19TH HOLE: THE READERS TAKE OVER

January 03, 1977

CHRIS
Sir:
I applaud your selection of Chris Evert as Sportswoman of the Year (Dec. 20-27) and agree that in 1976 she truly dominated her sport as no other man or woman did in any sport. However, I find it amazing that there is not a male sports figure among your top seven athletes of 1976. This is not to downgrade your recognition of people like Evert, Nadia Comaneci, Dorothy Hamill or Sheila Young, who all richly deserve your accolades. But in my opinion, you did us a disservice by not giving equal notice to such greats as Tony Dorsett, Julius Erving, Joe Morgan, John Naber, Jack Nicklaus and Bruce Jenner.
DECK P. MURRAY
Columbus, Ohio

Sir:
Oh, SI! How could you choose Chris Evert over Bruce Jenner, a man who has earned the title of the best all-round athlete in the world? To keep the Libbers happy, Nadia Comaneci would have been a logical second choice, because she put on a fantastic display of athletic ability in Montreal. Evert? A distant third.
KEVIN MCCARTHY
Calumet City, Ill.

Sir:
You've named a Sportswoman of the Year. Fine. Now let's get down to the nitty gritty and name your Sportsman of the Year.
PAUL STEVENS
Pompano Beach, Fla.

Sir:
I accuse you of reverse discrimination.
SAMUEL D. CATALINO
Zullinger, Pa.

Sir:
What next! A man on the cover of your bathing-suit issue?
DOUGLAS S. SIMON
Ann Arbor, Mich.

Sir:
You picked the wrong bird; it should have been Mark Fidrych.
JOHN STANO
Detroit

Sir:
Naming Chris Evert Sportswoman of the Year is like naming Ralph Nader Consumer Advocate of the Year. He doesn't have any competition, either.
JOHN TUSU JR.
Stockton, Calif.

Sir:
How you could pick a professional athlete in the year of the XXI Olympics and our American Bicentennial is totally beyond me. Without being critical of Chris Evert, I firmly believe that your award should have gone to Sheila Young, Peter Mueller, Leah Poulos, John Naber, Sugar Ray Leonard, Leon Spinks, Michael Spinks, Bruce Jenner, Edwin Moses, Mike Shine, Brian Goodell, Jenni Chandler or any of the other amateur competitors who represented our nation.
WILLIAM E. CARSLEY
Chicago

Sir:
Dorothy Hamill is the Sportswoman of the Year 1976.
MIKE LYNCH
Livonia, Mich.

Sir:
I was a parking lot attendant at Le Club International in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. in 1971. At that time I spent many a summer afternoon watching a relatively unknown but beautiful young lady practice for the first of her international competitions, the Wightman Cup matches. Little did I know that five years later she would be the toast of the tennis world and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S Sportswoman of the Year. Congratulations on an excellent choice. Chris Evert has grown more lovely and skilled as the years have passed and is very deserving of the honor.
TERRY FLEMING
Columbus, Ohio

Sir:
Chris Evert! Is that any way to run a Sportsman/Sportswoman of the Year department? You bet it is!
CHRISTINA CILADA
Bethesda, Md.

OKLAHOMA VS. THE "PRESS"
Sir:
Frank Deford's piece about Oklahoma football {Fans to Press: Drop Dead, Dec. 13) was well done and, unfortunately, accurate. Before joining another university in another state, I was a faculty member at the University of Oklahoma. From that experience, I can confirm that the university administration plays "second fiddle to the football team." The athletic department's "win at any cost" philosophy is supported by the administration and a majority of the fans. As a former college athlete, I have never seen an atmosphere like it.

Events past and present prove that if Frank Boggs says it, it is true. Indeed, "something is grotesquely wrong."
JOSEPH HARRIS
Oklahoma City

Sir:
To my way of thinking, no sport, big-time college football included, is a religion. Although sport provides a healthy and enjoyable outlet for participants and spectators alike, the whole idea is that it is not to be taken too seriously. This includes the people who write and announce sports activities. When the writers, the fans or the athletes start to believe that their team is life itself, the seeds of trouble are planted.
LEONARD H. FRIEDMAN
Los Angeles

Sir:
Frank Boggs' conclusion, "Sportswriters are also newspapermen, and they must be newspapermen first and sportswriters second," is something every sportswriter should cut out and paste to his or her typewriter as a reminder of what our jobs are all about.
STEVE REPKO
Sports Editor
The Ypsilanti Press
Ypsilanti, Mich.

Sir:
I was shocked and amazed by the furor over Frank Boggs' and Jack Taylor's report of a ticket-scalping investigation. If the Oklahoma fans are so worried about their team being disciplined again for unsavory acts, they ought to vent their wrath on those responsible for bringing them all this grief, i.e., those who are scalping, recruiting unethically or whatever. The idea of a team or coach controlling the local press is evidence of the sports hysteria in our country.

This is not to say that the press is perfect. It, too, falls prey to popular misconceptions and clichés. But we fans had better start channeling our emotions in the right direction. What a shame that those who tell the truth must feel threatened. Thanks for an enlightening piece of real journalism.
LYNNE JACKSON
Tucson

Sir:
Verbal harassment and threats of violence are deplorable acts, but Frank Boggs and Jack Taylor are not the Woodward and Bernstein of sports journalism that you depict, and the Times reads more like the National Enquirer than the Washington Post when OU football is the subject. The Times has not discouraged the notion that the story was dug up rather than stumbled upon. The involvement of an investigative reporter whose recent targets have been the Mafia and a corrupt politician is indicative of the approach the paper has taken in its coverage of the Sooners.

It has been common public knowledge for some time that there were hard feelings on the part of the Oklahoma Publishing Company over its loss of broadcast rights to OU games. This was a theory advanced by sports-writers and supported by the tone of the Times' copy. Most newspapers in the state were messengers bearing the same bad news as the Times, but none has encountered the same adverse response. It could be that writers for other papers addressed the subject as reporters rather than as crusaders. You are right when you claim there are too many "house" men writing about and broadcasting sports events, but hatchet men are not the only alternative.
DELBERT SULLIVAN
JOHN BRIER
Muskogee, Okla.

Sir:
I feel your article is totally unfair. We're not "vengeful fanatics." We weren't protesting Frank Boggs' and Jack Taylor's article. What we were protesting was the fact that they made a big deal out of OU players possibly scalping tickets when others do it. What is most disturbing to me as an OU fan is that they wrote that big article on OU and didn't say anything about Oklahoma State's alleged violations. If they were so upright and honest, why didn't they write something on OSU? If it wasn't for revenge, what was it for?
MARK BOOMER
Medford, Okla.

Sir:
Maybe scalping does go on, but it costs a whole lot to dress and live in the way of today. A lot of the parents can't afford to support their sons in style. What's the difference between players scalping tickets and adults doing it for a living?
CAROLYN ROBINSON
McLoud, Okla.

Sir:
The people who threatened Boggs and Taylor do not merit Deford's designation of them as "OU fans." For more rational Oklahomans the issue is not support of OU football, the issue is the fairness and accuracy of reporting in the Oklahoman and the Times. The reputation of these papers was at an alltime low long before the OU story hit the press.

No one has suggested that the First Amendment should not protect sportswriters, but Oklahomans, whether or not they are Sooner fans, have the right to that same protection in their criticism of the Oklahoma Publishing Company. I'll be telling the Oklahoman and the Times to drop dead long after the OU story is forgotten.
MICHAEL WOFFORD
Norman, Okla.

Sir:
Frank Deford rants in defense of the press, implying that the press reports only the truth. He also uses as an example an Indiana student newspaper report of an incident involving Coach Bobby Knight that never occurred. The media can label someone guilty until proven innocent, leaving a tarnish that a retraction cannot remove. It was of great interest to me to see 71 pages later in the same issue (The Tragedy on Gondola II) that the press endangered lives in two instances—by forcing a hospital helicopter away from its evacuation efforts of critically injured people and by hovering over cable cars hanging high in the air (again while people were being evacuated)—just to get a story because it's "the people's right to know."

If all of the press uses Watergate (as Deford does) as an excuse for an adversary approach in its reporting, we will have a monster that will require more and more government controls to protect the rights of the individual.
DAVID B. PIERPONT
White Pine, Mich.

Sir:
That article has got to be one of the most fantastic things ever to happen to journalism and the First Amendment. You have guts and class. No wonder we have pampered professional athletes when truthful, constructive criticism is not allowed. This is education and sportmanship? I think not. I am very proud to be a subscriber to your magazine.
GRACE CIOFFI
Palisades Park, N.J.

Sir:
It is ironic that some Oklahoma football fans feel demeaned by John Steinbeck's portrayal of the "Okies." Despite their desperate economic situation in the 1930s, Steinbeck showed that the Okies had dignity and strength of character. These characteristics are sorely lacking in some Oklahomans' reaction to the unveiling of yet another possible OU football scandal.
CHAR MILLER
Baltimore

Sir:
My thanks to Frank Deford for his excellent piece on sports journalism and for generously describing me as having attended Oklahoma as a football player. In fact, I was a mere student who masqueraded as a scrub halfback. If I don't nip this in the bud, I might be an All-America 20 years from now.
LARRY MERCHANT
NBC Sports
New York City

A TERRIFYING DAY
Sir:
I tip my hat to William Oscar Johnson for his account of the gondola crash at Vail (The Tragedy on Gondola II, Dec. 13). His vivid description of this ski disaster held my undivided attention throughout. It makes one really appreciate those seemingly fearless members of the ski patrol (especially Vail's). These men, seen on every ski slope, have my deepest respect and admiration.
DON HENDERSON
Greenville, Pa.

Sir:
The article clearly portrayed the ability of the Vail ski patrol to respond to a major disaster. The rapidity of the patrolmen's response and the professionalism of their actions were remarkable. In fact, the joint efforts of Vail Associates, the medical staff of the clinic and city personnel were outstanding. Having spent many beautiful days enjoying Vail Mountain, I have a profound respect for the ski patrol. The patrolman's job is not as glamorous as some believe. Dave Stanish, Dennis Mikottis, John Murphy, Chupa Nelson and the others should be commended for their dedication and concern for the safety of the thousands of skiers who invade Vail each day.
WILLIAM A. WALKER III, D.D.S.
San Antonio

Sir:
Your report on that tragic Friday in Vail was extremely accurate. As a witness to the accident. I must commend the ski patrol, especially patrolman Richard (Chupa) Nelson.
RALPH GAINES
Deerfield, Mass.

Sir:
I am appalled that you would have the in-sensitivity to publish an article about the tragedy at Vail just before Christmas! My heart goes out to the survivors.
BEVERLY S. GREEN
Danbury, Conn.

Sir:
I consider the article to be of no redeeming value, in bad taste and an unnecessary resurrection of an accident, the causes of which have been since corrected.
DAVID L. COLE
President
Timberline Properties Corporation
Vail, Colo.

Sir:
It is a godsend that a magazine of your quality would print a story so heartbreaking but true without the sensationalism that accompanies most such accounts. As an employee of a ski area in Oregon (Mt. Ashland), I am proud to say that you have shown the ski industry in its true light. Skiing is a business, of course, but you have shown the compassion and training of all of us involved in it. I thank you for your understanding of the problems that face a ski area and the training that we undergo to fulfill our duties to the public and to insure its safety.
DENNIS KELLY
Medford, Ore.

Sir:
William O. Johnson's story was just what we all needed: the facts about what happened, exactly how they happened, that terrifying day in March.
ALLISON GRIFFITHS
Omaha

Address editorial mail to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, New York, 10020.

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