In regard to your article on the NCAA basketball championships (Nothing Could Be Finer, April 1), it was extremely kind of Curry Kirkpatrick to mention that the Marquette Warriors were present in Greensboro, N.C. We are very sorry that our team defeated Kansas in the "B class division," forcing 42 million people to suffer through a "sick joke" of a championship.
As for our expiring subscriptions to "Bill Walton Illustrated," big deal. See you next year in San Diego, Curry.
MICHAEL T. MEYERS
BARRY M. ORIENTE
I wish to congratulate Curry Kirkpatrick on his fine article on the NCAA tournament. He undoubtedly will be criticized for not devoting more space to the finals, but in fact the championship was decided the previous Saturday. I would also like to thank Bill Walton, David Thompson & Co. for an outstanding season and one of the best-played championship games ever.
WILLIAM H. WHITE
North Carolina State certainly is to be congratulated for defeating UCLA and Marquette en route to the NCAA title. However, I feel the Wolfpack's victory points out a vital flaw in the college game—the absence of a 30-second clock. N.C. State, the most talented and surely the most explosive team in the tournament, twice resorted to stalling tactics, which predictably caused it to blow leads.
April 14, 1974
From a spectator's point of view, the stall is enjoyable only when it is employed by one's own outclassed team at home. The 30-second clock is needed. When David Thompson el al. were forced to play UCLA, the excitement of college basketball was unleashed.
New York City
I object to the cavalier treatment Dan Levin gives the game of rugby in his article on the Monterey (Calif.) National Rugby Tournament (Bloody Go in Monterey, April 1). When played well, within proper legal limits and by skilled, experienced players, rugby is not the brutal, ragged, chaotic and disorganized mayhem Levin's description makes it out to be. Rather, it is a disciplined yet spontaneous exercise of strength, speed, agility and endurance, played under a tight and complex set of laws and an even tighter unwritten code of ethics.
To emphasize the brutal or chaotic aspects of rugby as it is played in the U.S. is to give your wide readership an entirely erroneous impression of what the sport, when played on a high standard, is all about; and this kind of unfavorable publicity, in turn, tends to hinder the development of the sport in America. Indeed, rugby as most Americans play it is not really rugby at all but rather some kind of game about halfway between rugby and football, and as such it would not be tolerated by a proficient non-American rugby referee conscientiously enforcing the laws of the game.
There is a vast educational effort under way in U.S. rugby circles, the thrust of which is to attempt to teach players and referees real rugby and to unteach them American football. Only when our best footballers have made a complete conversion can we hope to put together a side capable of a creditable performance against a national all-star team from a rugby-playing country. The task is difficult enough without Dan Levin providing an additional obstacle by tacitly legitimizing the insufferable crudeness of the American version of the game.
ROBERT S. SEGELBAUM
New York Rugby Football Club
New York City
You emphasized size and weight a lot. Agreed, size and weight have much to do with the game, but smaller people can also play rugby; some of the best rugby players are not human battering rams. Jeff Sevy's comment that rugby is "a great social sport" is quite true, and I hope that it always will be so, since this is what gives rugby the spice and conviviality that are missing from so many other sports.
You also commented on the American football style of tackling. I believe that many, if not all, rugby players will agree that tackling a player American football style is not the healthiest thing to do, but tackling the rugby way enables one to stay fit and as unbroken as possible.
ELLIOT I. STOKES
NO SMOKE, NO FIRE
I must comment on the picture of Bobby Unser making a pit stop at the Ontario Speedway during the California 500 (Pull Over, Pull into the Pits and Pray, March 25). In your most recent articles on USAC racing you have stressed improved safety techniques for the cars and drivers and reported rule changes made by USAC in hopes of cutting down on accidents. If there is all this concern about safety, then why is the official sitting nearest the fuel tank (at the left in the picture) smoking a cigar? This appears to me to be a potentially hazardous situation. I hope that officials will be more careful at future races.
•Look again. The "official" in question is Dan Gurney, Unser's team manager, and what appears to be a cigar is a microphone through which Dan is communicating with his winning driver.—ED
Frank Deford's April 1 article Only You, Frank Darling made me pause in the middle of my favorite food, buttered baked potato. I didn't find the piece especially profound, more like a two-way mirror reflecting my own abortive career as a sports reporter 10 years ago at KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh. My boss was a nattily dressed, perpetually smiling fellow named Al Primo.
One day after I took Maury Wills to lunch, Primo nailed me in front of the entire TV and radio news staff. "Don't you ever show up in Stouffer's wearing a pink shirt again. I don't care who you take to lunch," he said.
It's good to hear that Al is succeeding in the role of Catch-22's Colonel Cathcart. I was making $50 a week at KDKA. After refusing to give up my pink shirts, I borrowed $1,500 from various banks on the station's good name and retired to Mexico later that year. But I never was relaxed there. I always suspected Primo would pop out from behind a cactus and cry, "Kid, we don't allow sandals in this desert."
Professor of Entomology
Cape Cod Community College
Frank Deford's article concerning his ventures into television broadcasting really brought the facts to light. As one who lives in the New York City area, I think it is about time Al Primo and all the other "Yummies" started looking for some sportscasters who know what they are talking about. Who cares what they wear or how their hair is styled? Why not get some men who understand sports and can tell the difference between a basketball and a hockey puck. Judging from this article, Mr. Deford would be a good man to start with. Whether he really is funny-looking or not.
Aren't the "Yummies" depicted in Frank Deford's article the same guys the late Fred Allen described when he said they come to work in the morning, find a molehill on their desk, then attempt to make a mountain out of it by five o'clock?
ROBERT B. MARTIN
Your interesting series on Babe Ruth (And Along Came Ruth, March 18 et seq.) has reminded all of us of what I feel is baseball's most underrated record. Ruth slugged .847 in 1920 and .846 in 1921 but his many bases on balls cut down his other totals.
Try to imagine one of the current crop of sluggers getting 240 hits in 600 at bats for a .400 batting average. Now pretend he hits 50 doubles, 10 triples and breaks the home-run record with 65.
He would be called the greatest ever, yet his slugging average would be .842 and Ruth would still have had two better seasons.
•Ruth would still have had two higher slugging averages, but even the staunchest defender of the Babe would have to concede that a man who hit .400, had 125 extra-base hits and 505 total bases had a better season.—ED.
Here is some more Babe memorabilia. The year was 1930. Following an exhibition game in Bradenton, Fla. the Babe took off for St. Petersburg in his big touring car, top down, white cap and all, full speed ahead. He passed through Palmetto (pop. 2,800) at a rather rapid clip, for those days anyway. Our policeman finally caught up with him five miles north of town.
"You were going pretty fast through that town back there," he told the-Babe.
Babe then gave the answer that has become famous here in Palmetto: "I didn't see no town."
Even the Chamber of Commerce laughed.
I take exception to your article on the Alaska pipeline (Power and Light on a Lonely Land, March 25). I feel that you have unfairly portrayed environmentalists as the "bad guys" who are insistent on preventing the drilling of Alaskan oil at any cost—even the destruction of the American economy and way of life. In doing this, you have vaguely distorted a few facts, which I would like to correct.
The environmental movement does not want the Alaskan oil project given up totally. Rather, we would like all the viable alternatives considered. An example of this is the construction of a pipeline from Prudhoe Bay through Canada to the Midwest. This idea has several advantages to it. The Canadian government is already considering a gas pipeline along that path, therefore only one ecosystem would be affected by two pipelines. Also, the pipeline would not be traveling over the most volatile earthquake zone in the Western Hemisphere. Lastly, it would reduce the cost of the oil products for all of the U.S. population living east of the Rockies. (The West Coast may not be able to use the total production of Alaskan oil.) Obviously, there is a disadvantage to this suggestion—the time element. But the Alaskan oil will not have any effect on today's energy crisis, since it will not be shipped in large quantities until the 1980s, so I think a year or two delay might be thinkable considering the other points I have mentioned.
You also mentioned in your article that we (the consumers) will eventually have to pay for the public relations area and environmental specialists hired by the companies to counteract the propaganda of the so-called lunatic fringe. I have already paid 63.9¢ a gallon for gas, so the prospect of absurd prices no longer terrifies me. Also, since you used the expression "consortium" very freely in your article (my dictionary defines consortium as a "coalition of banks or corporations in a business venture"), I feel that we are going to pay high prices to this oil coalition (cartel, monopoly) whether we want to or not.
My last point is a simple one. Environmentalists are sick and tired of saying "I told you so." Dirty air, dirty water, noise pollution, the energy shortage were all predicted long before they occurred. Economic interests overruled the "lunatic fringe" each time. Isn't it time we paid just a little bit of attention?
BRUCE R. ADLER
While it is undoubtedly true that "we do not know—and have never known—what man should be," it is also an irrefutable fact that man cannot live by bread alone. When the comparatively insignificant oil-energy crisis gives way to the far more critical water crisis, humankind will then discover what it should have been but never was.
LITTLE LEAGUE LASSES
In regard to "Boy, Meet Girl" (SCORECARD, March 25), we happen to be two of the many girls who want to play in boys' Little League Baseball. There is now a girls' Little League being started in our town, but it is Softball, and most girls can't stand using a softball. For one thing, you can't get a good grip on it, as you can a baseball, and it won't fit into a glove. It really doesn't matter if "we get seriously hurt" or not, because boys can get hurt just as bad, and in some cases even worse. And getting hurt is something you have to accept in baseball; it's all part of the game.
Most of the guys don't care if we play baseball with them or not. We can do things just as well as they can, so we deserve to play ball with them.
I am an avid sports fan and always have been, but I am disturbed by the apathy of the sports world toward the lunatic element of the Women's Lib movement. It is attempting to destroy the Little League organization and I feel your magazine should back the Little League to the hilt. I have small children of both sexes and I believe most sports should be kept separate because most girls will not be able to compete, and because the young boys who are inferior to some girls will be harmed psychologically for the rest of their lives. I also feel that including girls on the boys' teams will weaken the performances of the boys. The Little League is being realistic in setting up a separate softball program for girls.
LARRY L. WREN
Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is to be commended for its rational position statement on the New Jersey Little League controversy. It is all too obvious that girls and women have been denied equal opportunity in all levels of athletic activity in this country and that the time has come to correct past inequities. I quite agree that the attitude of those who would rather not let anyone play ball than allow little girls to play with the boys is parallel to that of those Southerners 15 years ago who preferred to shut down facilities entirely rather than permit integration.
PHYLLIS ZATLIN BORING, Ph.D.
Women's Equity Action League
Old Bridge, N.J.
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