Your cover and story on the University of Maryland football program was fantastic (Rising High on the Hit Parade, Oct. 4). We finally made it! Write on.
PAUL (BEAR) LIVESAY
Chevy Chase, Md.
As a Missouri fan, I was hoping to see on your cover a terrific photo of Mizzou Quarterback Pete Woods scoring the deciding points as the Tigers beat Ohio State. It is hard to believe that you passed over this great individual effort and showed us instead the quarterback of a team whose "strength to a considerable degree lies in the weakness of its opponents."
Your emphasis on Maryland's weak schedule is disturbing. For years, powers like Ohio State and Alabama have fattened their national rankings on powder-puff schedules, only to lose bowl games to stronger opposition. Both have already lost this year. If you are going to criticize the schedule of Maryland, at least be fair about it in terms of the national scene.
New York City
ROOTING FOR THE REDS
It looks as though the teams in this Bicentennial World Series might be the same as those that competed in the "series" of 1776—the Reds and the Yankees. Except that this time the Yanks don't need Paul Revere to tell them that the Big Red Machine is on its way. The only problem is that now the Reds wear sunglasses and Martin's Minute-men won't see the whites of their eyes until it is too late.
Notre Dame, Ind.
October 17, 1976
SIZING UP ALI
Muhammad Ali's recent fights against Jimmy Young and Ken Norton should do much to answer the question of what is happening to the sport of boxing. Many fight fans hold to the belief that the only way a champion can lose his title is to be so soundly beaten in the ring that he must be carried out. If a person subscribes to such a theory, then he can hardly expect any other consequences than the farces Ali has perpetrated against Young and Norton.
If Ali knows that he must be knocked out, or at least knocked down several times, in order to lose a decision, then he can continue to do what he did against Young—merely go on the defensive for 15 rounds and not give the challenger an opportunity to hit him. Had Ali not been the champion when he fought Young, the judges would certainly have given the decision to Young. But, because he was the champion, Ali "won" the fight. That boils down to giving the Steelers a touchdown edge in the next Super Bowl, or giving the Reds a two-run lead in all the games of this year's World Series.
For a sport to flourish, the people who buy tickets to watch it should not be able to predict the outcome of a match so certainly. The present college football season is a good example. The outbreak of upsets has done much to increase interest in the sport.
Mark Kram was as far off in his prefight prediction (he picked Ali within seven rounds—All Set to Slam in the Rubber Match, Sept. 27) as were the judges who scored the fight an Ali victory. I do, however, give Kram credit for having the courage to come right out, not hedge, and make a bold prediction; and, rather than blast Kram, what I'm really out to blast is the decision. Norton won the fight. He knows it, Ali knows it, and even Ali's fans greeted the announcement of the final decision with surprise and less than wholehearted applause.
Obviously, the boxing Establishment felt there just had to be an Ali victory so Ali could fight George Foreman and ensure another multimillion-dollar gate for boxing. Never again will I pay to see an Ali fight on closed-circuit TV. As if the prices aren't bad enough (anywhere from $15 to $25), you run the risk, if the fight goes the distance, of a rip-off on the decision because of the economics and politics of the sport.
I saw the fight and there's no doubt about it. Ken Norton was robbed!
When Ali predicts that a fight will be over by the fifth round, and instead needs the 15th round to pull it out by a hair, his fighting days are numbered. My idea of a champ is one who can beat his opponent, and do it decisively. Ali has been anything but decisive in his last two title bouts. It's time he hung up his gloves and let some of the newer fighters strut their stuff.
THE DOCTOR'S BILLS
I was thoroughly disgusted with your Oct. 4 SCORECARD item siding with the New York Nets' Julius Erving in his quest for renegotiation of his contract. The $400,000-a-year salary of Nate Archibald, the newest Net, is irrelevant, as is Erving's value to the rest of the NBA. The point is that Erving signed a seven-year, $1.9 million contract beginning with the 1973-74 season. He therefore has the legal obligation to fulfill this agreement, which guaranteed him financial security regardless of any fluctuation in pro basketball salaries.
Dr. J is without doubt the No. 1 gate attraction in the newly enlarged NBA. As you say, he is underpaid compared to other stars. He should have opted for one-year contracts so that he could command his worth each year. But he chose the seven-year arrangement, since one-year deals offer no long-term security in the event of injury or subpar performance. He wants the best of the two worlds, and for the sake of pro sports he shouldn't get it.
By the way, should Nets Owner Roy Boe be able to renegotiate Dr. J's and his other players' contracts downward if pro basketball salaries go down as a result of the NBA-ABA merger?
Julius Erving does not deserve a new contract. As for your suggestion that the "old 18" teams of the NBA underwrite the added costs of a higher contract for Erving, it is unreasonable. The ultimate result will be higher ticket prices in every city, and, as usual, the losers will be the fans.
WILLIAM M. KERR
I totally agree with your item. If the owner of the Nets gets no gate receipts for away games and the owners of the old NBA teams won't kick in to raise Julius Erving's salary, the Nets should keep the Doctor at home. His current $300,000 salary will be plenty to cover his play in home games. Maybe then the other owners and fans around the league will wake up.
JOE BRANDT Peru, Ill.
If you are trying to sever relations with Canada, just keep writing articles like the one about the Canada Cup (Canceling a Bunch of Good Czechs, Sept. 27). I find it hard to believe someone would actually point out that Canada was the first host country of the Olympics not to win a gold medal. Is there a law that says one must? That statement had nothing to do with anything. It was a cheap shot, to say the least.
Another thing I'd like to know is who is Peter Gammons and from what planet does he come. He implies my country's morale is low. I feel great to be a Canadian. We won the Canada Cup tournament, we held a great Olympics and we are the North American Soccer League champions. I've rarely had more national pride.
We Canadians take offense at such outlandish comments as Mike Milbury's ("I think we proved something to that bunch of egomaniacs") after Team USA, or Team Useless, lost to Canada 4-2. First of all, nothing was proved. The Americans had lost two previous exhibition games to Team Canada by huge margins. And it is a fact that heavily favored teams play just well enough to win against a weak opponent.
As far as "that bunch" being egomaniacs, when was the last time that an American athlete looked in the mirror?
So Team Canada was extended to beat Team USA 4-2 after beating the same club 10-3 and 7-3 in exhibition games.
So Team Canada lost 1-0 to Czechoslovakia, the 1976 world amateur champions, in a classic hockey game between two superb teams.
So the Soviet Union sent a young team. Team Canada's average age was under 27, and only seven of the players were on Team Canada '72. Canada's old stars were left behind, and the "household names" of the Soviets suffered the same fate.
So Peter Gammons overlooked the series for what it really was, great hockey between teams made up of the top "pros" in the world.
I'd give you 10-to-1 odds that more than half the hockey fans would not select Vladislav Tretiak as the best goalie in the world. Bernie Parent in his prime was every bit as good, and Rogie Vachon isn't bad. Jiri Holecek of the Czechs was pretty impressive also. And the young Russians weren't that bad, either. They beat Team USA 5-0.
Congratulations to Coles Phinizy for an excellent article on unlimited hydroplane great Bill Muncey (His Future Is Unlimiteds, Sept. 27). Longtime observers of the sport who figure that writers have told every tale there is to tell about Muncey can still chuckle over Phinizy's latest anecdotes.
GEORGE BYERS JR.
Unlimited Racing Commission
American Power Boat Association
George Packard's Ancient Extravaganza in the Black Forest (Oct. 4) is one of the most human and encouraging of your hunting articles. It is in direct contrast with an article you had about 2½ years ago in which you depicted deer hunting via helicopter in New Zealand (Slaughter on South Island, March 18, 1974). That hunt had none of the fine rituals and brotherhood that the hunt in Germany has. Perhaps we should institute schools and exams for hunters in this country to weed out the nonsportsmen.
As a hunter, I was very much impressed by the article on the Black Forest hunt. George Packard emphasized the Germans' appreciation of nature, of what the forest can provide, and their efforts to conserve its elements. The traditions and customs of their hunt are quaint and appealing to any sportsman. One can imagine stalking through the soft browns and grays of the forest pierced by rapier-like beams of sunlight. However, there is one disturbing aspect of the German hunt and that is the rigidity with which men and dogs are chosen to become hunters.
As one who appreciates the esthetic value of the hunt as well as its practical side (food, conservation through herd thinning), I am unsettled by the seeming "Big Brother" attitude of German hunting officials. I can just feel the pressure of having to face six expressionless judges during the oral part of the hunting test. Surely anyone wishing to pass the test must dedicate enormous amounts of time, money and effort to that pursuit. This makes hunting a sport for the leisure class, especially when you compare the three-barreled monsters they equip themselves with to my one-shot 16-gauger with a paint-flecked stock ($15 secondhand).
JAMES J. ARNEBERG
In his coverage of the Little Brown Jug (Enhancing Dancer's Image, Oct. 4) Douglas Looney apparently was so impressed with the performance of Keystone Ore that he lost all objectivity. The third-place finisher in the race, Warm Breeze, was mentioned twice in the article, and each time Looney saw fit to refer to this fine 3-year-old as "a nobody."
This year's Jug attracted an outstanding field of pacers. None of these horses deserves the derisive term used by your writer, least of all a colt that is a world-record holder. Warm Breeze, a $72,000 yearling, was not raced as a 2-year-old because of vertebrae problems, but he is now beginning to live up to his royal breeding (Bret Hanover-Touch of Spring). On Aug. 19 in the Review Futurity at Springfield, Ill., he won in straight heats, and in the second heat his time of 1:54[4/5] equaled the world record for 3-year-old pacers on a one-mile track. This mark was set by the horse considered by many experts to be the greatest pacer of all time, the immortal Albatross. Interestingly, Albatross' time was again equaled two days later at Syracuse by the one horse that Looney claims could compete with Keystone Ore for 3-year-old pacing honors: Oil Burner.
Warm Breeze won the Horseman Futurity at Indianapolis, with a winning heat of 1:58⅖ and followed that with a second-place summary finish in the Geers Stake at Du Quoin, winning the first heat in 1:58[4/5]. He finished a good fourth to Keystone Ore in the Brown Jug Trial at Hazel Park prior to his showing in the Jug itself.
WILLIAM J. STOLL
Granite City, Ill.
A CASE FOR AGE
The magnificent racehorse Forego is now receiving some attention, but it certainly has been late in coming (At Least He Leaves Losers Proud, Sept. 27). This has been my impression, anyway, and a quick survey of my psychology students bears this out. During the week following Forego's victory in the Woodward Handicap, I asked 86 students if they had heard of Secretariat, Foolish Pleasure and Forego. The results were that 70% said they had heard of Secretariat, and almost as many (69%) had heard of Foolish Pleasure. But only 21% had heard of Forego.
I also asked the students which racehorse currently competing they thought was the greatest. Only 11 of the 86 students ventured an opinion, and nine of the 11 picked Foolish Pleasure. The other two selected Forego.
Although this survey is admittedly very limited, it does suggest that recognition goes mainly to the horses that make their mark in the glamorous 3-year-old races. I think this might have something to do with our culture's general romanticization of youth. We fail to appreciate the strengths and dignity of age—even when, particularly in the case of racehorses, the older ones are generally superior.
WILLIAM C. CRAIN
Assistant Professor of Psychology
City College of New York
New York City
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