Rx FOR TROUBLE
Hooray for men like Tom Meschery ('There is A Disease in Sports Now...Oct. 2)! No one can dispute his qualifications in describing professional sports as being diseased. He's been there.
This is an article from the Oct. 16, 1972 issue
As Mr. Meschery points out, the fan encourages the plague by paying the outrageous price. Last year I received four Laker tickets ($6.25 each) as a gift. Parking ($1.65), soft drinks and popcorn brought the tab to $30. My three boys asked about attending another game. My answer was to the effect that unless I received a gift again there was no way we could attend. Enough of the ridiculous salary demands. The fan pays for them. Tom Meschery has my vote as professional of the year.
Unfortunately, the same brutal honesty Tom Meschery uses to establish a devastating case against pro and college basketball's capitalistic barons also costs him his most important audience.
The players and owners are aware of the disease, so he obviously wasn't aiming his attack at them. The real target, I would think, are the parents of aspiring athletes. When he offhandedly admits that 1) "much of my thinking is socialistic" and 2) "if the players took pills, I never saw them do it and I wouldn't have tried to stop them if I had," no parent is going to understand why he shouldn't have stopped his players from breaking rules and laws. I agree with his arguments, but I fear he has alienated his audience with irrelevancies.
JERRY B. JENKINS
Carol Stream, Ill.
Thank you for the excellent article on Trinity University's Warren Woodson (When It Comes to Winning, He's the Most, Oct. 2). It's a fine tribute to an outstanding coach.
I feel compelled to correct one misstatement in the article, however. To my knowledge, no San Antonio businessman ever "volunteered to dig up money for grants" if our board of trustees would reverse its decision to place athletic scholarships on the basis of financial need. I did not receive even one such offer. The board decision, incidentally, was supported by both the university faculty and the student council.
E.M. Stevens provided funds for our new stadium so that the university could save the cost of renting the much larger Alamo Stadium near our campus as well as gain income from the concessions. Thus, the net cost of our program was further reduced.
Finally, as noted in the article, Trinity University indeed "is better known for tennis." In fact, Trinity is the current NCAA national champion and included four All-Americas on its team this year.
President, Trinity University
•SI Correspondent Johnny Janes, columnist for the San Antonio Light, insists the statement about businessmen was correct.—ED.
Your account of the Nebraska-Army game (FOOTBALL'S WEEK, Oct. 2) was ludicrous. Bob Devaney was so "eager" to run up a score that he wouldn't allow the reserves to throw a single pass in the fourth quarter. Devaney has never run up a score in his life, and everybody knows it.
Nebraska City, Neb.
Nebraska 77, Army 7. Don't be surprised if this year's graduates from Nebraska's ROTC program are the first officers to be commissioned as third lieutenants.
R. W. LAMSON
RUSSIA VS. CANADA (CONT.)
This week I am happy to correct SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for its premature condolences to Canada (O Canada! There Goes Another, Sept. 25). You know by now that all Canadians are celebrating the win of Team Canada against the Russians, a brilliant team of professionals who trained long and hard before meeting the Canadians. Team Canada, composed of all-star players who had scarcely been introduced to one another before the series, had to learn to play as a team during an international tournament.
MARGARET E. SEXTON
Sydney, Nova Scotia
Those of us who dedicate part of our existence to hunting have to be grateful to José Ortega y Gasset for his Meditations on Hunting (Sept. 25). There is the poetry of truth in the statement "One does not hunt in order to kill; on the contrary, one kills in order to have hunted."
In America today, however, too often one goes hunting in order to shoot, and the model for today's Paleolithic man seems to be the cowboy of the Wild West.
Still, it is a beautiful meditation—with one major flaw. If a man takes up his gun and goes to the mountain for the pleasure of being Paleolithic, he must complete the ritual. He must eat what he kills. Without that justification, every bit of Ortega y Gasset's argument could as easily be used to defend that other sport of aristocratic privilege, the killing of man.
Los Gatos, Calif.
As a sports enthusiast and fascinated student of human nature, I enjoyed the essay on man's changing role as hunter by José Ortega y Gasset. However, as a professional translator seeing a job well done, I cannot help but feel that one of our profession has been shortchanged. It is not easy to be creative or imaginative within strictly defined limits, but that is a translator's goal, and one who succeeds should be duly recognized.
LYNNE M. UPHAM
•The essay was translated by Howard B. Westcott, an assistant professor of Hispanic studies at Smith College.—ED.
IMPROVING THE GAME
The NFL probably will do nothing regarding Tex Maule's suggestions to make pro football a better game for fans (Time to Take Stock, Sept. 18). All right, let's leave it up to the season-ticket holders. All the owners have to do is send us a questionnaire, along with their season-ticket bill. Let us give our opinions on such questions as a sudden-death overtime on all tie games, the two point conversion, 25 seconds instead of 30 seconds to put the ball in play and stopping the clock on passes completed as well as incompleted.
The season-ticket holder should have some say in the betterment of the game. We are the ones who are keeping it alive.
El Cerrito, Calif.
It's not only time to take stock, it's time to invest in it. Tex Maule's points have been on paper too long. Please, no more tic games in football! And 50-yard field goals should be worth more than 10-yard field goals. Let's take Mr. Maule's advice. I'm tired of kissing my sister!
If Tex Maule feels that pro football may be suffering from a lack of offensive thrills, may I suggest that the NFL take a tip from the college game: stop the clock after first downs. Checking my local paper after the first full weekend of college and pro football, I found that in the 18 college and 12 pro games listed, the colleges averaged 26% more offensive plays (141 to 112) than their professional counterparts, including 54% more rushes (100 to 65).
The pros generally have the more exciting players, but the colleges have the better game. A good deal of this must be attributed to the first-down rule, which gives colleges more of a chance to show their talent. The NFL would be wise to adopt it.
R. KEITH LAWLER
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
AT THE TOP
Curry Kirkpatrick's article on the U.S. Open Tennis Championships (Nasty Heads the Boom at the Top, Sept. 18) is an insult to Ilie Nastase. Apparently because Mr. Nastase is not Australian or Stan Smith, he does not deserve to be called the No. 1 male player in tennis. However, in my opinion, Mr. Nastase's victory over the best field in tennis this year gives him ample claim to that distinction. A look at his record confirms this fact:
Late last year Nastase won the Embassy Indoors in Wembley, England over a field containing the best independent and WCT players. In that tournament, he defeated Rod Laver in the finals. Soon afterward, he won the Pepsi Masters Grand Prix in Paris with a 6-0 record. Here he defeated Stan Smith in the final match. At Wimbledon he lost to Smith in the closest final in years. And at Forest Hills he won the premier title of the 1972 season.
If Mr. Nastase defeats Stan Smith in the Davis Cup final in Bucharest this week, perhaps Mr. Kirkpatrick will then wake up to the fact that this gifted Rumanian athlete is indeed the Mr. Tennis he has been searching for.
The belittling way in which Curry Kirkpatrick wrote about the women at Forest Hills, especially Ms. Billie Jean King, is an affront to all women who are striving for equal rights.
If the women's pro tour ever needs someone to picket a tournament that does not offer the women substantial prize money, I will be happy to volunteer.
Although there are a couple of months remaining in 1972, the choice for SI's Sportsman of the Year has to be Mark Spitz. Never before has one man set the sports world on fire as has Spitz. In seven attempts in the Olympics he won seven gold medals and set seven world records. Since the beginning of the modern Olympics in 1896, no one has produced this kind of record. As an amateur, Spitz has also shown that there are other incentives in sports besides money. This is the meaning of sportsmanship.
I nominate Bobby Fischer for Sportsman of the Year. If Eddy Merckx' achievement is comparable to Henry Aaron batting .442, Fischer's string of victories that qualified him to play Spassky was more like Aaron batting .800. Let the United States finally, after so many years, give this incomparable chess genius just a touch of the recognition he deserves, and has deserved for years. We may not understand him, but let us at least applaud his total mastery of his sport.
As a follower of professional sports and one who always likes to see the best man win, I nominate Tom Landry, coach of the Dallas Cowboys, for Sportsman of the Year. I don't have to give any statistics on Mr. Landry, since he has shown to all true sports fans what he has done.
DAVID M. LENT
Softball king Eddie Feigner is a true athlete. No major-leaguer would put up with the conditions and schedule that Feigner does. If I had a vote for Sportsman of the Year, Eddie Feigner would receive it.
Regarding Sportsman of the Year, there is only one choice: Steve Carlton. The greatest left-handed pitcher ever, Carlton is a man who does not know the meaning of losing, even though he plays for one of the worst teams in the major leagues.
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