A quote attributed to Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders in the SCORECARD section of your Feb. 24 issue had a distasteful implication; namely, that if a team cannot win the title it should do what Buffalo did—finish last and get the first draft pick.
If the quote is accurate, Davis does a disservice to the sport he's part of. I need only remind him of the Bills' second-to-last game of last season. Playing with Flanker Eddie Rutkowski at quarterback due to a series of injuries, the Bills had Davis nibbling his fingers in anxiety right to the final gun, as Oakland won by only three points, 13-10.
The Bills that day, and every other time they took the field, extended themselves trying to win. Of course, that's to be expected of every team. Davis' implication therefore is a low blow.
RALPH C. WILSON JR.
Buffalo Bills Football Club
Al Davis says, "I did not say it jokingly nor did I mean to imply directly or indirectly that any team would purposely finish last. The quote was merely an observation on the entire draft system."—ED.
March 10, 1969
Although I have often disagreed with Dan Jenkins' view of the golf world, I felt that his selection of Bob Lunn, Bob Murphy and Bob Dickson as golf's next big three was well considered (A New Generation of Heroes, Feb. 17). Many sportswriters ignore the considerable role played by such dubious virtues as maturity, self-control and positive thinking in the success of present-day greats like Casper, Nicklaus, Palmer and Player. I found especially interesting and significant Jenkins' omission of two of the youngest, longest-hitting and perhaps most technically competent of the present crop of young golfers, Marty Fleckman and Bobby Cole.
DAVID W. CUSHMAN
East Brunswick, N.J.
SKIING MADE EASY
Congratulations to SI and Bob Ottum for the five-page report on Professor Kruckenhauser and his "wide-stance" style of ski instruction (An Infallible Revelation by the Pope of Skiing, Feb. 24). Recognition of the simple truths about skiing should end the "magnificent mystique" nurtured by ski instructors since skis got edges and style supplanted sport. As Professor K. has belatedly proved, skiing is really no harder to learn than riding a bike. Kids do it all the time, and not a few grownups as well.
Unfortunately, Ottum passes off one-half of Professor K.'s simple system—use of short skis for beginners—with exactly six lines. Actually, short skis are as important to learning to ski easily and quickly as is wide-track. Short-ee Ski Inventor Clif Taylor ended my 20 years of hacking my way through a dozen techniques by putting me on five-footers at Portillo, Chile seven seasons back. As an Instant Skier, I shortly schussed Professor K.'s beloved Valluga run at St. Anton, something I could never have done on long skis. Howard Head caught some of our early-day short-ski fever and came out with his own metal version. At long last, Taylor's 10 years of preaching the Graduated Length Method is being officially recognized.
Short skis are not only safe but fast, easy, cheap and easy to fit and transport. Furthermore, they are fun. Isn't that really what skiing should be?
Ski Writers Association of Southern California
West Covina, Calif.
I have been an avid baseball fan and a frustrated baseball player for all of my years, and have long contended that what the major leagues need at the helm is a fan rather than a strictly professional man. I can readily see from Mr. Leggett's article (The Big Leagues Select a Fan, Feb. 17) that baseball has now acquired the kind of leadership it must have in order to retain its rightful position as our national pastime.
ROBERT B. SMITHWICK
I guess those baseball owners muffed it again. There is no doubt that Bowie Kuhn knows more about baseball than General Eckert did, but that isn't saying much. If the owners want someone who really knows baseball, why not Stan Musial, Ted Williams or Campy Campanella? Why not Jackie Robinson? If they want someone who can change and modernize baseball, why not Leo Durocher? Bill Veeck? Eddie Stanky? All seven of these men would fit the job better than Vince Lombardi, Mike Burke, Chub Feeney or even Bowie Kuhn!
New Rochelle, N. Y.
Your SCORECARD item entitled "Troubled Oil on Waters" (Feb. 24) may lead some of SI's readers mistakenly to believe that the detergents used to disperse oil in both the Torrey Canyon and Santa Barbara disasters and the familiar household detergents are one and the same. Far from it! The chemicals employed to dissolve or disperse oil are special formulations of emulsifiers that are entirely different in makeup from the brand-name detergents.
Incidentally, Dr. J. E. Smith, author of the definitive work on the Torrey Canyon incident and director of Britain's Plymouth Marine Laboratory, carefully distinguished between the oil dispersant type of "detergent" and household products in his presentation before the recent annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science held in Dallas. As Dr. Smith stated in his book, the harmful ecological effects came from the solvent portion of the dispersants, not from the special surface-active agents in the formulations.
We hope that you will bring this to the attention of your readers. Our industry voluntarily converted to biodegradable ("soft") detergents in mid-1964, and we continue to work in behalf of the preservation of clean water throughout this nation.
ROBERT C. SINGER
The Soap and Detergent Association
New York City
LOCAL AND PERSONAL
As a former resident of Sewanee, I was delighted to read your recent article Down with the Heathen (Feb. 24). Although the majority of SI's readers have probably never heard of the University of the South, it is truly a fascinating place.
My congratulations for your consistent efforts to highlight sports on the local, personal and human level, as well as the national and professional scene.
MRS. JAMES R. HILL
CASE FOR AGGRESSION
I read with interest the article on Max Novich, the self-styled boxing coach for over-privileged boys (Pretend He's Your Sister, Feb. 17). I am convinced that there is a need for the sort of training that Dr. Novich is providing in an attempt to help the sheltered sons of wealthy suburbanites develop a sense of self-assuredness and vitality. While I am not sure that Dr. Novich and I would agree substantially on the particular importance of aggressive traits, I should think that his program is more beneficial than dangerous.
However, I would take issue with one statement attributed to Dr. Novich, not because I feel it demonstrates any prejudice on his part, but because I am sure that it is inaccurate. He says: "I don't want no underprivileged kids. Enough's being done for them. I only want overprivileged kids. They got a right to be aggressive just like anyone else." It cannot be gainsaid that underprivileged children more frequently encounter environmental stimuli of the sort that are likely to develop aggressive attitudes. But the fallacy lies in assuming that the aggressiveness that an underprivileged child quickly acquires is by any means as constructive an element as that which can be developed in middle- and upper-class children. This, I should think, applies with particular force in the case of a black child; his aggression is against his environment and the socioeconomic forces that significantly restrict his future opportunities. A racist and class-conscious society discourages serious ambition in such a child, and his aggressiveness inexorably takes the form of frustration and hostility.
I was pleasantly surprised when reading Bil Gilbert's article to discover that his hero, Dr. Max Novich, was my hero during our sojourn at Central High in Newark, N. J. back in the late '20s. We had to walk home from school every afternoon and I always tried to be in his company, for his aggressiveness was noticeable then and the school dropouts (yes, we had them then also) would not bother us as we walked through those tough neighborhoods. I am glad to see that he has made it.
STANLEY ZOLTO JR.
Ramsey, N. J.
Senator Everett Dirksen (PEOPLE, Feb. 17) tries to justify the Congressmen and their increased salaries by comparing them with the income of pro football players. Naturally, he conveniently overlooks one vital point. The football player's salary doesn't cost the taxpayer a single penny, unless he wishes to contribute. However, the taxpayers are forced to dig down in their pockets and come up with the money to pay politicians' salaries no matter how large these salaries are.
Cheating on one's Federal income tax is a felony punishable by a fine, imprisonment or both, so we pay or go to jail. Quite a bit of difference, don't you think?
W. T. BROWN