My compliments to Curry Kirkpatrick for introducing the Denver Nuggets to us (They Run and They Gun—and They're a Mile High, March 29). It's hard to believe that in this day and age a major sports league can go unrecognized by television and the daily press. Three pure-gold cheers for SI.
To a dyed-in-the-wool Chicago Bulls, Black Hawks, Bears and Cubs fan, a transfer to Denver brought certain frustrations: minor league baseball (Bears), a defunct WHA entry (Spurs), and wait-till-next-year football (Broncos). But, oh, those Nuggets!
David, Dan, Ralph, Bobby and Larry hooked me when they destroyed the Celtics in the preseason. Sure, we know what we've got in the Nuggets. For the pure fan, that should be enough. Nonetheless, Curry Kirkpatrick provided a clear summation of the Nuggets and the ABA.
ERIC B. MUNSON
After reading your article on ice shows (Skating Rings Around America, March 29), I can only conclude that nobody likes us but "the people." My personal thanks to all those wonderful people.
Holiday On Ice
Your article on ice shows was terribly negative. SI barely gives figure skating a nod, despite the stunning athletic ability the skaters often exhibit. Add to that superb grace under pressure. Figure skating is evolving into an increasingly complex mix of gymnastics and artistic interpretation. It is hard to believe that those who skate lack a sense of exultation when all goes well in a performance, as the article implies. Surely the audience does not feel all the delight.
CLAUDIA MONEY LUCKETT
Frank Deford states, "...largely because of their [ice shows'] popularity here and abroad, ice dancing was included for the first time in the 1976 Olympics," and later adds, "The embracing of ice dancing by the Olympics was a rare endorsement for ice shows." His implication that ice shows and ice dancing are one and the same could not be farther from the truth. In fact, pairs skating has more in common with an ice-show routine than ice dancing does, because of the restrictions placed upon the latter concerning lifts, spins, jumps and separations.
Ice dancing has been an integral part of the national and world championships for many years now, and its Olympic acceptance is because of its immense popularity as a championship event, not because of any ice show extravaganzas. Allow me to suggest that the next time you do an article on skating, you choose a writer who has at least mastered double-runners.
HOWARD BARTON 3RD
Staten Island, N.Y.
I'm pleased to see you publicize the proposal to split the Olympics (SCORECARD, March 29). It's an idea whose time came some years ago. Unfortunately, the time has not yet come for the International Olympic Committee, and the world's greatest sporting event continues to suffer from a worn-out format.
We have advocated splitting the Games for at least 10 years. And we would not stop with scheduling events in a number of different cities within the host country. The Olympic competitions should be held in a number of different countries and should be scheduled throughout the four-year period that is called an Olympiad.
The advantages are several. The Games no longer would be too big and too costly for one city to hold. Many more cities and countries could host events. Interest in the Olympics would be more or less continuous. Athletes would benefit from less overall pressure while at the same time seeing more attention focused on each sport, one at a time. And the number of Olympic sports could be increased.
Whatever may be lost by such a program is of small matter compared to the gains. And it may be the only way this truly great and worthwhile event can be saved.
Editor and Publisher
Track & Field News
Los Altos, Calif.
If Jonty Skinner (He's Making a Games Try, March 29) is a man without a country, why can't he swim in the Olympic Games that way? He ought to be able to represent himself, without carrying a flag or wearing some nation's Olympic patch on his sweat suit. The Olympics are supposed to be contests among individuals, not countries.
South Bound Brook, N.J.
FAR FROM THE RANGE
Sarah Pileggi's article concerning Winter Place Farm in Salisbury, Md. (A Kingdom for My Horse, March 29) was very informative. I never realized there were such facilities for show horses. They are bathed in tiled whirlpools, ridden in rings luxuriously appointed with pine-paneled walls and crystal chandeliers and housed in their own barns. It's a shame that the average American can't live in such lavish surroundings.
J. R. HELLMAN
New York City
SHEDDING LIGHT ON THE SUBJECT
The LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER in the March 29 issue was fascinating. I have often marveled at the quality of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED photography, and knowing how it is done only heightens my admiration.
RODNEY J. HAYNOR
JOHNNY LONGDEN'S RECORD
In reference to Tommy Nakagawa's letter (March 29), Tommy is right and you are wrong. You are cheating John Longden out of six lifetime victories when you state that he rode only 6,026 winners.
I talked to Johnny personally and he told me that he had ridden 6,032 winners and showed me the proof in a resume of his victories listed in B. K. Beckwith's book The Longden Legend. Please check again.
DAVID H. O'BRIEN
Assistant Stable Superintendent
Los Angeles Turf Club
•A total of 6,032 winners is correct. SI got the figure of 6,026 from the The American Racing Manual, which records only North American races. Longden rode the "missing" six winners in Australia, England, Ireland and Scotland.—ED.
THE PLAYGROUND GAME
In SCORECARD (March 15) Marquette Coach Al McGuire reiterates the persistent myth that most playground basketball consists of a bunch of fun-loving kids competing "just for the joy of playing," with little emphasis on winning. Experience as a player and teacher leads me to the opposite conclusion: that most of the playground games are in deadly earnest and can become almost masculinity rites for the participants. The extreme level of ego involvement in these games is evidenced by the highly individualistic styles of play. "One-on-one" is the order of the day. Nobody "gives it up." Everybody "puts it up." Defense consists primarily of attempts to make your opponent "eat his lunch" when he tries to shoot.
What is more, the two best players seldom oppose one another, for one would then have to lose. So sides are chosen by methods which ensure that the better players are on the same team. The game is almost always "make it-take it," which allows for humiliatingly large margins of victory. The highly personal nature of each player's involvement makes winning different, but hardly less important for the people involved. The self-identity of each is now at stake.
So enough about the "purity" of the playground game. It seems far more likely that Coach McGuire's program attracts the winners of the playground system. They are the ones who "go down to the corner and have hot dogs and a Coke." The losers are still at the court, looking desperately for someone they can beat. "In your face," Al.
COSTLY FREE THROWS
Frank G. Pollock suggested in his letter (March 8) that if Michigan had not had to shoot a one-and-one free throw after Indiana committed its seventh personal foul of the second half, the Wolverines would not have lost that game. This may be true, but his idea of giving a team the choice of shooting a free throw or keeping the ball makes no sense. If he would like to see a rules change, then let the colleges adopt the NBA free-throw rule that gives the shooting team two-to-make-one or three-to-make-two. This better serves the purpose of penalizing the team that fouled.
DALE M. BALOGH
I found Frank Pollock's recommendation for a change in basketball's foul rule during the last two minutes of each half somewhat misguided. Giving a team the option of keeping the ball would make it virtually impossible to break a stall. As it is, the stalling team may have to rely on its skill and poise at the free-throw line to maintain a lead, rather than just having to throw the ball inbounds again and again following a foul. The strategies coming out of a good stall at the end of a close game can be exciting, especially with the pressures and possibilities presented by having a team at the line in a tense situation. The real solution would have been for Michigan to make its free throw.
I was amused by your question about a female athlete at Texas Christian University: "Does she really want to be called a Horned Frog?" (SCORECARD, March 22).
The answer is yes, she does. That may sound strange, but when I was sports editor of the student newspaper I made the mistake of referring to female athletes at the university as Frogettes, and the roof came down. Letters poured in from every corner of the campus complaining about my word choice. The girls wanted to be called Horned Frogs, just like the male athletes.
Liberated females? We have them at Texas Christian. But tell me, does a woman athlete at Arkansas want to be called a Pig?
First Ladies? That's cute! Since when is the word "President" masculine? Washington & Jefferson has no switch to make.
JEB STUART, POSSUM
The article His Time Has Come (March 1) was the best story on possums I have ever read. But the part about my husband Horace and me was a bit inaccurate. We are from Columbus, Georgia, not Columbus, Ohio. We traveled 140 miles to get a replacement for our pet possum Punky Pooh, which died. We bought a possum (Jeb Stuart) from Dr. Kent Johns for $50 at that show. He was not as small as the article indicated, as he was seven months old. He won a blue ribbon that night for first place in his age group in the boar category, and he placed third in the World's Best Show Possum competition. I wish you would set the record straight, as we are planning on breeding and selling possums. We are in the process of getting a female possum now. Jeb Stuart is a pretty possum. His hair is soft like a kitten, not like possums of old. We are proud of him and hope he wins World's Best Show Possum next October.
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