LONG AND SHORT
The Case for the 12-foot Basket (Dec. 4) is a prime example of irresponsible journalism. This article could well be the catalyst for a rule change that would bring in the 12-foot basket and, with it, the decline and fall of the U.S.
It should be apparent to thinking people that such a change will soon result in 9-foot players, probably in less than a generation, at the pace of today's world. This would be a tragedy. Seven-foot men can live in our society with some difficulty; 9-footers could not. Consider American homes, almost all with 8-foot ceilings. How many billions of dollars would be required to rebuild the nation's houses? The game would not long be improved, the 7-footers would become the small men on the floor.
Let's think things through before rushing into print.
ROBERT H. RICHARDS. D.D.S.
Raising the basket height to 12 feet to minimize the physical advantage of the big man in basketball makes about as much sense to me as making all football running backs who have 100-yard-dash times of under 10 seconds wear lead weights so that they will not have any "unfair" advantage over the slower players.
New Haven, Conn.
Your "case for the 12-foot basket" just might be the answer for college basketball, which now seems to be in pathetic shape. Just imagine: everyone in the U.S. takes it for granted that UCLA will go undefeated three years straight, winning about 90 games in a row. It's ridiculous.
In every other sport but basketball the underdog has some chance. The Boston Red Sox pulled "the miracle" in baseball this year, while Indiana did the same in college football. Even such perennial winners as the Green Bay Packers and Notre Dame lose occasionally. But in basketball, there are virtually no upsets when the big man takes control. Pro basketball is not much better.
Let's give the 12-foot basket a chance. Otherwise, my winter sports diet will remain hockey.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
It occurs to me that a compromise, which should satisfy a majority of the coaches, would be to raise the standard height of the basket one inch each year over a period of 24 years.
SHORT AND SWEET
I've just read your 1967-68 college basketball issue (Dec. 4). I hadn't realized that Providence, Holy Cross, La Salle, Villanova, Delaware (watch 'em this year!), Temple. NYU, St. John's, Fordham, Manhattan, Seton Hall, Georgetown, Army, Navy and Rutgers had stopped playing basketball. It's really strange, since about half these schools were in postseason tournaments last year.
Or maybe you'll have a supplementary issue?
Didn't you forget something in your basketball scouting report on the Big Eight, e.g., Nebraska, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Colorado, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Missouri?
Congratulations on a great college basketball issue. I was glad to see that you did not present a list of the top 20 teams of the nation. So many sports publications rate teams in this way, and I have always thought it to be a ridiculous thing to do. How can you possibly compare teams before they have even played a single game? Hats off to SI for giving a clear, concise report on the various conferences and independents without resorting to a "top 20" list.
Great! Simply great! William Johnson's splendid article, Go to the Races (Dec. 4), featuring the riding feats and disappointments of plucky little Rider Jesse Davidson, had much of the charm and drama of the Thoroughbreds. It reminds me of an article of a couple of years ago on "the Butterfly" (The Happy Punter of Ally Pally, Aug. 9, 1965), telling of the crafty exploits of an Australian at England's "frying pan" track at Alexandra Park.
I could smell that Maryland fried chicken and hear the tipsters selling "Jack's Green Card." The only thing missing was reference to Sammy Palumbo, Jesse's predecessor. Thanks for the great entertainment.
HUGH C. McGOWAN
GAULS AND GAELS
" 'Oh! The French are on the sea,' says the Shan Van Voght" goes an old Irish ballad about expected aid to Ireland at a point of history. (Not quite the same as Finnegans Wake!) Well, in 1967, the French landed in West Cork and a very delightful "international incident" took place (An International Incident in Cork, Nov. 27).
This is to tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed Clive Gammon's article. The descriptions of the Irish countryside, the pubs and the people are excellent. I loved Minahane and O'Keeffe (Big Tim, no doubt!). However, it's too bad they don't know their Irish history. If they did, they would know that Irish-French relations go way back. Hence the Irish names Dooley (formerly Dullea), Moloney (formerly Molyneux), Dalton, Driscoll, Devaney, Darcy, Dorsey and Desmond, among others.
EVELEEN M. QUINN
In his letter (19TH HOLE, Dec. 4) on Hitler and the Berlin Olympics, Avery Brundage notes that the initial competition that year, 1936, was won by a German. Correct. Tilly Fleischer, who won the women's javelin throw and broke Babe Didrikson's Games record, was responsible for the swastika flag being the first to be raised to mark a victory.
Mr. Brundage also says, "It was the first time in the history of the Games that an Olympic track-and-field event had been won by a German athlete." Incorrect. Lina Radke of Germany won the women's 800-meter run at Amsterdam in 1928. Further, though the Olympic Committee now regards the 1906 Games at Athens as "not official," the Germans won the tug-of-war that year. Tug-of-war once was part of the track-and-field program.
Incidentally, though Hitler, as Mr. Brundage says, ceased receiving victorious athletes in his box after the first day's competition, it is known that after Karl Hein won the hammer throw on the second day of competition. Hitler personally received the German athlete in the reception room behind his box. This was not witnessed by the crowd.
Director of Public Relations
New York University
New York City