MR. BUCKLEY'S VIEW
I will never, repeat never, open another issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. What qualifies William F. Buckley Jr. (Strange Bedfellows, Sept. 25) to write an article in a sports magazine? This simpering champion of the upper dog may have a place for his deathless prose, but it certainly "ain't" in a sports magazine. Is there no hiding place?
Long Island City, N.Y.
Mr. Buckley is clever. However, I cannot appreciate being force-fed his political self-delusions during my weekly hour of sporting reclusion.
Bill Buckley's gingery analysis uses sport for nothing more than an excuse to poke a few jabs at the same liberal concepts he's been bobbing around for years. What are the differences between U.S. "demiamateurism" and Soviet "professionalism" that could account for the basketball loss at the Olympics? "Single-mindedness" and "bilateral" exchange of culture, Bill tells us. Was Ed Ratleff any less "single-minded" than Aleksander Belov about winning for his team?
Buckley runs his political and historical references from A to Z in a dazzling display of verbal gymnastics. The final serving is a cup of Siberian gruel and Bill Buckley's inscrutable smile.
South Wellfleet, Mass.
October 8, 1972
For all the wit and accuracy of William Buckley's comments upon the state of international sports, his tiresome attempts at political allegory proved quite lame. Actually, the only thing he proved is that, for William Buckley, international politics is a game roughly equivalent to hockey or basketball, i.e., it is to be played to win and, if you are a man, you will give it everything you've got. Which is all fine and good. Except that with the nuclear puck, I don't want to be around when the sticks start swinging, and none of us will be around when they are through.
One would like to think that international sports are precisely the forum for such necessary and even valuable national energies to be played out. But surely the skates, the pucks and the sticks should be left outside of the arena when the object of the game involves human lives. Didn't the misplaced machismo of the Arab terrorists at Munich teach us at least that very lesson?
Santa Monica, Calif.
William Buckley has hit us again with his best punch—not his vocabulary, but his impeccably logical mind—and, man, did we need it. With his simple but analytical redefinitions of such terms as "sport," "victory" and "superiority," Buckley has tendered a spice of realism to an athletic world already heavily peppered with spurious glories. Too bad we can't accuse the International Olympic Committee of similar sanity. Perhaps then it could have avoided becoming—through its appointed officials of boxing, gymnastics, diving and basketball—the second largest terrorist organization represented at Munich, one which compared ideologies rather than athletes.
The best course for the future is obvious. We have to restore career specialization to its natural order, putting Buckley in charge of the Olympics and giving those faceless components of the IOC a shot at real politics. We would then have a Utopia of athletic objectivity and political poetic justice.
But, no, I guess not. Imagine the International Olympic Committeemen as Supreme Court members, each voting according to how he thought the others were going to vote. Or imagine Avery Brundage in any position of political power at all.
Even if such difficulties were avoidable, people would never trust the arrangement. The Buckley-run Games would come too close to following the intent of athletic ethics, rather than the letter, and there is a dismal dearth of men with enough of Buckley's sanity to tolerate such a circumstance.
North Syracuse, N.Y.
COACH IBA'S DEFENSE
A word in behalf of Hank Iba ("Jab at Iba," SCORECARD, Sept. 25). Lefty Driesell knows that college teams in the Top 10 do not go to the Olympics—a group of individual players go. And until we do send a whole team to the Games, strong defense with the emphasis on teamwork, as Hank Iba has stressed for decades, is the way to win in international basketball—if the judging is fair. If Driesell's teams played defense as well as Iba's, he'd understand its value.
Team Canada lost at home to the Russians in hockey because its great individuals played like individuals and not as a team. Hank Iba's Olympic team and his Oklahoma State teams before that succeeded despite their lack of big name stars because they were a team.
When Lefty Driesell wins 700 basketball games and molds dissimilar 20-year-olds into a cohesive unit as Iba did, he will sound a lot more credible.
Lefty Driesell's comment, "We don't play that slowdown game anymore; our game is fast break," may be true of every collegiate coach in America except one—Lefty Driesell. A good example of Lefty's slowdown tactics was the Maryland-South Carolina game of the 1970-71 collegiate season. While South Carolina was playing the running game that Lefty describes, the Maryland team was following Coach Driesell's orders to freeze the ball until it found a sure open shot. These tactics resulted in a high-scoring 31-30 Maryland win, after which Coach Driesell said something like "You win them any way that you can."
When you compare the coaching records of Henry Iba and Lefty Driesell, it is apparent that Driesell could not even hold Iba's whistle. So who is he to criticize one of the best coaches in collegiate history?
South Ozone Park, N.Y.
MR. BREWER'S ACHIEVEMENTS
I read with great interest your editorial comments (SCORECARD, Sept. 11) on Howard Cosell's interviews of Olympic personages. My views are identical with yours. To my surprise, however, I found equally bad taste displayed in Barry McDermott's treatment of Gay Brewer (You Know Jack, Lee, Gary and, ah, er..., Sept. 18). Mr. Brewer finished respectably close to the field, one stroke behind two of the three superstars he was pitted against in the World Series of Golf. Mr. McDermott's article should logically have reported on Gary Player's skill and cool in staying ahead of Nicklaus and Trevino. Instead, he devoted the entire article to a series of snide remarks on Brewer's past golf performances, personal habits and popularity.
CLEMENT J. BLUM
My compliments to Edwin Shrake for his excellent story on Tom Landry (Why Is This Man Laughing? Sept. 18), the best and smartest coach in the NFC.
North Haledon, N.J.
I would like to extend thanks to Edwin Shrake and SI for the tremendous article on Tom Landry. In a time when we seem to hear only about the Duane Thomases or Dave Meggyesys, it is indeed refreshing to read about a man like Landry.
Even though I am a longtime Washington Redskin fan, I have the deepest respect for Coach Landry. Here is a man who has survived the roughest storms and come through like the champion he is.
Not even Brother Landry can make the New Testament into an argument for salvation by good works or, in his words, "paying the price." And while the Apostle Paul might have made a good halfback, he certainly would never have fallen for such a simple-minded theological formula as the equating of salvation with winning.
Winning, in football games or in other endeavors, may be necessary to "free enterprise, capitalism and our way of life," but it certainly has nothing to do with being a man of faith in the New Testament sense. Landry's idea, though not original, is a very neat and tidy one. There is no guesswork about it. If you pay the price, you will be a winner, and God loves winners. If you're not winning and/or don't feel particularly loved, then, good buddy, you just ain't payin' the price.
Since at least as long ago as the beginnings of the Old Testament, people at the top of the heap have been assuming they are there because God loves them and the way they do things. But if there is one single idea that both the Old and New Testaments—and especially the Apostle Paul—flatly deny, it is that pretty little piece of spiritual self-indulgence.
THE REV. RICHARD E. JOHNSON
Tom Landry's socio-religious pontification on football, capitalism, the American way of life, religion and the singular importance of winning would ordinarily provide great humor if not for the fact that too many people identify with his view. His computer-aided mind would seem to place highest priority on efficiency and performance, with little regard for those who get cut from the team. All that matters is that there are enough people to fill certain positions to make the machine run. After all, for those who can't make it there is always another team (i.e., they can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps).
On the other hand, perhaps Tom Landry is rather perceptive after all; the organization of this country is not too much different from that of a football team. But some players are contemplating a walkout.
DANIEL W. BROMLEY
I am glad to see recognition come to Mike Marshall (He Turns 'Em Inside Out, Sept. 18). Before Marshall enjoyed the success his screwball has brought about, baseball treated him harshly. As Jim Bouton revealed in Ball Four, Marshall's teammates laughed at the egghead's unconventional ways.
If Marshall had remained a marginal pitcher, he would no doubt be out of the game today, while a marginally skilled clubhouse comedian, one compatible with baseball's smaller minds, would conceivably remain in the game as a coach or scout. Hopefully, baseball's mistreatment of one of its most intelligent relief pitchers will not discourage Marshall from remaining a part of the sport, someday perhaps to save it.
As a devotee of your magazine for many years and being accustomed to its excellence, I eagerly opened your Sept. 11 issue to read your customary one-or two-page treatment of the National Amateur golf tournament. I was shocked and dismayed to find this great event covered by a six-line insertion in FOR THE RECORD.
In giving short shrift to the championship itself, you also failed to bring attention to a truly remarkable success story—the winning of the Amateur by Vinny Giles. Consider the record of this six-time Virginia Amateur champion in his previous five appearances in the U.S. Amateur: he was second by a shot at Broadmoor in 1967, second again by a shot at Scioto in 1968, second by five shots at Oakmont in 1969, sixth in Portland in 1970 and third last year at Wilmington. His consistency and perseverance finally paid off this year in Charlotte, where he left the field behind to win by three strokes. Vinny also has represented the U.S. well in two Walker Cup and two World Amateur Team championships.
Although I realize that you were occupied with Olympic coverage and compiling the College Football Issue, I feel you did all amateur golfers a disservice by your inadequate coverage of this event.
STEPHEN H. WATTS
Charleston, W. Va.
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