I thoroughly enjoyed your year-end tribute to the Bicentennial (Dec. 22-29). About the only things that outshone your articles on colonial sport ("America Is Formed for Happiness") and the "Cloud of Famers" (My Kinda Guy, Your Kinda Guy, a Legend in His Own Time, a Great American...) were your selection of and Ron Fimrite's article on Sportsman of the Year Pete Rose, a real all-American.
CHARLES C. EUCHNER
My thanks to you and to Frank Deford for a most entertaining and refreshing article on the presentation of the "Sportsman of the Century, 18th wise" award at the Bicentennial Awards Banquet held in the Immortals' Lounge of the Cloud of Fame. I don't think the All-Time Old-Time Sportsman's Club selection committee could have chosen a better person, ah, immortal than George Washington.
Incidentally, the Gipper and Knute Rockne will have their hands full when and if the Bear gets there.
VISIONS OF TROUT
Nathan Adams' article on fishing in Kenya (God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen, Dec. 22-29) is one of the finest I have ever read in SI, and so appropriate at this time of the year. It will recall memories of similar experiences for many trout fishermen, regardless of their locale.
TOP DOUBLES PARTNERS
In reading George Plimpton's delightful tennis piece Those Were the Days (Nov. 24), I came to an abrupt halt when I was quoted as saying, "Jack Kramer was a bad doubles player." Wrong! To set the record straight, Kramer was an outstanding partner.
Also, the Plimpton article omitted another doubles great, Tony Trabert. He had to be super—out of 28 tournaments we played, he carried me to 27 wins along with two Davis Cup victories. Yes, George, "Those were the days!"
WILLIAM F. TALBERT
New York City
Your SCORECARD item (Dec. 22-29) regarding NFL expansion omits one important fact. As was announced at the time, Seattle and Tampa Bay were given their initial conference assignments only for standings purposes pending the completion of long-range expansion plans. After that we anticipate we will wind up with 30 teams in six five-team divisions—perhaps by realignment or by adding the 29th and 30th franchises plus Seattle and Tampa to the existing "fours."
In 1976 and 1977 the Seattle and Tampa Bay teams will play a swing schedule—meeting the 13 other teams in their conference that year plus each other. In that manner each will have played all 26 previous NFL teams once in two seasons.
To have undertaken realignment (the last one took endless meetings covering nearly a year's time prior to the 1970 single-league schedule) at this time would have been somewhat like building an extra room for an overnight guest.
There are many strong arguments pro and con on realignment according to geographical location. But one "con" becomes immediately evident: lost under your suggestion, for example, would be the Dallas-Washington home-and-home annual series in the NFC East. You have to go back to the Browns-Giants battle for the NFL Eastern Conference in the '50s and '60s to match it for game-in, game-out suspense.
I hope that clarifies the "dumb" temporary decision somewhat.
National Football League
New York City
THE WFL STORY
I read your article on the fall of the World Football League (The Day the Money Ran Out, Dec. 1). I am chagrined that it was little more than a meandering scrapbook of previously published quotations and excerpts, a cocktail party compendium that merely enshrined the inaccuracies and biases perpetrated by the media in the several franchise cities.
By way of example, let me comment on some of the Philadelphia stories. King Corcoran was cut from the team the day he made the statements quoted. You merely requoted gossip. Any team may experience poor bus service 3,000 miles from home, especially when the bus is hired by a third party, as in our case. But most of our trips were by chartered Delta Airlines DC9, which, due to plane availability, could not leave until 9 p.m. And, yes, we would ordinarily leave just after the game so that the players could board the DC9 for steak dinners and cold beer. We all should be so fortunate.
Philadelphia was a low draw, but this was mostly due to the constant dramatization of the league's problems. We therefore expected poor attendance in 1975. Many unsung people worked hard and long toward a future that has now been snatched away. However, despite the small attendance, our 1975 cheerleaders were never fired for financial reasons. What is true is that the 1974 cheerleaders were released because of their incompetence; just a routine check on your part would have shown that the Philadelphia team was financially responsible in both 1974 and 1975.
I could continue to point out the facts of this tragicomedy, but doing so would not compensate for the travails of all involved. Nor would it result in the serious statement that should be made about professional sports in this country, the failures and their causes, the ideas and energies. The World Football League is now a sorry collection of worn-out wishes and tired dreams, and it grieves me to think that it will continue to be falsely maligned even after its death.
JOHN EDWARD BOSACCO
(President of the Philadelphia Bell)
You quote Eddie Einhorn of TVS as blaming some of the WFL's problems on big-city prejudice: "A person who lives in New York is insulted to go see San Antonio, a burg like that. He wants Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia. If the little burgs ever beat you, it's ridiculous. It's insulting."
Allow me to point cut a couple of things the big-city fans may have overlooked: 1) the players who perform for the professional football teams of our great metropolises rarely come from these metropolises. Mostly, they come from burgs like San Antonio; and 2) a burg named Green Bay has won more NFL championships than any team representing New York, Chicago, Detroit or Philadelphia.
DAVID R. SCHRYER
Newport News, Va.
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