THE STATE OF THE GAME
Thanks for Bill Wall's ideas and thoughts on methods of cleaning up collegiate basketball (Time to Clean Up Basketball, Feb. 14). The administration of any academic community that allows an athletic department to run unchecked is asking for problems. An administration that condones turning students and faculty away from home games and allows the "paying public" to monopolize the seats in the stadium or arena cannot justify the athletic department's existence in an educational institution.
We should start cleaning up all collegiate athletics by issuing grants-in-aid on, first, academic qualifications and, second, a need factor. This aid would be open to all students, male and female, athlete and non-athlete. Of course, all financial aid would be handled from a separate office on the campus, i.e., the department of admissions, scholarship committee. The coach would then become a teacher-coach, instead of a talent scout with a large bankroll.
WILLIAM G. THORNTON
Coach of track
St. Olaf College
Articles like Time to Clean Up Basketball would be unnecessary if college athletics abandoned their hypocritical pursuit of amateurism. According to the dictionary, a professional activity is one engaged in by persons receiving financial return. The college athletic scholarship is, obviously, financial return, and when the NCAA says that any financial return beyond the standard scholarship violates amateurism, that statement is arbitrary and illogical. If one cent is paid a college athlete to perform his skill, professionalism is present.
We should admit that scholarship athletes are professionals. Then there would be no need for under-the-table bidding for players, and whatever return a player could command from a college would be his right in accordance with the principles of free enterprise. Of course, the resulting contract would be legally binding and, if the contracts were made on a four-year basis, the college would be protected against encroachment by the pro leagues.
Granted, you have published two fine articles in reaction to the riot that erupted in the Minnesota-Ohio State game (An Ugly Affair in Minneapolis, Feb. 7). And we can only echo support for the efforts of National Association of Basketball Coaches President Wall to clean up basketball. On the other hand, we marvel at your audacity in citing Tom Burleson (Tall Drink of Mountain Can-Do, Feb. 14) for his "great move," an elbow in the face. Rather than being "unsophisticated retaliation," Burleson's act is, in retrospect, almost enough to have been a good excuse for rioting similar in nature to that which occurred in Minneapolis under such frightening circumstances. It is obvious that housecleaning of basketball is a good idea, but are you serious about it?
Brigham Young University
William Johnson has written another fine article (Games of the Rainbow, Feb. 14) in his continuing coverage of the Winter Olympics. I am disturbed, though, by his treatment of the women's figure-skating competition. Mr. Johnson seems to imply that Trixi Schuba's domination of the school figures and her steady, if unglamorous, performance in the free-skating event meant that runners-up Karen Magnussen and Janet Lynn were more deserving of the gold medal.
It seems to be a common expectation that leading athletes must not only be outstanding performers but also have exciting personalities and beautiful bodies. This superstar combination does not occur frequently. A winning performance carries with it an excitement of its own for which a pretty face or an attractive smile is no substitute. Miss Schuba is worthy of her medal, and she is entitled to its full honor.
One statement about the figure skating does not ring true. You say that Trixi Schuba's gold medal was Austria's first in figure skating. In the women's event, Austria had one previous winner, Hernia Planck-Szabó in 1924. Karl Schafer won the men's singles in 1932 and again in '36, and Wolfgang Schwarz won in 1968. And in the pairs, Austrians won in 1924 and 1956.
WILLIAM H. REGN
In your Jan. 31 Olympic preview on figure skating you said, "Both U.S. girls will be challenged by Canadian Karen Magnussen, whose only problem has been inconsistency." Obviously Karen solved that problem (if she ever had it) by passing both Julie Lynn Holmes and Janet Lynn and winning the silver medal.
Mrs. D. R. TREMBLAY
Birch Island, British Columbia
With 1,128 athletes to choose from, SI staff successfully picked 52 of the 105 med al winners for a commendable percentage of .495. You also were able to match 23 winners with the same medal they won (e.g Ard Schenk's three gold medals in sped skating). Your best event for predictions was figure skating, which earned you a .661 mark. The disqualification of Austria's Karl Schranz and the poor showing of the US men and France's skiers made Alpine skiing your worst event. You could only predict six of the 18 medalists for a .333 percentage.
Thank you and hooray for Jim Harrison's readable plea to save Yellowstone National Park and all our wilderness (Old, Faithful and Mysterious, Feb. 14). Let the wilderness remain so that some men and women can go there to find themselves in balance with their environment. Let the 53% "drive through in half a day" visitors stay in the urban areas and live with their ecological carelessness until they are motivated to give nature a chance and come and take a wall with her.
PATRICK H. O'LEARY
Now you've done it. You have encouraged millions of Americans to walk "that minimal quarter of a mile" to see Yellowstone! yet unspoiled splendor. An otherwise excellent article, mind you, for the author beautifully expressed his appreciation of this great natural wilderness. But until we all truly come to realize the priceless value of such magnificence existing right here within our own country, I would refrain from recommending to the public that everyone trod, upon this sacred land. The crowds have already ruined 5% of Yellowstone National Park. If they follow your advice, what is to become of the remainder?
WARREN J. WINTERS
Ann Arbor, Mich.
Coles Phinizy's story about Don Sheldon of Talkeetna, Alaska (Off into the Wild White Yonder, Feb. 14) has to be one of the funniest pieces to appear on your pages in a long time. What may strike readers as a bit of truth-stretching by Phinizy can be certified as understatement by myself. I have known Don Sheldon for a dozen years and have flown perhaps 100 times with him while covering the Alaskan scene. He is a living legend and a wonder and, if not the best bush pilot in Alaska, the craftiest and most courageous. The McKinley area of the Alaska Range is his backyard, and no one knows it better. Don has the capacity to make very nearly every flight a droll adventure. One Delta Air Lines jet captain who flew a mountain recon with Don called the flight white knuckles all the way. This was no criticism of Don but admiration for a man who makes his daily living in such a rugged place.
One of the famous crash stories about Sheldon should be told as it says so much about the man. While flying mountaineers to and from a glacier in the Wrangells, Sheldon paused to gas up. He had been flying for 18 hours and was heading home. While gassing the wing tank on his Cessna 180, he fell asleep, dreaming about flying the Wrangells, one guesses. He fell off the wing with the gas can and crashed into a pile of rocks, knocking himself out. Sheldon said that he thought he had really crashed and was dead. It was the 747-size Alaska mosquito that brought him back to life. He said he knew hell could not be that bad and that he must be living. A bit bunged up and well drained of blood, he got back into the Cessna and flew home.
Talkeetna and Sheldon will not last forever, but it is nice to know that such a place and such a cast of characters exist. As for Sheldon, he is one of a kind.
TOO MANY KICKS
I agree completely with Joe Marshall (A Wishbone of Contention, Feb. 14) when he contends that the field goal has a dominance, at least in the pros, that is not conducive to the game. The touchdown should be the method that produces the scoring champion in any league, at any level.
I propose that the NFL move the goalposts to the end line (as is now contemplated) and not allow an attempt for a field goal unless the ball can be placed by the holder on or inside the opponent's 35-yard line. This would still produce field goals as long as 45 yards (long enough for accuracy and distance skills to be demonstrated). I further propose that the scrimmage line remain the same if the kicking team fails to score on its field-goal attempt. I have never been able to understand why the defending team should be, in effect, penalized (as is the case probably 90% of the time) by having the ball moved back to its 20-yard line when it was the offensive team that failed to complete the kick. If the scrimmage line were to remain the same, the offensive team would not be in such a hurry to kick.
Sport historians need not retort. I know the importance of the foot in the evolution of football, but it should be booted out of the dominant role in modern football. Pun intended.
University Park, Pa.
In reply to your Jan. 24 article, You Make the Most with What You Got, the Memphis Pros of the ABA are here to stay! They are not bluffers and they are not miracles. They are solid. The trade gave them Randy Denton, a promising center, George Lehmann, a ball-controlling guard, and Warren Davis, a quiet man who does a fine job off the bench. Since that trade, attendance has soared. Basketball, both college and professional, has caught on in Memphis. Tell Peter Carry that Memphis, is not bluffing.
You failed to point out one very important fact. Attendance this year, after 33 dates, is more than 55,000 over last year's attendance at the same time. Memphis is definitely supporting the Pros, no matter what their nickname is. And, by the way, the Memphis Miracles doesn't sound all that bad.
It is rare these days to find a magazine that offers interesting and inventive reading. Articles in other publications often seem so rehashed that the reader feels he is partaking of yesterday's leftovers. Not so with your Jan. 31 article by Herman Weiskopf (Being a Good Sport About It All). Here we are offered an insight into the world of the Hollywood stunt men, athletes who greatly enhance movies yet are hidden in oblivion. Like all things wrapped in mystery, once revealed they prove to be very interesting indeed.
Great Neck, N.Y.
It is about time someone gave stunt men the credit they deserve. I don't think they really do it for the money. I believe it is the feeling of accomplishment in doing what others cannot do that keeps them going.
WALTER KOWAL JR.
Mr. Garr M. Kluender claims (19TH HOLE, Jan. 31) that chess is not a sport "in the true sense of the word" or in contrast, for example, to marbles, which involves "a degree of physical coordination." Cambridge University has awarded a half-blue to its chess team representatives since 1873, when annual matches with Oxford began, thus putting chess in the same category with minor sports like golf, fencing, lacrosse and cross-country.
In 1910 the Oxford chess club awarded "colours" to its teams, giving them the right to wear a tri-colored necktie or scarf (dark blue, white and red). Cambridge representatives appeared in natty blazers, with light blue (the Cambridge color) pipings and crossed chessboards on the left breast. They also wore the standard Cambridge half-blue tie.
The Oxford tie and scarf were forgotten when the chess matches were resumed after World War I, due in part, perhaps, to the fact that Oxford's best player was almost blind. But efforts have recently been made to revive them so that this year's team can appear duly attired at the annual match in March. (In 1900 the Oxford team showed up in frock coats and top hats.) The Oxford club has also asked the Blues Committee for a half-blue, citing Cambridge as an example, but it has been turned-down on the ground that if half-blues were given for chess, the bridge and tiddlywinks chaps would not be far behind.
In the February issue of Reader's Digest, it is said that tests at Temple University show that "the physical strain of tournament chess, as measured by pulse rate, skin temperature and other indexes, is equivalent to a 10-round boxing match or five sets of tennis." I personally have felt more fatigued after a three-hour chess game than after rowing a mile and a quarter in a race. At least after the rowing had been over for three or four minutes I felt quite myself.
The recent achievements of America's Bobby Fischer in the chess world have aroused enormous interest in the game. Certainly SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is justified in devoting articles to him.
FRANKLIN F. RUSSELL
Oxford University chess team 1914
To put things in their proper perspective, football, hockey, horseshoe pitching and table tennis involve a degree of physical coordination rather than purely mental activity and are therefore only sports.
Bridge and chess are not sports? Well, I don't know about that, but as long as we're on the subject let me say that my pet peeve is the practice of including horse racing as a part of sports. Horse racing should be included under farm news, along with reports on how many eggs the chickens laid that day and how much milk the cows gave.
MYLAN T. TRIVANOVICH
Santa Susana, Calif.
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