May I compliment Frank Deford on his articles on the NCAA basketball tournament. Not only did he point out the strong and weak teams in the tournament, but he also pointed out that NCAA now stands for No Chance Against Alcindor. This is so true that I feel the other teams in the NCAA deserve a break.
Why not declare UCLA the undisputed champions for the next two years? This not only would give a few more teams a chance to play in the tournament (the Pacific Eight runner-up, for instance), but it would also give a few more teams a chance to remain in the ranks of the undefeated. The tournament could follow the same pattern except the teams entered would compete for second place instead of first.
Oak Harbor, Wash.
Truly, UCLA has probably the greatest team in college basketball history. But, from what I saw of the "fabulous" Lew Alcindor in the final against Dayton, I was not impressed. Sure, he can block shots just by lifting his arm, and he can stuff the ball through the hoop. But so can any other seven-foot man. Mike Warren, Lynn Shackelford and Kenny Heitz make the Bruins what they are, not Alcindor.
When Mervin Hyman made the profound statement that UCLA was "everybody's favorite" (BASKETBALL'S WEEK, March 27), he was taking liberties that should not belong to any reporter.
CHARLES H. JOHNSON, D.D.S.
April 10, 1967
I am overjoyed that the National Basketball Committee has figured out how to improve my appreciation of college and high school basketball; but I'm afraid that outlawing the dunk shot is not enough. Why not outlaw all shots within 10 feet (or 20 or 30 feet) of the basket?
The action of this small but enlightened group of progressive and imaginative sportsmen vividly points up the shortsightedness of leaders in other sports. Why wasn't the home run outlawed when Babe Ruth was making a shambles of baseball? Why was Joe Louis allowed to continue using that lethal right after it became obvious that he was better than anybody else? I'm waiting for the day that Jean-Claude Killy is required to ski on one ski. I'm sure the rest of the sports world is with me.
DAVID J. BLOMGREN
•For SI's views on the subject, see page 24.—ED.
Many thanks to Martin Kane for the excellent story on soccer (True Football Gets Its Big Chance, March 27). It is high time that the finest sport in the world did get a chance in this country. At last the public will be watching a sport with action, rather than falling asleep in front of the television screen waiting for some sign of life from a bunch of Vic Tanny rejects gathered together on a baseball diamond.
ALEX A. HOLENKO
If American sportsmen need to be convinced that soccer is real action, let them watch one game on a muddy field. They'll love it!
Contrary to Martin Kane's statements, I think the youth of America does have a lot of interest in this fast-moving sport. Take, for example, Saint Peter's Prep in Jersey City, N.J. When tryouts were announced to initiate a soccer club under the direction of a teacher, Mr. Tony Verdoni (former Tulane standout), over 130 boys turned out, twice the number that tried out for football or basketball.
Jersey City, N.J.
One thought occurred to me on reading the article: I hope there will be provision for standing spectators. In England, at least, most of the younger fans prefer to stand on the terracing rather than sit. This gives a much greater sense of atmosphere and participation.
DAVID N. BURTON
It's a pretty tough thing to have to sit back after a career in physical education and coaching—and almost 40 years' association with the great game of soccer—and swallow Martin Kane's thoughtless reference to "poorly coached high schools and colleges" in what was otherwise a well-turned article.
I don't have to defend our school and college coaches in American soccer. What Kane ought to do is point out the difficulties of the coaches' job in competing with the glamour sports and the fact that many of the kids with whom they work have never been near a soccer ball before.
DON Y. YONKER
Elkins Park, Pa.
I think that venerable baseball managers like Leo Durocher and Casey Stengel would disagree with the National Professional Soccer League's premise that a vocabulary of 700 words is sufficient to argue with a referee.
STRAIGHTENING A RECORD
I see that a slip of the official PGA pen eight years ago has innocently found its way into the career performance chart in the final article of Mark McCormack's excellent series (My Friend Arnold Palmer, March 6 et seq.).
The PGA statistician erred in recording a 72 instead of a 62 for Arnold's final round in the 1959 Thunderbird Invitational at Palm Springs. Thus it appears that a group of 65s were Palmer's lowest fourth-round scores, when actually it was that 62 back in 1959. I thought you would like to set that record straight.
Recently you suggested a couple of rule changes that would make the game of hockey better (SCORECARD, Feb. 20). I would also like to make a suggestion.
On Feb. 8 the Rangers were losing 2-1 to the Boston Bruins with less than a minute to go. Suddenly, the Boston team had an extra man on the ice for all the world to see. The fans (the game was at Madison Square Garden) and the Ranger bench tried to attract the attention of Referee John Ashley, but to no avail. He just didn't see the extra man.
On March 15 a similar incident occurred, also involving Ashley. This time a member of the Chicago Black Hawks sitting on the bench threw a new stick onto the ice for a Hawk who had broken his. This is illegal. At the time, the score was 2-1, Black Hawks. While the Rangers argued with Ashley, Dennis Hull was observed carrying the broken and the unbroken sticks off the ice.
My point is this: Ashley didn't see the infractions, which isn't his fault. However, maybe a linesman did. If linesmen were allowed to call penalties, much illegal activity would be stopped. It is impossible for one man to watch the whole ice, especially on a break. I have seen men trip others in front of a linesman when the referee was not looking. The referee may not have the best angle; not all illegal activity takes place around the puck. Let's change the rules and allow all three officials to call penalties.
I must take exception to reader L. Irvin Williams' contention that race-car drivers are not athletes (19TH HOLE, March 20). If he believes what he says in his letter then his "appreciation" of Richard Petty is shallow indeed.
Auto racing is physically and mentally demanding: it requires constant, intense concentration—often under terrible extremes of heat, toxic fumes and violent accelerations. Auto racing also requires training and practice the likes of which is not to be found in too many of the other popular sports.
Does Mr. Williams know that the same qualities that make a Stirling Moss or Jim Clark preeminent in sports car and Grand Prix racing also make championship-caliber swimmers, horsemen, bobsledders or what have you? Is he aware that the skill required by auto racers is such that, at the top echelons (i.e., Grand Prix racing), hardly more than a dozen men in the world can seriously compete? Can he say the same of World Series baseball?
Granted, auto racing may be unique in that competition is between "teams" of men and machines. But if Mr. Williams would care to do some homework on the sport of motor racing, thus ridding himself of his abysmal ignorance, he would see how aptly his description of an athlete applies to this activity.
LIEUT. JAMES V. HALLORAN III, USAF
Grand Forks AFB, N.D.
If Mr. Irvin Williams does not feel that the outcome of an automobile race is determined by the "skills, fitness and preparation" of the driver, then I challenge him to step into an automobile and drive a hundred laps at Monaco, without thinking. I challenge him to conquer Germany's N√ºrburgring with its 172 tree-lined corners per 14-mile lap or drive in the rain on Spa, Belgium's serpentine course, hitting speeds of 160 mph while holding his gear lever in place with one hand, or race nonstop for 10 hours over Italian roads unknown to him at flat-out speeds, going over blind brows at 170 mph, foot to the floor.
A champion driver is not a true athlete, for athletes may make mistakes. Bart Starr may overthrow a receiver and lose a ball game. Arnold Palmer may have trouble putting and blow a match. If a racing driver brakes a split second too late or misses a shift, he could die. So he becomes a faultless machine. One could not possibly watch Jimmy Clark, shifting gears every two seconds, draw away from the field to win the 1965 French Grand Prix in a 4-year-old training car and still say that "the emphasis definitely lies with the car." It is true that the mechanical aspects do play a big part in the sport, but once the driver is behind the wheel the car becomes almost incidental, for on the track the car is only a power source; everything else comes from within the man.
There is no question that it takes great physical conditioning just to be able to stand the heat and discomfort of a racing automobile while driving at high speeds for long periods of time. The ordinary man could not endure the strain of such constant driving even at normal speeds and in a comparatively luxurious automobile.
As for athletic ability, what else can one call the physical skill involved when a Richard Petty, Jimmy Clark or an A. J. Foyt skilfully controls his machine and makes it go where he wants it to go when he wants it to?
Indeed, to say that a race driver is not an athlete because he uses a car is like saying Bob Seagren is not an athlete because he uses a pole or that Arnold Palmer is not an athlete because he uses clubs!
Re Ajax, mount for Colgate-Palmolive's White Knight (PEOPLE, March 13), it seems entirely possible to us that Rider Tom Sweet's quoted speed of 42 mph could be accurate.
Naturally, Man o' War (37 mph), Citation (38 mph) or Swaps (39 mph) could not run that many miles in an hour, and their rates were calculated for their best timing over a shorter route. The American Racing Manual, 1966 edition, lists Big Racket's 20 4/5 as a world record for the quarter-mile. Converting this speed into miles per hour would result in a figure of 43.27 mph. Thus, even with 195-pounder Sweet in the saddle, the camera could have caught Ajax's speed over a distance of, say, 10 or 20 yards at such a rate that it could have been converted to the claimed figure of 42 mph.
M. FAULCONER GLASS
The Thoroughbred Record