MEN OF '61
Concerning your selection for Sportsman of the Year (Jan. 8), I agree that the great Roger Maris, the incomparable Paul Hornung and the matchless Warren Spahn are not worthy of the honor. But who is Jerry Lucas?
The worst choice possible.
How can SPORTS ILLUSTRATED pick a boy over the men? What's wrong with Big Bill Russell, the greatest basketball player in the world?
Whatever his faults of character, whatever his lack of tact and subtlety in speaking with writers and fans alike, Roger Maris is a man who carved a niche in history which neither you (by your neglect) nor anyone else can ever take away from him. Roger Maris, in 1961, made the biggest impact on the sports world with one of the greatest individual achievements in sports history. Roger Maris, in 1961, was the Sportsman of the Year.
Chapel Hill, N.C.
January 22, 1962
From a basketball enthusiast who three years ago (having never seen him play) was sure Lucas was vastly overrated, today come congratulations on your Sportsman of the Year award.
Your choice was the finest.
Although I have never seen the indispensable Jerry Lucas, Sportsman of the Year, in action, I gather he must be a truly remarkable athlete to deserve your award. The same holds true for the other sportsmen you mentioned.
Nevertheless, how can you possibly fail to give even some credit to Green Bay's terrific triple-threat halfback, Paul Hornung, who not only serves his team but his country as well. I have seen Hornung play, and he is at least worthy of a little acclaim. After all, he was voted the Most Valuable Male Athlete of the Year in several other polls. I realize that you cannot acknowledge everyone, but must you leave Paul Hornung out?
JAMES P. EWING JR.
Fernandina Beach, Fla.
•See same issue, pages 12-15—ED.
You reviewed the many feats in the sports world during the year 1961.1 think, however, you overlooked the fact that the record of 50 goals in a season, set by Maurice Richard of the Montreal Canadiens, was tied by the great right wing of the Montreal Canadiens, namely, Bernard (Boom Boom) Geoffrion.
I have a proposal regarding pro football that I believe has more merit than the controversial ' "slide-rule field goals" proposed by Chet Andrews (19TH HOLE, Dec. 11 et seq.). I feel that the dullest play in pro football—the point after touchdown—should cither be made more interesting or eliminated. The PAT in the NFL has become so automatic (well over 90% successful) that it seems to have lost its reason for existence. The situation in the AFL is not quite so bad because of the optional two-point try.
My proposal calls for retaining the kick in the PAT but making it not quite so automatic. First, I would move the ball back from the three-yard line to the 10- or 15-yard line for the one-point try in order to reduce the percentage of successful conversions. As alternatives there would be the option of trying for a two-point conversion from perhaps 25 or 30 yards out or a three-pointer from the 35- or 40-yard line. The appropriate distances for each of the three tries could be tentatively set on the basis of field-goal statistics and then adjusted if necessary after a season or two.
JOHN P. CAMPBELL
Newport News, Va.
Artist Tom Allen was right about El Tarpon Tropical on the Yucatan Peninsula (Gamefish in a Lazy Lagoon, Jan. 8). It is the best tarpon fishing water in North America. But he was conservative on his estimate about raising 20 per day.
Last July I fished for five days, jumped 119 tarpon and had over 300 strikes. A person has to see the place (and the tarpon) to believe it.
And, incidentally, Lorenzo the parrot knows some awful words in both Spanish and English.
HUGH L. BUCKINGHAM
In The Bizarre History of American Sport (Jan. 8) the words "fishing" and "fish" appeared only briefly and incidentally.
The National Survey of Fishing and Hunting reports that 25.3 million persons 12 years old and older were "substantial" participants.
The National Recreation Survey reports that 45 million persons fished in 1960, including "incidental" as well as substantial participants.
The third National Study of Sports Illustrated Subscriber Households (1960), analyzing ownership of sporting goods, reports that respondents owned more fishing rods and fishing reels than any other types of equipment listed.
Thus, it would seem that your own subscribers as well as others who make up one of the country's largest outdoor participant sports certainly deserve better than "bizarre" treatment.
JOHN G. ZERVAS
The major bowl games on New Year's Day are the climax of the collegiate football season for many fans. It seems a shame that SPORTS ILLUSTRATED could afford only one sentence each to the coverage of these games in the January 8 issue.
THOMAS E. BUTLER
What's the big idea of not saying anything about the Gotham Bowl? It was one of the best postseason games of the year.
I breathed a sigh of relief upon viewing your issue of January 8 and seeing that you tastefully devoted only six capsule summaries to the college bowl games and left it at that.
The Minnesota-UCLA so-called Rose Bowl contest was doubtless one of the most dismal exhibitions ever passed off on the public. The TV announcers deserve some sort of Academy Award for the enthusiasm they generated in their account. Considering the fact the Coast's third best team was representing the West in the grandfather of all bowls, I presume the fans could expect very little else.
RALPH E. GRIMES
I have decided the time is ripe for a new bowl game. I am outlining the details below in the hope of enlisting your aid as a co-sponsor.
This game will be called the Granny Bowl, and contestants will be selected from the grandmothers of all those college players who didn't make the pro draft lists. It could be run on an East-West basis, with the geographical division being the Maine-New Hampshire border. (Although this dividing line is somewhat unusual, it is not at all unfair; I have spent some time in Maine, and a lot of those old ladies up there are pretty tough.) The game would be held in Dubuque, because, according to those in the advertising game, there are a lot of little old ladies there and I know they would give us a fine turnout.
We would guarantee each member of the winning team $30 or a new hearing aid (their choice), and each member of the losing team would get a new shawl or free medical aid for six weeks.
The coaches will be selected from all the pro coaches who have held their jobs for more than two years. This list will be small enough to be really selective.
JAMES W. DAVIS