NOT SUPER ENOUGH?
Tex Maule's rendition of Super Bowl VIII (It Was the Day of the Dolphins, Jan. 21) as another boring affair with those automatons in aqua called the Miami Dolphins at center stage reflects meaningfully on the pro game today. This latest and least entertaining of a series of generally tedious Super Sundays should give Pete Rozelle and the magnates of pro football good cause for reassessing the current condition of their overexposed and overanalyzed sport (or is business a better word?).
The Dolphins are an excellent team. But unfortunately they also epitomize the extreme conservatism and predictability that are killing NFL football as a spectator sport. Super Bowl VIII was not played, it was executed, and unless reforms occur soon the NFL will be executed by its own hand.
DAVID R. MURPHY
Congratulations to Tex Maule on his relatively unbiased report on this year's Super Bore, uh, Bowl. Miami is one awesome, incredible machine. As a Viking devotee, I could only hope that Minnesota would reverse its 1970 form in this so-called classic and that Miami would conduct itself on the field as 40 human beings rather than as a squad of robots. So much for a dream.
Now that Super Bowl VIII is over and the Dolphins have won two in a row, people are starting to compare them with the old Green Bay Packers. To determine which team should be called the best why not play a game by computer, as they did an AH vs. Marciano fight?
February 3, 1974
Your article on football predicting (Doing It by the Numbers, Jan. 14) was excellent, but it also proved that not even the biggest or smartest computer in the world could predict the outcome of a game being played by two great football teams in pressure competition. As I figure it, Bud Goode's computer was off by eight.
Rolling Meadows, Ill.
Joe Jares' story The Boo-Boo in Bogotà (Jan. 21) about the defeat of the U.S. Davis Cup team by Colombia was simply a report on a case of the better team winning. Whether the Dennis Ralston-coached trio of Charlie Pasarell, Harold Solomon and Erik van Dillen and, yes, even Ralston himself, took the South Americans lightly or not, the result was a clear-cut verdict.
This was the most lackluster squad to represent the U.S. in cup play for many years. It is a shame that Stan Smith, Arthur Ashe and Jimmy Connors were not available. It behooves the powers that be to take immediate steps to assure the inclusion of Smith, Ashe and Connors on the 1975 squad. After all, the Australians have their best men going for them with Rod Laver, John Newcombe, Ken Rosewall, et al., and they are a tough bunch to beat.
WILLIAM F. O'BRIEN
That was a great bit of strategy, sending a third-string team to play the Davis Cup in Colombia. Well, now we can save our aces until 1975.
JOHN E. HERZOG
BOBBY VS. BORIS
Congratulations to William Lombardy and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for the fine article on Bobby Fischer (A Mystery Wrapped in an Enigma, Jan. 21). Fischer deserves attention for his fantastic series against Boris Spassky. Being able to come from down two to win it all is the mark of a true pro. The article brought out the extraordinary events that surrounded that match. In my opinion, it gave the reader a fantastic look inside the sport of chess, American style.
My only reaction to the article about Bobby Fischer was that, somewhere along the line, he should have been soundly spanked. His conduct made me ashamed to be an American.
ANDREW A. JASINA JR.
Sterling Heights, Mich.
In reference to Dan Jenkins' article Hounded by His Heirs (Jan. 14), I must say that it is going to take a lot of doing for anyone to match the accomplishments of Jack Nicklaus. Mr. Jenkins refers to Lanny Wadkins, Ben Crenshaw, Johnny Miller and Tom Weiskopf as Nicklaus' heirs. I find that hard to swallow, because none of these men are as accomplished as Nicklaus was when he was their age. Nicklaus dominated the amateur ranks and then shocked the world of professional golf by beating the magnificent Arnold Palmer in the memorable U.S. open at Oakmont. Following that achievement he has gone on to win 13 more major championships.
Granted, Crenshaw and Wadkins are young, but Miller is no rookie and certainly Weiskopf, at 31, has been around. Jack Nicklaus is only 34, and he has a long, long way to go.
GOLF AT PAU
Whitney Tower's article on steeplechasing at Pau (Joyeux Joint for Jumping Jacques, Jan. 14) is certainly interesting, but it seems strange that he failed to mention that Pau has the oldest golf course on the Continent. The following is from A History of Golf by Robert Browning, the distinguished British golf authority:
"The story of golf on the Continent of Europe begins in romantic fashion with the Peninsular War. It is said that after Wellington's victory at Orthez in 1814, two officers of Scottish regiments who were billeted at Pau...played a rough and ready game or two on the plain of Billere. They were so taken with the attractions of Pau that twenty years later they both returned on holiday to Pau and again brought their clubs for a round or two of golf. It was not until 1856, however, that the Pau Golf Club came into being with a nine-hole course and a clubhouse in a room in a wayside inn. The names of three officers of field rank figure along with that of the Duke of Hamilton in the list of five founders...."
JOHN W. CASEY
I read with interest and enthusiasm your article on Steve Williams (A Late Start, an Early Finish, Jan. 21). When Steve was a youngster of 15 just becoming interested in track, it was noted by his coach that his unusually long stride practically caused him to fall off the highly banked gymnasium track. As a result, he did most of his practicing in the school's hallways.
Because he was so lanky and thin, he was not used in the 100-yard dash until his last meet as a senior, and it was at that meet that his unusual speed at the 70-yard mark was noticed.
Steve Williams was and continues to be a wonderfully warm youngster, full of love and affection for his high school—and its track coach. I know all of this because I was his coach.
Health Education Department
Evander Childs High School Bronx, N.Y.
Congratulations to Peter Carry on his fine article on Julius Erving and the New York Nets (Big Julie Is Doing Nicely-Nicely, Jan. 14). I became a Net fan three years ago, and I am glad I did. They have the best starting five in the league. I am also happy to see Dr. J. displaying his fantastic skills for the Nets instead of against them, as he did when he was with Virginia. As long as Julie keeps doing nicely-nicely, the Nets will have nothing to worry about.
You built me up just to let me down. After gazing at your splendid cover photograph of the incredible Dr. J., I expected more of the same inside. Alas, nothing. Since Julius Erving is the most exciting basketball player in the world, we are entitled to more action-packed pictures of him.
EDWARD P. MNOIAN
It figures. Dr. J. moves from Virginia to New York and you all write a cover story about him.
PAUL R. SCOTT
SAME OLD GAMES?
I just finished reading your article on Stewart Brand (Search for Brand New Earth Games, Jan. 7). His tug-of-war with a twist, top dog and hunker hawser are identical to "games" I played in Marine boot camp in 1956. Also, aikido appears to be a variation of the training we received as part of our initiation into hand-to-hand combat.
I noted with interest that Mr. Brand is 34, my age. Is it possible that armed service training of some years ago is now being sold to a new generation that does not face compulsory military service? I note the same phenomenon in the apparent willingness of persons not many years younger than I to pay for activities such as "survival schools." Perhaps we Marines had a good deal and just didn't know it.
I was very pleased to find an article about the visiting U.S.S.R. hockey team (Feasting on the Unfortunates, Jan. 14), but there must be some mistake. How is it possible that the Seattle Totems' stunning 8-4 upset of the Russians received only a passing mention?
It is not my intention to make the Russians seem anything less than the powerful hockey team that they are; I saw their series against Team Canada, and their performance here last year when they defeated the Totems 9-4. But despite any excuses you may make for them-"weary and overconfident" or whatever—they played well and were cleanly beaten by a convincing four-point margin in the finest hockey game I've seen in years. On that night the Totems would have beaten anyone. They would not let the Russians establish the awesome passing attack that defeated every other team they faced. At the same time the Totems" offense kept constant pressure on and put eight goals past one of the world's best goalies, Vladislav Tretiak. Don Westbrooke scored a hat trick and Goalies Bruce Bullock and Dan Brady, who each played 30 minutes, were brilliant. If you require further proof, consider the Totems' 6-4 Christmas night victory over Czechoslovakia's Dukla Jihlava, the only team to play well consistently against the Russians.
I am sure that if the Totems and Russians played a series of games, the Russians would dominate, but the fact remains that on Jan. 5 the Seattle Totems were victorious and deserve more than the mention that Mark Mulvoy gave them.
DEREK VS. BEP
I feel compelled to write you about your article on Derek Sanderson (The Vitas Still Dolce, But..., Jan. 7), having just finished watching the Jan. 4 Boston-New York televised game. As you will recall, the Turk got a goal and two assists in this game. I saw no fault in his play. He played tough, hard hockey. Since all of his better plays came in the second and third periods, it leads one to conclude he is not as out of condition as Coach Bep Guidolin would have us believe. I consider Guidolin's remarks about Sanderson unfair. He said, "Derek wants to play hockey again, they say. I haven't seen it. I haven't seen anything on the ice." What he saw in this game was Sanderson scoring, checking, penalty killing and hustling down to the last minute.
I will agree that Sanderson is flaky. He is outrageous, unconventional and arrogant. He is also a fine forechecker and penalty killer, and he can win a faceoff from anybody. I happen to consider him good for hockey. He is an individual in a league of stereotyped team players. The publicity he has brought the NHL (and the WHA, for that matter) is immeasurable. Still, your article was very educational. I never knew about the obstacles Derek had to overcome.
Anyone who would jump to the WHA, quit, then sign again with his former club in the NH L, and who, as Bruin Coach Bep Guidolin says, "never played any harder than he had to," can't be much. When Sanderson says, "There's only about 20 guys [in the WHA] who could play in the NHL," you can bet he was not one of those 20. I had no idea Boston was so desperate for a hockey player.
MARK G. MILLER
Having lived in Cleveland and having watched minor league hockey, I should know what ii looks like, The WHA is not minor league. There are some surprisingly strong teams. In fact, the stronger WHA teams could beat the lesser NHL teams.
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Pat Jordan's story on Derek Sanderson and Bepo Guidolin was interesting, but I take issue with the comment that Derek is only one of the three best centers in the NHL. Next to Orr, Derek is the best all-round player in hockey.
I do not condone his punkish attitude or his life-style, but he is the ultimate center, a superb checker, penalty killer par excellence, and with some capable wingers he would be more than a 25-goal scorer.
WALLACE A. MACLENNAN
Sterling Junction, Mass.
I find it necessary to voice my dissatisfaction with the comments of Leonard L. Cope-land (Jan. 14). Although l agree with some of his facts—essentially that the black man has registered greater achievements in modern boxing than the white man—this is partly due to the fact that a number of athletic whites overlook boxing to compete in other sports, just as blacks overlook swimming and hockey. This is not to say that the results would have been different over the past 35 years; it is just food for thought.
Comments such as "any good black man can beat any good white man" are racist, and if printed in the reverse, they would touch off much controversy. I do not think there is room in SI for racism—black or while.
EDWARD J. KELLY
Some of Mr. Copeland's statements are too ridiculous even to merit refutation by the facts, such as the example of what Jack Dempsey did to Jess Willard, or what Rocky Marciano did to 49 straight opponents of both races. Nonetheless, when you cut through the prejudice, Mr. Copeland's basic facts are correct—there have been more black champs. The reason? There have been more black fighters.
Boxing has always been a poor man's sport in America, a tool for young men to fight their way out of the ghetto. Because of the racial composition of American slums, most of these off-the-street fighters are black. If most of the fighters are black, it stands to reason that most of the champions will be, too. And there is the matter of incentives. For these fighters it is either win or go back to the ghetto. One tends to fight harder when one is fighting to eat.
So though Mr. Copeland's facts are correct, his interpretation of those facts and his entire way of thinking need a lot of adjustment. Perhaps he would find it easier to understand if he stopped looking at these men as "blackie" and "whitey" and started appreciating them for what they all are—champions.
MICHAEL L. GAYNES
Highland Park, Ill.
Address editorial mail to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, TIME & LIFE Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.