ON WITH THE GAME!
Tex Maule misses the point (The Ball Game That Never Was, Nov. 16). It is not who would win the NFL-AFL playoff game, it's the fact that the National League club owners have deprived millions of this great spectacular on the flimsy excuse that the American Football League is not in the same class. Who cares? Let's have the playoff in the true American tradition—and see how they play the game.
I'll pick Buffalo. Any takers?
THOMAS W. RICHEY
Maybe the Bills would lose to the Colts, as has every NFL team so far this year, but Maule's article is unconvincing for the following reasons:
1) Minnesota, a team one year younger than the AFL, beat Baltimore their first time out, and nearly repeated.
2) Los Angeles is tied for second place in the NFL Western Division, although 13 rookies fill its roster.
The Vikings and Rams are, at best, comparable to the Bills in pro experience and yet are making their presence felt in the NFL. So would the Bills.
PAUL C. WEAVER
I have been a devoted fan of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED since 1959, and never in that length of time have I read an article as well written as Bob Ottum's The Panic Is On Again (Nov. 9). I live near the Boston area and go to the Celtic games every chance I get. Every word of Ottum's is true: when a member of another team goes to take a shot he looks twice to see if Russell is there. Most of the time he is, and the shot is blocked. It really is Russellphobia.
EDWARD M. FERRY JR.
Boston's Red Auerbach should light victory cigars for a long time to come. Russell-phobia and Celticphobia may demoralize opponents, as you say, but a thorough case of benchitis is what kills them. After all, what other NBA team can sport a second five the likes of Naulls, Counts, Siegfried, Bonham and Havlicek as well as consistently put six men in double figures every game?
HOME OF THE BRAVES
Bravo for your Bravura Battle of the Braves (Nov. 2). If the Braves' owners can't operate in a good baseball town, obviously they should sell to local people who want to keep the franchise here. Few teams have been loved by their fans as are the Milwaukee Braves. If ever a team belonged anywhere the Braves belong in Milwaukee.
How can baseball afford this kind of public relations? A ludicrous legal maneuver to forestall another whimsical shifting of franchise. A move, not for the soundness and wisdom of it, but rather to pad the pockets of a few adventurers, while millions of the faithful lose their team and millions of new fans adjust their sucker labels.
This court activity might be heralding endless legal scenes with the very life of baseball at stake, and all because of the haphazard and permissive control that has existed in the past two decades of the sport. The game needs stern, autonomous officialdom, entirely objective, utterly independent of ownership, conscious of practicality and institutional goodwill. Something must be done, some firm stance must be taken before the courts board up the portals of our stadiums.
JOHN N. HEIL
Your statement that Warren McVea is the first Negro to receive a football scholarship to a major Texas college is in error (Warren McVea Went Thataway, Nov. 9). Negroes have, for several years, been actively recruited by North Texas State, Texas Western and West Texas State, all of which compete in major-college circles in football and other sports. I might also mention that most of the state's so-called small colleges (including a majority of junior colleges) have integrated their athletic programs. Now. it is virtually a truism that integration in the South has proceeded much more smoothly in the urban areas than in the little backwater towns, where public sentiment often gets out of hand. However, for some perverse reason which I do not pretend to understand, in the field of sports (in Texas, at least) this rule of thumb has been turned completely around. For example, East Texas State, situated in a small town in the middle of the state's most rabid segregation belt, has Negroes playing on its football team this year, while the University of Texas, a "community of scholars" of some 25,000 located in what I consider to be the Southwest's most sophisticated city, does not. Similarly, Texarkana Junior College, only a few miles from the borders of Arkansas and Louisiana, has integrated its athletic teams, while those of Texas Tech, which is in west Texas, where there are few Negroes and where integration of the public schools has long since been effected (in many cases, even before the 1954 Supreme Court decision), remain lily-white. Well, I don't know how to explain this, nor what it proves—except that it emphasizes the unpredictable and rather baffling nature of Texas character and institutions.
Now that the Olympics are over and nominations are "open" for 1964 Sportsman of the Year, I would like to suggest that, while the athlete of the year is Peter Snell, the sportsman must be Mike Larrabee. His overcoming the handicaps of supposed old age and a very real injury; his accomplishments (a tie for the 400-meter world record, a gold medal and that winning relay leg); and his spirit of winning for fun—all combine to proclaim Mike's excellence, in every sense of the word.
I wish to second Richard Haverland's nomination of Bill Bradley as Sportsman of the Year (19TH HOLE, NOV. 9). I once had the opportunity to meet Bill and, though he must encounter thousands of admirers like myself, he was just as interested in what I had to say as I was in meeting him.
In his marvelously inclusive indictment of the Army Engineers and the other Wrecklamation Experts (America down the Drain, Nov. 16), Mr. Robert Boyle forgot to subpoena us yachtsmen for testimony. Yet there is not a one of us who has not at one time or another found his course blocked by a bridge built too low, too immobile, too thoughtlessly and too pointlessly in the name of progress. And, as if it were not bad enough that the bridges are there in the first place, the automobile clubs in seaboard state after state are now busy lobbying to make sure that, if the bridges are drawbridges (by some oversight), the draws stay closed. Mr. Boyle, put that patch on your eye, seize that cutlass between your teeth, hoist the Jolly Roger and stand ready to board. We're behind you, every man jack of us.
New York City
It has long been my contention that expensive fishways and fish-passage facilities for anadromous species around hydroelectric power dams on any river are a waste of funds: a sop to the public, so that dam builders can point to extravagant contraptions with pious mien and pretend that it isn't their fault that the river is barren. The Columbia, once the greatest of all chinook rivers, is the classic example. There the stupid, uncooperative fish just don't appreciate the $500 million the dam builders spent altering their river so that it cannot maintain them anymore even if ways should be found to transport them safely around high dams on the upriver spawning run and on the downriver migration to the sea. A dammed river is only a series of stagnant, warm layered half lakes—not cold, clean, rushing waters that the fish must have to thrive. Overheated by Hanford's wastes (from coolers for the Atomic Energy Commission plant), impounded by power and irrigation dams in bewildering numbers throughout its entire course, sluggish and lifeless, the Columbia—except at its extreme headwaters across the Canadian line—is no longer a fisheries river, just a source of power.
What really gets me is the pretense that the river can be both. This is utterly dishonest—a lie to the people—in light of all the facts now known about the needs of salmon.
As I sat there reading Barbara La Fontaine's article about the Golden Door (Girl Behind a Golden Door, Nov. 2), I couldn't help thinking a bit ironically about what "delicious" torment many of our less privileged women would willingly submit ourselves to if we could afford it. Here we are in a wealthy land, rich enough to be a lumpy 20 pounds overweight but not rich enough to be indulged at the likes of the Golden Door. Common sense tells me I could clear my skin by washing it oftener and remembering to use even the few creams I have every night, and I could do deep knee bends to pick up my 2-year-old's toys and lose a few inches. And I could lift my knees a little higher when I chase him into the house for his nap, and I could wear a sweat suit sweeping and dusting and mopping, though I doubt if I could find a pink one. But somehow it wouldn't be the same.
MRS. JOAN C. DALBEY