THE BIG EYE
It seems to me that the "insidious kind of salesmanship" against which ABC's Roone Arledge is preaching (It's Sport, It's Money, It's TV, April 25) has crept into his own article. When he says "it's obvious that NBC has to create an illusion of parity with the NFL" and states that "the NFL has twice as high a rating as the AFL," he creates a prejudice against the lower-rated AFL, which makes me wonder if TV is capable of resolving the "basic ethical conflict" of which he writes. The fact that CBS has paid $28.2 million for the NFL games, owns the Yankees and is now forcing the AFL to "be faced with an almost total blanket by the NFL" does not seem to bother his sensitive TV conscience one whit.
To me, a viewer, it is quite significant that one league—through TV—is trying to eradicate the other. It is also clear that the NFL, if successful, will be able to dictate the tastes of U.S. TV sports fans.
Boca Raton, Fla.
Roone Arledge tries to put over the idea that television is not running sport, but he seems to contradict himself when he says that hockey would be a better television sport if it were played with one less man on each team. This gives me the impression that TV would drastically alter a sport if it could in order to create more excitement for its audience.
Many sports are dying from overexposure, editorialism, inflation and a number of other things. Football, baseball and basketball, for instance, have millions of fans coast to coast, but few of them ever set foot in a baseball park, a football stadium or a basketball court. Instead, they sit before their TV sets and swallow the insipid "color and commentary" propaganda given.
My only request is that TV leave hockey alone. So far, there are no $400,000 bonus babies in hockey, no prima donnas, no time-outs, no lags in the speed of the game, no microphones in the pads of the players, no gimmicks of any kind. Hockey doesn't need gimmicks. NHL teams played to 93.7% of capacity during the regular season of 1964-65. Their fans go out to the games. You don't find any empty seats at hockey rinks, because this is one sport that has been left to its own.
Is there any way that we fans who have no nearby baseball games to attend can put pressure on the TV moguls to give us a ball game on both Saturday and Sunday?
J. PAUL JOHNSON
Port Angeles, Wash.
Thanks tremendously for your uplifting report on the Pittsburgh Pirates (Wham! Bam! and Alley Oops, May 2). You see, I got the word—"The Pittsburgh Pirates will take the National League pennant and the World Series crown for 1966"—and your report just strengthened my beliefs!
Aztec, N. Mex.
Tom C. Brody's article was fabulous. It brought out the fact that the Pirates have the ability to work as a team and do not thrive on one or two outstanding players alone. I am glad that, finally, someone has given recognition to the best keystone combination in baseball, but I was disappointed that you did not mention Vernon Law's four-hitter earlier in the season.
C. W. HORN
When I looked back at your April 18 LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER I was very happy to see that there is at least one intelligent man on SI's baseball staff: Mark Mulvoy. He is the only one who picked the Pittsburgh Pirates, the strongest team in baseball. I was also very surprised to see that Bill Leggett thinks the Pirates are going to finish eighth, behind every team excluding New York and Houston. You can tell Bill Leggett for me that he is out of his mind. The Pirates are the future World Champions.
Congratulations and thanks to SI and Jack Olsen for that moving five-part series on Cassius Clay (A Case of Conscience, April 11 et seq.). It was, unquestionably, the finest I have ever read on him. Like Mr. Olsen, I cannot bring myself to hate Cassius as so many other Americans do. Instead, I see before me the image of that "clean and sparkling champion" the world was waiting for and saw in Clay for such a brief time, before we found out he was just as confused and misguided as the world around him. Your article brought me much enjoyment, but, at the same time, much sorrow, and, I hope, understanding.
MICHAEL DI NUNZIO
As an avid Boston Celtics fan who suffered sleepless nights and acid indigestion during the recent playoffs, I looked forward to reading your May 9 article (Some Old Pros Refuse to Die). Much to my chagrin, I discovered that it was not a fair appraisal of the games or the Celtics but an article on John Havlicek.
Certainly, I concur in your opinion that Mr. Havlicek is an outstanding basketball player, but I strongly disagree with your seeming attitude that the rest of the team might as well have stayed on the bench.
JEAN E. BURKE
It is about time that John (Hondo) Havlicek received some attention. He is indeed the best basketball player in the NBA. In college he had the fortune, or perhaps, misfortune, of playing on the same team with spectacular Jerry Lucas, whom he has surpassed in skills in the NBA. Now, as a pro, he is overshadowed by Bill Russell. Nevertheless, Havlicek has persevered. As a Hondo admirer, I thank you for giving him his due.
West Hartford, Conn.
If the Boston fans cannot find a silver basketball for outgoing Coach Red Auerbach, I suggest they give him a gold-plated cigar with an eternal flame.
In your April 25 story, An Added Attraction for a Season's Finale, Curry Kirkpatrick asked the question, "Will there ever be anybody just a little bit bigger than the Boston Celtics?" My answer to him is a definite yes. Many of the other NBA teams match the Celtics in skill and probably in desire, but alas, they just don't have the luck. Boston's three-leaf-clover emblem should more appropriately be a four-leaf clover. Never have I seen a basketball team that had so many of its shots bounce so many times around the hoop and still go in. Never have I seen a basketball team get so many rebounds and so many loose balls simply by being accidentally in the right place for the bounce. In other words, never have I seen a team, any team in any sport, as lucky as the Boston Celtics.
Each year for the past half a dozen seasons, basketball "experts" have said that the time had finally come for the Celtic dynasty to end. Age had diminished the unparalleled skills of their players, they said, and each year was to be the year of the Celtics' downfall. They said it after Sharman retired. They said it when Cousy left. Then it was Ramsey, and this year it was Heinsohn. Now Coach Arnold (Red) Auerbach is retiring with 1,037 wins to his credit. Now it seems that Willie Naulls and K. C. Jones will leave as well. Without Auerbach at the helm, the argument continues, the Celtics will flounder. But will they? Each year they have come up with the necessary elements, with the little extra they needed to win. In Bill Russell, they have a coach who has played on championship teams since his junior year of college. My guess is that the winning tradition will continue for at least a few more years.
Good—so we've found it out: SI has a basketball reporter named Curry who's wild about Boston. The pistachio he wrote about the NBA seasonal and a playoff windup in the East handsomely distorts the significance of five anticlimactic postseason games as opposed to the 80 regular-season tilts.
Outside of American League baseball, NBA basketball is starting to qualify as the sorriest spectator sport in America, owing to the ridiculous 80-games-to-knock-off-the-Knicks seasonal program. What did the NBA Eastern Division add up to this season? Philadelphia wins title in 80 games (2/3 of which were on the road); Boston wins division championship in five games. Is this anyway to run a sport?
PRAISE FROM HOMER
Just read your article (A Game Girl in a Man's Game, May 2) about Roberta Bingay in the Boston Marathon. Sixty-two years ago (1904) the writer of this letter was the winner of that famous race. Shortly afterward, when asked to give my impressions of it, I said that it was "an exhibition of physical torture."
My congratulations to a game girl in a man's game, and it is my sincere hope that she does not attempt it again.