editors to give some serious consideration to publicizing the fact that there are an overwhelming majority of us basketball officials who are honest.
I'm afraid...your fine article gave the "I-told-you-so" spectators what they think is a leg to stand on when they ridicule our judgment in some future games.
If you will, tell them how many thousands of us there are in this strange fraternity; tell them how we read and reread crazy rules which change almost as frequently as the seasons of the year; tell them how and why we hold regular meetings to discuss play situations and mechanics; tell them how many years good officials worked in YMCA and church leagues before they developed the know-how of position, judgment and courage to move up the ladder to high school and then college officiating; tell them that it is not a business with us, but a hobby; tell them, if you can, how it feels to have thousands of screaming partisans pinpointing their wrath at your striped shirt, with the official knowing full well that not one person in one hundred knows the mechanics, techniques, style or rules of the game of basketball; tell them about the investment in time and money we make to pursue our hobby (very few basketball officials can count on their fees for the major part of their livelihood); tell them about the tests we have to take to become legally qualified; tell them about the four miles we run during the course of every game....
Perhaps it would make our job a little easier, a little more fun, and a little more appreciated if many of your readers understood us. I hope that this week when I'm officiating at the State Finals in Lincoln, Nebraska that some irate spectator doesn't throw your article in my face! Think about it.
President Nebr.-Iowa Coaches & Officials Association
•The editors concur wholeheartedly with Mr. Berg's eloquent statements on the tireless, exacting and selfless work demanded and given by virtually every basketball official and also agree that in the case of John Fraser the important thing is that the charges have now been made public. See page 18 for further details.—ED.
JOHN FRASER: REVISION IN THE VALLEY
Here's hoping your fine article ends attempts at fixing basketball games in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Valley seems destined to revise their methods of selecting referees.
JOHN FRASER: TOOTS 'EM AS HE SEES 'EM
I am a charter subscriber and I respect the enterprise and photographic skill and writing talent of your men. But, like all of us in the trade, they need to go out and have a good bath once in a while.
The piece about Johnny Fraser is a case in point. I have seen him work many, many times and I'll take him in preference to any official you can name. He is alert, fast on the reflexes, honest and impartial.
Johnny worked high school games around here for years, still does. He is one of four or five of the 40 or 50 we see each season who is known as a "non-homer." In the Big Ten, in particular, that means a tremendous lot, because there is no league in the country where the home team gets more breaks. And that is not to say that the "homers" are crooks. They are just more easily swayed by the howling mob.
I'd say that if Fraser were booked into Oklahoma A&M, for instance, the odds on A&M against anybody ought to shift by at least 10 points. He is one of the very few who can stand up to that howling, crazy Cowpoke crowd and still toot 'em as he sees 'em.
JOHN FRASER: SAD COMMENTARY
You are to be commended for your blunt and forthright opening of what might be a real cesspool. Of course, the facts at this time are still rather vague. However, I feel that your article will do for basketball what previous articles on boxing filth did for boxing.... It is a pretty sad commentary on Missouri Valley Conference basketball when such a man as Fraser is a referee.
BERNARD S. GORFAINE
SPIKE WEBB: UNDUE ALARM
A statement of opinion attributed to Capt. T. S. King in the Spike Webb story (SI, Feb. 11 and 18) has had more to do with the demise of intercollegiate boxing than any single incident: "Boxing stands alone, in all recognized sports where the final objective is the incapacitating of an opponent. In other sports incapacity is a possibility, but it definitely is not the objective."
The ultimate aim and objective of boxing is the same as in any intercollegiate sport—to win! To say that the objective is to injure the other contestant must imply intent on the part of the individual participating. This casts a reflection on all coaches and participants in all contact sports where injuries occur.
The objectives of intercollegiate boxing are clearly stated in the preamble to the rules in the Official Intercollegiate Boxing Guide. Stated in part:
Boxing is a sport of skill participated in for the fun and satisfaction derived. There are many boys who have need of a direct method of dissipating their aggressions, and boxing provides that opportunity. Intercollegiate boxing as a sport has as its prime purpose the outscoring, out-thinking and out-maneuvering of the opponent through the medium of well placed blows or hits; to win on points, to decision an opponent because of superior technical skill, ring strategy and physical condition....
To verify my contention that the critics of boxing in education are biased and unduly alarmed, you are reminded that there is still a vigorous intramural boxing program at the Naval Academy.
CHALLENGE AND RESPONSE (CONT.)
Some weeks ago EVENTS & DISCOVERIES reported the unusual, to say the least, feat of Francis Wharton, who shot a buck, fashioned himself a set of false dentures from the animal's teeth and therewith ate the buck (SI, Jan. 28). I thought readers might be interested in a look at Francis Wharton and his buck teeth (see above).
Mr. Wharton for many years lived in the woods of British Columbia like an Indian, tanning his own hides, making his own clothes and living with the animals. He is an inventor and mechanical craftsman of great skill, which I think is shown not only by the homemade teeth but by the unusual hand gun Mr. Wharton machined for himself.
W. A. COWLEY