It certainly is ironic that your article about Marquette (Get Da Shoodah, Said Faddah, Feb. 21) and its fabulous center, Jim Chones, should appear at the same time Chones decided to sign a pro contract with the ABA. I must admit ignorance concerning his financial needs but, desperate case or not, it is time to put the brakes on the ABA. By conducting a campaign to deliberately remove college basketball players from their college teams the ABA is debasing the sport.
I am not blaming Chones for his decision because I am unaware of his motives. But the ABA has only one motive: to get the jump on the NBA and attempt to aid its own financial position by obtaining ballplayers prematurely at the expense of the college game.
I know there must be a signer to the glorious contract, and it is not the ABA that writes the player's signature, but there would not be a contract if the ABA did not wave it in the air for all fine college basketball players to see.
The ABA has to be slopped before it does any more damage. How can the ABA talk of a merger and still practice this disrespect to college teams, coaches and fans?
While reading your article on a fine Marquette team, I heard over the radio that Jim Chones had signed with the New York Nets. Quite a blow to Marquette fans, but even more of a blow to the coaches across the nation who have spent money and countless hours recruiting such players only to have them lured away by the raiding ABA. Since the merger between the two leagues is not in sight, perhaps the ABA would like to send one of its teams to the NCAA playoffs.
Chapel Hill, N.C.
Until the ABA and NBA merge, it is inevitable that there will be more cases of college players signing before they have finished their college eligibility. As long as basketball players go to college only as an apprenticeship for pro ball, they will naturally leave school as soon as it is advantageous to do so.
But there might be an alternative to this chaotic situation even without a merger. What if both pro leagues instituted farm systems as baseball has? Young men graduating from high school could turn pro immediately and learn their trade in the bush leagues instead of at State U. They would not have to pretend to be legitimate students, and State U. could admit one marginal student who does not play basketball for each non-student athlete who does not matriculate there. Then if a young man wants to attend college between basketball seasons, he will have to make the grade on his own. The athletic department will not be there to convince professors to give him passing grades he does not deserve.
If this were to happen in football and basketball, colleges might de-emphasize both sports to the extent that the colleges become more institutions of higher learning and less sports franchises.
RAYMOND S. THOMPSON
South Bound Brook, N.J.
Frank Deford's article concerning Pete Dawkins (All-America, All the Way, Feb. 21) is in my opinion a truly great article. The attention given to the nonathletic aspects of Major Dawkins' life is much needed during a day and age when some find it difficult to justify the rising cost of athletics in light of unsportsmanlike trends.
However, I must disagree with one analysis of Major Dawkins. Mr. Deford states that surely Dawkins would have reached his estate, that of "the most highly regarded young officer in the Army," had he never played a down of football. I contend that it was the same intangible motivation that caused Pete Dawkins not only to play football but to excel that provides him with the ability to be one of the Army's best. I believe that the inner drive that caused Major Dawkins to become an All-America is the same motivation that causes him to be an All-America in life.
Frank Deford and especially Major Pete Dawkins are to be commended for their work in setting an example for emulation by others.
JOSEPH L. LUVARA
In your article concerning Peter Dawkins, I'm afraid Pete comes off a lot better than Frank Deford. Being a recent ex-serviceman myself, I found Major Dawkins' comments on the past few years to be excellently expressed. I'm afraid that I can't say the same for Mr. Deford. The only fault I can find with what is otherwise an excellent article is Mr. Deford's constant overgeneralization concerning a) the late 1950s, b) military brass hats, c) the public "mind" concerning the military Establishment and d) the whole syndrome of the athletic hero. I think the author would have done well to study Major Dawkins' comments as well as quote them. It could be said of Deford that he is one of those who does not want to believe that his stereotype is wrong.
Many people in the state of Michigan were proud of all Peter Dawkins accomplished when he attended West Point. It is wonderful to see that he has continued to grow both as a military man and as a person.
I am a captain in the U.S. Army. I entered and graduated from West Point in the 1960s. To say, "The U.S. Military Academy is largely inhabited by young men who have not been moved by events of the 1960s" is to further distort the military stereotype of which Major Dawkins spoke.
Your sports coverage and analysis are highly accurate and literate. You would be well advised to confine your comments to the arena of sport, where your expertise is considerable, rather than dabbling in an analysis of the military in the '60s, where you display a marked ignorance.
MICHAEL P. PETERS
Fort Benning, Ga.
Frank Deford, in his article on Pete Dawkins, quotes Major Josiah Bunting, Dawkins' "close friend who is a novelist and a history professor at West Point." May I point out that Si Bunting, First Captain of the Corps at the Virginia Military Institute, captain of the swimming team, first-ranking English major and Rhodes scholar, is hardly less than Dawkins an exemplar of the "Joe Renaissance" tradition.
WILLARD M. HAYS
Associate Professor of History
Virginia Military Institute
Bravo for your tasteful article on the England-Ireland rugby game (A Rare Wearin' of the Green, Feb. 21). It was indeed written in the spirit of the competition it describes and is a testimony to the harmony rugby creates every time the game is played.
Congratulations must certainly go to the author, Dan Levin, who showed particular expertise in going to the heart of the matter in search of quotable items. In a fitting testimony to sport in general and rugby in particular, one speaker was quoted as saying, "Today's game is a great indication of what sport has to offer the world, that our friendship can break any barriers. Any fellow who goes through life without experiencing the comradeship that sport can offer is a poor man indeed." To a rugby man the truth of that statement is self-evident. But to any man, whether sportsman or bystander, the final quote is universal in its meaning. It is indeed "too bad politics can't be played the same way."
ANTHONY W. SCOTT
CORE OF THE GAME
During high school and college I played and coached a great deal of basketball and developed what I thought was a full understanding of and a deep love for the game. But Walter Iooss Jr.'s poignant pictures (The Dawn of the Possible Dream, Feb. 21) and the simple supporting words so crystallized the very core of the game that I became suddenly aware of how much more basketball had given me than I had ever appreciated.
HERBERT B. SHANNON
Your Feb. 7 article on Jerry West was great; identification was the key word there. But your article and pictures on schoolyard basketball are stupendous. Beauty is the key word here. Thanks for giving every kid in America another chance to hit that buzzer shot.
Scotch Plains, N.J.
I became completely uncomposed as I turned the pages of my Feb. 21 issue and beheld an article about none other than a Matchless 500 (Me and My Bike). The cult and mystique of the Big Single penetrates right down to the essence of motorcycling.
The world is full of people who have sold or abandoned the 500 single of their lives. I, for one, have not. My big black Matchless G80 (the road model of the bike portrayed in the article) waits for me now, patiently on its side stand in my brother's barn, for the warm day soon when its monosyllabic heartbeat shall be ignited once again to thump and wind our way down the country road of romanticism and tradition.
I thank Thomas McGuane for writing this fine piece, and I thank SI for including it in the magazine. The mystique of the Big Single is a priceless chapter in the annals of motorcycling and of life.
Address editorial mail to TIME & LIFE Bldg., Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.