KING OF THE SPORT
It makes horse sense that the feat (or feet) of Secretariat should earn him a nomination for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S Sportsman of the Year award. If it were up to me, there would be no neighs about it. And he certainly would know how to take it in stride.
Man o' War is dead. Long live Secretariat!
I am sure I am only one of many who will be fed up with the sport of kings after Secretariat is retired. Racetracks ask why their attendance continues to decline, but they must know the two reasons: 1) competing champions are given weights that cause them to lose to less-capable horses and 2) other potential champions are retired to stud before their prime.
In reality, horse racing is not the sport of kings—it isn't even a sport. It is a business venture for an elite group of Americans. Let's hear it for, say, football. Did the owners ever make John Unitas wear weights on his arm or force George Blanda into retirement?
Huntington Beach, Calif.
June 24, 1973
As an avid lacrosse follower I appreciate your excellent coverage of the Maryland-Johns Hopkins NCAA championship game (Not Quite a Terrapin Stew, June 11). Your objectivity and thorough knowledge of the players and their abilities, coupled with outstanding color photographs, make the article the biggest boon to "the fastest game on two feet" since the NCAA initiated a playoff system three years ago.
NELSON E. COFFIN
College Park, Md.
The article and pictures devoted to the NCAA lacrosse finals were very much appreciated. However, we feel that two important aspects of the game were neglected.
The first was the brilliant man-down defense executed by Johns Hopkins. Although we are unfamiliar with the exact statistics, Hopkins' shorthanded defense thwarted Maryland's advantage at least 10 times, and we believe that this enabled Hopkins to keep the game close. At one stage a Hopkins defender stole the ball on two successive man-down situations and cleared it to the attack via lengthy passes.
Second, much publicity has been given to Maryland's unbeatable face-off men. On that given Saturday, however, Hopkins did all right in that aspect of the game. It was evident Maryland was the better team, yet we feel due respect should be paid to Hopkins' man-down crew and face-off men.
West Hartford, Conn.
It was a beautiful article on lacrosse, with exceptional photography.
But Cortland State won the College Division title with victories over Adelphi, Massachusetts, Hobart and Washington College. Shouldn't that have rated a line or two in your FOR THE RECORD section? Cortland was an NCAA University Division semifinalist in 1972, losing to the University of Virginia, and has had national ranking for the last several years.
E. J. LALLEY
As president of the company that designed and distributed those "Japanese-made ripple-soled shoes," I am appreciative of George Allen's recommendation and flattered by mention in your magazine. I do, however, feel it should be pointed out that the models on which "the soles fell off" were designed strictly for long-distance road training and not for lacrosse. We pride ourselves in designing shoes for specific purposes, and assure you that our soles do not fall off when the shoes are used for that purpose.
I would guess Allen's recommendation was for an experimental AstroTurf shoe that some of his players tested for us last fall and which is not available on the market. I think it is an interesting observation on modern communications that Maryland went from Allen's recommendation for AstroTurf shoes through our distance training shoes to our basketball shoes to win the national lacrosse championship. At any rate, I'm glad they won. And they are good shoes.
PHILIP H. KNIGHT
SAFE OR SORRY
I was pleased to read Robert F. Jones' honest and to-the-point account of the Indy 500 (Indy's Somber Trial by Fire and Rain, June 11). I have one question concerning the facts presented: On the day of the first big crash why did the official okay the start with such a ragged formation? It seems to me that particular crash might have been avoided if one more pace lap had been run to keep everyone in his proper row.
I hope someday the people concerned will realize what Memorial Day is really for. Otherwise, two Memorial Days will be needed, one for Indy 500 drivers.
Gordon Johncock did not win the 1973 Indianapolis 500 so much as he survived it. Indeed, one wonders if the race had not been rained out whether anyone would have finished it. Only a third of the entries were still running with more than a third of the race yet to run.
Competition is the essence of sport. But the maiming of drivers and numerous mechanical failures have dulled the competition at Indy. The lust for speed has been at the expense of safety, and competition has suffered. I would suggest these changes for next year's race: Start the race with only two cars per row instead of the present three, prohibit lane changing in the first turn of the first lap, make roll cages surrounding and enclosing the driver mandatory on all cars and limit the fuel supply for each car to 300 gallons, thus slowing drivers to safer speeds on the track without hurting the competition during time trials. These changes should help save lives and keep more cars in the race.
Robert F. Jones' preview article on the Indianapolis qualifying (The Deadly Wrath of Old Man Indy, May 21) may have been romantically satisfying, but it was woefully inadequate in its service to the sport. To characterize the overt danger of the outdated Indy Speedway as a scene out of American mythology only serves to further steep "Old Man Indy" in false tradition and prestige, shielding it from any modernizing force.
NASCAR runs many of its events on modern super speedways, and in fact most of the other USAC stops are free of difficulties. They reroute the Monaco Grand Prix, perhaps the most prestigious of European road events, they cancel the Mille Miglia because of its many fatalities, but year after year we send good men into an incredibly dangerous situation without making the slightest change in Indy.
These drivers try to race at 200 mph around a course that has remained essentially unchanged since 1911! Why? Because of the money and prestige. How ironic it is that the most watched motor racing event in America is the worst example of the sport.
We play World Series games at night now, we have a world-champion football team in Miami, but nobody raises a finger to correct the carnage at Indy. After all, it wouldn't be the same old Indy 500—it might be safe.
New Britain, Conn.
I still thrill to a skillful pass out of a turn into the short stretch, to the capable use of drafting techniques, to the exacting precision of a 20-second pit stop and to the roar and rhythm of the Indianapolis 500. But I also fear. Near the 200-mph mark, how much of human skill is left behind and how much sheer luck rides with a driver? Is Indy the place to set land-speed records or is Bonneville? Is Indy the place to see how fast a racing distance can be completed or is an NHRA-sanctioned drag strip the place? I express a bias, a strong prejudice; as an avid auto racing fan I want to see an exhibition of consummate skill and safety, not the press of consuming speed destroying and maiming spectators, members of pit crews and racers like Art Pollard, Salt Walther and Swede Savage.
JOSEPH PSUIK III
Allow me to call to the attention of your readers an article in the March 5 issue entitled Going Racing Along a Dream Road by Jackie Stewart and Gwilym S. Brown in which Stewart notes, "The complete racecourse also is one that is as safe as can be."
How many deaths will it take before someone listens?
Kansas City, Mo.
We have generally come to have confidence in your reporting accuracy and fairness to all parties in a situation. Unfortunately, you have given a rather shallow and distorted report on the graphite shaft (A Power Hitler Goes on Trial, June 4). Please consider the following:
1) Shakespeare Company started work on graphite shafts more than five years ago, and Shakespeare's shafts were displayed at the PGA show in West Palm Beach in January 1972.
2) The shaft was designed as an outgrowth of Shakespeare's more than 20 years of experience in glass fiber applications. Graphite fibers, however, have many physical properties that are far superior to glass for certain applications. In order to utilize these properties, Shakespeare used computer simulations and other extensive sophisticated research techniques. As a result the Shakespeare shaft has a completely unique flexural pattern, high torsional rigidity and consistency of manufacturing quality that comes only from years of experience.
3) Shakespeare's shaft is used by many touring pros whom we don't mention for the simple reason that practically every touring professional is under contract to a golf club manufacturer and has a responsibility to use and endorse that company's products.
4) Shakespeare Company is the largest producer of graphite shafts in the world.
5) There is nothing magic about graphite shafts. Our shaft is considerably stiffer and lighter in weight than any known shaft of any material on the market. However, a golfer still has to swing the club. Because of its properties it offers the golfer a more consistent opportunity to perform better and enjoy the game to a greater extent.
B. J. LAVINS
Sports Products Group
I didn't have "to leaf through my old high school physics book" to be reminded that force is the product of weight (more properly, mass) and velocity—because it ain't. That's momentum. Force is the product of mass and acceleration. Force and momentum are different dimensionally.
But Gwilym Brown's article on the graphite shaft had a lot of force, because he had momentum going for him.
JULIAN B. GRAFA
La Jolla, Calif.
Pat Jordan's Big Sky, Big Dream (June 11) ranks—along with John Underwood's A Brief Search for America (May 4, 1970)—as one of the most extraordinarily sensitive and accurate pieces of reporting and writing ever to appear in your or any other magazine. Articles such as these are the epitome of journalism in its finest and highest form. Keep it up.
I thoroughly enjoyed Pat Jordan's article concerning a young pitcher on a Class D minor-league team. It showed that the road to the big leagues is clearly a long and ofttimes painful one.
As present groundskeepers of Cibola Stadium we thoroughly enjoyed your article on McCook. It is most timely, as this is the last year of Cibola's existence—a new four-ball park complex will be replacing it soon. Not many small-town ball fields can go out in such style.
For readers who cannot believe that an ordinary Plains windstorm can blow a pitcher off the mound I suggest they take another look at the white portion of the fence in left center shown in the picture. That is a new section, put up when a Nebraska wind blew the old one to second base.
By the way, we swear that we picked up a 14-year-old plug of tobacco in the left-field-corner bullpen the other day.
Bill Emmerton's trans-Grand Canyon trip (PEOPLE, June 4) was an admirable feat, but not the first nor the fastest. In his book GRAND CANYON TREKS (La Siesta Press, 1970), Harvey Butchart notes on page 25 that Allyn Cureton covered the entire 20.6 miles of the Kaibab frail from north rim to south rim in three hours and 56 minutes.
Emmerton's time of 4½ hours for 22 miles figures out to 4.89 mph; Cureton's time figures out to 5.24 mph. Of course, we don't know how long Emmerton stopped to help that hiker; however, 18 minutes less elapsed time would have put him even with Cureton. Give Cureton credit for the fastest sustained trip—and me credit for knowing where to find this rather arcane statistic.
JEREMY V. GLUCK
Ann Arbor, Mich.
Paul Deese's suggestion (SCORECARD, June 4) for a baseball platoon system is a natural extension of the designated hitter rule. What Deese did not point out, however, is that full offensive and defensive teams would permit a much-needed change in baseball format. Unlike football, where a team's offensive position depends upon its defensive effort (and vice versa), baseball's use of half-innings clearly separates a team's offense and defense. Thus with a platoon system it would be possible for the Yankee defense to host the Red Sox offense at Yankee Stadium while their opposites were playing at Fenway Park. This would double stadium usage, cut playing time in half and lead to a number of useful innovations in television coverage.
E. H. WINSTON
Port Washington, N.Y.
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