How refreshing to read about a professional athlete who doesn't think through a sneaker or talk through an agent's mouth (The Fire Was Gone and So He Quit, Nov. 22). Dave Cowens' attitude reflects a person who seems to be not only physically fit, but also psychologically stable enough to consider himself as much more than a commercial package of muscle and sweat.
THOMAS R. JONES
Though not a Boston Celtic fan or a Dave Cowens fan, I have always had the highest regard for Cowens' basketball ability. After reading your article, I respect him even more as a man.
B. J. LANGE
The average person has little difficulty understanding Dave Cowens' reasons for leaving the Celtics. Many of us have experienced the same feelings in our own careers. We can identify with his thinking and respect the honorable way in which he took his leave. I am sure his actions are puzzling to many other professional superstars, however. Catfish Hunter and George McGinnis must be astounded. Reggie Jackson, Julius Erving and Don Gullett are surely amazed. And can O. J. Simpson or Bobby Hull understand what Cowens has done? Probably not, but I'll have a much easier time explaining Cowens' actions to my 10-year-old sports-fan son than I have had trying to explain the recent actions of some other professional athletes. I wish Cowens the best of luck in whatever he decides to do.
As a Celtic fan I should be saddened by Dave Cowens' leave-taking, but I am not. It takes a big man to play basketball the way he does and an even bigger person to know, and admit it, when his play is uninspired. He gets my vote for MVP, because rather than rip off the fans and the game, he took a break to check his priorities. How many players, superstars or not, are willing to do that? Maybe it is a reminder that sports, although often paying big money, are not bigger than life.
ERIC A. NELSON
Forest Park, Ill.
December 6, 1976
May I suggest that professional sports examine themselves and the monster they have created. I hope other athletes will not be driven from the sports they love.
GARY F. KEPHART
ON THE LINE
The Frank Hammond position while calling the service line during a tennis match is, as George Plimpton reported (On the Firing Line, Nov. 15), comparable to that of "a-sprinter poised in the starting blocks." Nobody can do a Hammond stance like Frank.
Unfortunately, SI showed Hammond only in repose, so I'd like to share my photograph of Hammond in action at the U.S. Open this past September.
New York City
For years tennis pros have complained about the quality of officiating, yet tennis does not pay its officials an adequate wage, if any wage at all. If these same players gave up a small portion of their prize money to be set aside for a regular salaried corps of officials, the officiating would improve. You get what you pay for.
PETER F. SALOMON, M.D.
Your Nov. 22 cover of new NFL star Walter Payton of the Bears was most gratifying. Chicago's success this year has been due to the improvement of Payton. Chicago fans have been waiting a long time for a winner and No. 34 could be just what we need.
Your collection of new NFL stars (Making a Name for Themselves) is incomplete. You left out two very good players. Wide Receiver Frank Grant and Running Back Mike Thomas of the Redskins. Drafted by Washington in the 13th round in 1972, Grant replaced the injured Roy Jefferson last year and did a fantastic job. So far this year he has 46 pass receptions for 747 yards and five touchdowns. Thomas rushed for 919 yards last year as a rookie, and he has gained 1,003 yards on 227 attempts and scored five touchdowns to date this year.
The fine article on UCLA Coach Terry Donahue (His Needlepoint Points the Way, Nov. 22) provided readers with some insight into the prime candidate for the 1976 Coach of the Year award. Although the Bruins stumbled in their last game against the Southern California Trojans, Donahue inspired a team that did not appear among SI's Top 20 at the beginning of the season to a spot in the Top 10. The rookie coach probably did bleed his share of blue and gold after the USC loss, but then so did many other UCLA alumni. We'll be watching for Donahue and his gritty Bruins to bounce back against 'Bama in the Liberty Bowl.
JOHN G. SCRABECK, D.D.S.
Santa Rosa, Calif.
Your account of Kapaa High School's 30-year wait to win the football championship in a three-team league (SCORECARD, Nov. 22) reminded me of a story my father used to tell about his graduating class in grade school. There were only three students. One pupil was the valedictorian, a second was the salutatorian and the third finished in the bottom third of the class.
Montauk Point, N.Y.
As a 1963 graduate of San Rafael High School, where I was one of the Bulldogs' least talented and most undisciplined athletes, I read your article Jim Dandy Gym (Nov. 15) with great interest.
Where were gym specialist Marcia Arevalo and school board member Gale Fisher when we needed them? I recall spending 10 minutes "dressing out," 15 minutes taking roll call and 25 minutes hiding my knobby knees from the girls "across a sex gap as formidable as a gator-filled moat," as Jim Kaplan so accurately described it. I even remember my gym locker number and combination. Oh, how I long to return. I think I left a pack of crush-proof Marlboros and a warm Rainier Ale under my monkey suit.
All of us pre-Recreational Renaissance grads—and others leading sedentary lives and getting regular EKGs—should demand programs similar to San Rafael's in our children's schools.
JOHN WALLACE FRANZMAN
Several years have passed since I had the experience of student-teaching boys' P.E. After one semester of regimentation and complete disillusionment, I wondered whether I was a teacher or a drill sergeant. Judging by San Rafael, it looks as if high school P.E. programs may finally be coming out of the Dark Ages. Hooray for instructors Bill Monti and Marcia Arevalo!
I am a former P.E. teacher who once attempted to install a similar program on a smaller scale in another state, but was blocked by the administration of the school district. It seems that most view the P.E. program as a catch-all for problem students and not as a part of the educational process.
Thank you for the article on San Rafael's fine physical education program. Our local high school has a similar program, and I welcome it as much as my son enjoys it.
I was surprised and disappointed, however, by one remark in the article: "While most electives strain the muscles, others, such as Frisbee, strain credulity." Your writer is apparently unaware of the ways that Frisbee can be played. Suffice it to say that for years I played pickup basketball a couple of hours a week to keep myself in condition, but recently, owing to a shortage of courts for basketball, I switched to Frisbee. I find the difference, in terms of sweat during play and aches afterward, unnoticeable.
People should realize that the Frisbee is not, in itself, a game. It is a medium, a means to all kinds of games. We have played Frisbee golf, Frisbee football, Frisbee baseball and many other variations.
MUSBURGER & CO.
It was good to finally learn that overwork is the villain in what I consider to be one of the most dull, imprecise and disorganized sports commentaries currently on the airwaves (TV/RADIO, NOV. 15). Your article about Brent Musburger and other pro football commentators was aptly named (They Know What the Score Is), for the score is generally all they know. On CBS's NFL Today, Phyllis George adds a new dimension in slapstick reporting, Musburger is hurried, careless and inarticulate, and Irv Cross (possibly the best of the three) gets only crumbs. I'm glad to read that the work schedule is at fault. It's sad, however, that the network is force-feeding us this bland, and often inaccurate,' TV journalism as professional reporting. I took your article as an endorsement and am disappointed.
Brent Musburger has a pleasant personality, has done a good job on the NBA telecasts and I am sure is quite capable of all types of play-by-play. As an anchorman, however, he just doesn't fill the bill. Most of the time on NFL Today he sounds more like the morning deejay on the local bubble-gum rock station than a sportscaster.
It was a pleasure to read William Leggett's article on pro football announcers. Praise for the likes of Brent Musburger and Jack Whitaker was long overdue. These men add an extra dimension to the game.
Brent Musburger was the best in Chicago, and now he is the best everywhere.
IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT
Accolades to Sam Posey, a driver par excellence, for his superb article on Le Mans (Down a Dark Hall at 185 mph, Nov. 15). The Manufacturers Championship is a difficult and most demanding series, taxing the talents of the major sports car/GT designers and the drivers. The 24-Hours of Le Mans is the epitome of this mental and physical struggle, and Posey has brought to light the inner fears and complexities of competing in that race.
CAROLINO CENTENO JR.
GROWTH OF BOWLS
As a subscriber since the first issue, I was particularly pleased to see an article on lawn bowling in your Nov. 8 issue (The Bowl Doth Run in Biasse Wales). Rose Mary Mechem was well informed. While the growth of bowls in the U.S. and Canada has been disappointing, we hope that the changes that are taking place will make the game more popular, with more and more young people finding out that as much skill, precision and coordination are required in bowls as in many other sports. Professor Ezra Wyeth of California State University-Northridge, a champion bowler himself, is doing his best to destroy the image that only old people play the game. Through his efforts and coaching, the university now has a credit course in bowls.
There are 22 countries affiliated with the International Bowling Board, including Western Samoa, and in these countries there are more than 8,000 clubs with nearly 600,000 members. Last February at Johannesburg more than 100,000 spectators watched world championship games between 16 countries over 18 days, and on the final day many people could not buy tickets, as the stands held only 10,000.
International Bowling Board
Vancouver, British Columbia
IOWA GIRLS' BASKETBALL
In SCORECARD (Nov. 8) you referred to six-person basketball for girls as being old-fashioned and a static form of the game.
As you well know, here in Iowa girls still play the six-on-a-side game. As you are also aware, this so-called static form attracts 80,000 to 90,000 people annually to our state tournament, not to mention the many people who view the final two nights of action on a multi-state television network. Not too bad for being old-fashioned and static!
Our game allows more girls to participate at one time and lets them perform at a level of ability best suited to them. It seems to me that one of the prime aims of high school athletics should be not to produce Olympic, college or AAU players, but to give competitors the greatest chance to participate. I have had many girls play guard for me who would never have been able to play the five-on-five game.
LYNN D. PHILLIBER
Girls Basketball Coach
The FACES IN THE CROWD item (Nov. 15) on Bala Jahumpa, Vassar soccer star, stated that the team had a 7-0 record. That was only its league record. Lest readers think Vassar played only half a schedule, we should point out that the combined league and non-league record was 11-2.
Vassar Soccer Team
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