Congratulations for giving your Sportsman of the Year award to Lee Trevino (A Common Man with an Uncommon Touch, Dec. 20). SuperMex typifies the American ideology that anyone can be successful if he works to attain his goal.
After winning three tournaments in one month, the only thing Lee could do to top that feat would be to part the Red Sea with a nine-iron.
Fairmont, W. Va.
Hurrah for your choice of Lee Trevino. Terrific!
MARY ANN ANDERSON
I am totally appalled at your selection for Sportsman of the Year. I have the utmost respect for Lee Trevino as a golfer and for his ability to spread his charisma from Pebble Beach to Oakmont. But Lee will have to play many more years of golf to reach the peak that Roberto Clemente has achieved in a sport that requires every God-given ability. No sporting event holds the public interest as does the World Series, and I am sure you will agree that Roberto completely dominated the Series in 1971.
January 3, 1972
You people are unbelievable! What does it take for a harness-racing driver to get the recognition due him, namely SI's Sportsman of the Year award? Herve Filion has totally dominated his sport as no other person has done, breaking his own world records year after year. And this year, proving his skill against the "big boys" at Yonkers and Roosevelt, he has extended his domination.
Lee Trevino is a fine competitor and has contributed much to the excitement of golf. But if your criteria for selecting the Sportsman of the Year include not only excitement but also domination, total mastery and fantastic popular support and recognition within one's sport, then it is inconceivable for you to have ignored Filion.
Finally, this testimony comes not only from an avid sports fan in general, but from one whose family owns a horse that has been raced against—and beaten by—Filion. This love-hate relationship established, my vote goes to Filion.
How come your Sportsman of the Year is another professional? According to Webster's dictionary, a sport is something done for diversion, therefore professional athletes do not engage in sport. Professional athletics is big business, as the fans in cities like New York and Washington discover when their favorite teams move out because profits are down.
It is our feeling that sportsmen, and sportswomen, of the year should be chosen from the ranks of swimmers and distance runners. These athletes not only expend more time and energy in training than any other athletes, but they have no hope of commercializing on their skills. These are the true sportsmen. If you must recognize outstanding professional athletes, call them Big Businessmen of the Year.
CHUCK VAN DE ZANDE
DOUG VAN DE ZANDE
Thank you for making Lee Trevino your Sportsman of the Year. Along with millions of other citizens, I have pulled for this man ever since he won his first U.S. Open and challenged the golfing greats on the pro tour.
Lee represents a chance to dream for every hacker who has ever dared to think of playing winning golf. He is exemplary of the finest sportsmen there have ever been, and my hat is off to you for selecting him as Sportsman of the Year and to Mr. Trevino for being the man he is.
RICHARD D. RORABECK
Curry Kirkpatrick wrote a super article on SuperMex. It is true that Trevino has added a new dimension to his sport. He has given great inspiration to many athletes, nearly $25,000 to charities around the world, and great excitement to all his followers.
Sports Illustrated, by its nature, is not an outdoors magazine, but I cannot praise you enough for the article and paintings on the canvasback duck (Flitting Ghosts of Pleasures Past, Dec. 13). Those few illustrations can do as much for conservation and ecology as countless pages of words on pollution, because they are concrete and representative of a passing age.
Numbers scare me. When one can place a rather exact number on any species, that species is in trouble. An estimate of millions of canvasbacks would be reassuring, but 100,000? Perhaps there were once a trillion passenger pigeons. Then, suddenly, there was one. Every single living whooping crane is accounted for. Some species die out with the advance of man, others as an aftermath of man and his pollution. No one can predict the order in which species will become extinct, but I have one question: Where on that list is man himself?
Thank you, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, for your part in a new and hopefully powerful conservation movement. Maybe it is not too late.
ALAN D. SMITH
West Lafayette, Ind.
It seems as though the canvasback duck is a dead species. In Illinois during November 1970, an estimated 111,000 were counted on Pool No. 19 of the Mississippi River near Keokuk, Iowa by Frank Belrose of the Illinois Natural History Survey. This was believed to be about half of the existing North American population of canvasbacks. The bird is in trouble, not from hunters, but from pollution. A diving duck, the canvasback feeds on river bottoms, and pollution has killed its food. Waterfowl biologists believe this is the reason so many of the birds have begun using the Mississippi River on their way to winter homes in the Chesapeake Bay during the past few years.
The canvasback has always been favored by waterfowlers, dating back to market hunting days, because of its tasty meat. Its name comes from the fact that hunters would ship their waterfowl (canvasbacks when they could get them) in canvas sacks with the written instructions, "I want my canvas back."
GARY C. THOMAS
I can't tell you how much I enjoyed Ray Cave's story. Having hunted ducks on Saginaw Bay for more than 30 years, I remember the majestic canvasbacks. This article sure puts a lump in my throat as I pass it on to my son and tell him of the old days.
Congratulations on your fine story about the Los Angeles Lakers, Getting Up and Going After a Title (Dec. 13). Everyone should realize that the Lakers have the soundest team in the NBA with West, Goodrich, Chamberlain, McMillian and Hairston.
In regard to your fine article on the title-bound Lakers, I would like to offer a few words of praise to the man people hate to praise, namely, Wilt Chamberlain.
Although 35-year-old Wilt is accused daily of being lazy or a troublemaker, his awesome ability to dominate a game has never been equaled by any other player—no, not even Bill Russell. Wilt can outmuscle opponents on the board, intimidate them with his shot blocking and, when needed, flash around them for a dunk. Having watched Wilt for a decade, I often wonder how many championships he could have won with teammates like Sharman, Cousy, Howell, Havlicek, Sam Jones, K. C. Jones, et al.
Your Dec. 13 cover photo of Gail Goodrich is reminiscent of a similar SI cover picture of Gail following UCLA's national championship victory over Michigan in 1965. In each case Gail is shown driving around a befuddled—and taller—opponent.
If it's true that a positive cancels a negative, then congratulations—you've done it. I was somewhat displeased by your earlier (Oct. 25) remarks implying the Los Angeles Lakers were "sinking," because I knew then, as I know now, that this isn't the case at all. They have been transformed into a superbly conditioned, fast-breaking offensive power, thanks to Bill Sharman's methods, and their defense is as stingy as ever. But you have reversed your opinion in the Dec. 13 issue.
Thousand Oaks, Calif.
I would like to commend Peter Carry on his article on the Lakers. But isn't he in essence contradicting his article The Best Team—Ever (Nov. 15)? He said the Lakers are already in the playoffs and have a chance for the championship. He should have said that they have the championship in their hands and, as the title denotes, they are also getting up and going after the title of Best Team—Ever.
Some comments on the past college football season:
Even though the selection of best teams often seems arbitrary, the selection of best conferences need not be. Records of conferences against national competition speak for themselves. At the end of the season winning percentages went like this:
Southeastern Conference—67% against the other major conferences (i.e., the ACC, Big Eight, Big Ten, Pacific Eight and Southwest), and 83% against all other opponents.
Big Eight—78% against other major conferences, 77% against all other opponents.
Pacific Eight—40% against other major conferences, 54% against all others.
Southwest—34%, against other major conferences, 53% against all others.
Atlantic Coast—44% against other major conferences, 39% against all others.
Big Ten—37% against other major conferences, 32% against all others.
The selection of bowl teams supports the won-lost columns: the SEC sent its top six teams to bowls, the Big Eight its top four. And before Big Ten advocates protest too loudly, the Big Ten winning percentage against all opponents for the past five years tells the tale: 1967-41%, 1968-48%, 1969-43%, 1970-43%.
Thus it would seem that Alabama's 11-0 record in the SEC is perhaps the season's greatest achievement. Since Paul Bryant returned to 'Bama in 1958, six SEC teams have battled their way to undefeated, untied seasons and SEC titles. Four of them have been Bryant's Crimson Tide. But Bryant is only a step ahead of Bob Devaney of Nebraska, who has produced three undefeated Big Eight champions during his tenure with the Cornhuskers.
All of which goes to make the 1972 Orange Bowl one of the alltime best postseason match-ups.
JOHN G. CLASSÉ
Joe Marshall's article on NFL statisticians (They Do It by the Numbers, Nov. 29) was a well-done, long-awaited tribute to the men who infuse an emotional phenomenon like sport with a measure of objectivity. As a former stat man for the Johns Hopkins lacrosse team, I was acutely aware of the subjectivity that nonetheless taints the numbers. When one is seated 40 yards from the goal at ground level (as the rules require) the decision as to whether a missed shot would have entered the goal mouth save for the goalie's stick becomes an agonizing question, and the choice never pleases everyone. Your dedication to reporting the total scope of sport makes your publication uniquely appealing.
Address editorial mail to TIME & LIFE Bldg., Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.