Thanks to J. D. Reed's amusing article concerning our national anthem's place in sports (Gallantly Screaming, Jan. 3), I found out that I have an unpatriotic dog. Inspired while reading the story, I broke into a hearty rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner. I was belting out the last few bars when my one-year-old miniature schnauzer broke into a fiendish wail. Maybe it was just her way of saying "Play Ball!"
Bravo! It is high time someone did an article on this sporting catastrophe. Every day of every sports season, The Banner is subjected to lyrical blasphemy and outright hatred. I think this musical nightmare should be excluded from our arenas and ball parks forever.
Chapel Hill, N.C.
The Star-Spangled Banner has lost most of its meaning for me. Because of constant repetition it has grown into something that must be endured, not enjoyed. We stand at attention out of habit, not to display our patriotism. This is not to say that The Banner always goes unnoticed. The shortened version played at the Montreal Olympics after an American triumph is my fondest memory of The Banner. The ritual playing of our national anthem before sports events takes away from special moments like this.
Showing disrespect for the national anthem at a sports event is a shame and a disgrace to our great country. I get a shiver every time I hear the song. I'm convinced that the anthem carries with it a certain amount of magic. Anyone who can't stand still for 90 seconds to show respect for our nation doesn't deserve to call himself an American.
STEVE J. GUNN
Twin Lake, Mich.
January 17, 1977
The Star-Spangled Banner should remain our national anthem and be played before every sports event.
Mount Pleasant, Pa.
I was surprised to learn that The Star-Spangled Banner lasts 90 seconds. Most of my Banner experience has come at Notre Dame basketball games. The pep band there has a 63-second version that Indiana Pacer Coach Bobby Leonard would just love.
W. R. DODD
My brother and I play a paddle ball game in our backyard. After each hard-fought match, we play a tape recording of the anthem. The winner of the match stands up on a step and raises his paddle in ecstasy. The loser stands at lower level, but still shows respect. I have never won this game, and I am anxious for the summer to come so that I can win and stand tall and proud for my country. I try to picture it: the sun shining, me standing on the step, the anthem blaring away and the neighbors staring in disbelief.
Regarding your reference to the good fortunes of the Philadelphia Flyers when Kate Smith sings God Bless America before the game, I'd like to add that Kate's recording has been used once so far this season, after the team returned from a poor road trip with a 7-6-3 record. The Flyers beat the Vancouver Canucks 6-4 that night, starting an unbeaten streak that has been interrupted by only two losses in 26 games. Kate's magic lives!
Louis C. SCHEINFELD
Apparently J. D. Reed has never heard Kathy Krems, the young "Sweetheart of Candlestick Park," but he will someday. Kathy, an 18-year-old coloratura soprano and the daughter of Lou Krems (business manager of the National League), has been thrilling San Francisco Giant fans for the past two seasons with her fantastic rendition of the national anthem. Also, she would have sung it at the 1976 World Series if the Phillies had been in it. Kathy is enrolled at the University of Southern California, where she is a freshman majoring in voice, and hopes to be an outstanding opera singer someday.
Walnut Creek, Calif.
Consider the experience of North Texas State Offensive Tackle Gary Smith. A voice student, Smith delivered a stirring, resonant rendition of the anthem before a near-capacity homecoming crowd in 1975, his sophomore season, and the fans were moved to a prolonged ovation. Moments later, on the first series of plays, Smith was knocked senseless and had to miss the rest of the game. He has not sung the anthem or missed a game since.
The Dallas Morning News
Who will ever forget the Vietnam war hero standing at attention in the center of the Orange Bowl as Anita Bryant sang The Star-Spangled Banner? Heck, I missed the whole first quarter trying to dry my tears.
I have a particular favorite, Orlando (Fla.) Sports Stadium ring announcer Jim Hayes, who stands up on the balls of his feet and belts out one verse of The Banner—without any music. He performs as well as anyone I have ever heard. On occasions, he's better than the fights.
FRANK J. SHERAKO
Satellite Beach, Fla.
Steve Cauthen is good (That Baby Face Will Fool You, Jan. 3). I know. I saw him win four races one day. But let's not call him a Shoemaker—not yet, anyway.
New York City
Thank you for using my favorite professional basketball team, the Milwaukee Bucks, as the subject of your article on the rigors of NBA travel (One More for the Road, Jan. 3). At least now you have documented that the Bucks are alive and well, probably in a holding pattern over some airport, despite their horrendous 4-25 start this season.
ERIC E. JAKEL
Congratulations to John Papanek and Walter Iooss Jr. Iooss' photographs captured all the emotions of a team on the road, while Papanek's story was a revealing report of what goes on during a road trip. This used to be one side of professional sports that the fan knew nothing about. Thanks to your superb article, fans may now realize that the life of a pro basketball player is not always as simple and exciting as it seems to be.
My heart goes out to the Bucks and their compatriots in the NBA for their 80 days of suffering for a six-figure salary and $25 a day spending money when traveling. The sacrifices a man must make! Life is tough.
GEORGE D. THEODORAKOS
GITCHI GAMI GAMES
Congratulations on a fine article about cross-country skiing, one of the fastest growing winter sports in North America (A Wise Man and His Gift, Jan. 3). The work of Telemark's Tony Wise in creating the "American Cup" will go a long way to spread the word about the sport many of us love.
DAVID W. ALVORD
I have had the opportunity to ski on a number of the cross-country trails at Tele-mark and also watched the Gitchi Gami Games. Tony Wise deserves all the praise he gets and more.
Hats off to William Leggett on his selections for his annual awards for sports broadcasting (TV/RADIO, Dec. 20-27). I would like to add three categories: 1) Worst Athlete-Turned-Announcer: Don Meredith, who in switching from ABC to NBC went from bad to worse; 2) Best Pairing of Announcers for a Sports Event: Pat Summerall and Tom Brook-shier for NFL football on CBS; and 3) Worst Color Man for a Sports Event: Alex Hawkins (CBS), who seems to think that every player he sees is the best at his position.
Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier have to be the worst sportscasters on TV. They should take lessons from Curt Gowdy and Don Meredith, the best.
William Leggett's selections were great, but I cannot understand how he could have left out of his Top 10 Game 5 of the NBA championship between the Phoenix Suns and the Boston Celtics. It was the most exciting sports event I have ever seen and probably ever will see.
Yorktown Heights, N.Y.
I agree with William Leggett that the Best Coverage of a Single Event was ABC's telecast of the Winter Olympic Games. Other awards Leggett hit on the head were Worst Coverage of a Major Sport (ABC's Monday Night Baseball) and Most Overexposed (Nadia Comaneci).
JEFFREY J. TAWNEY
Dunbar, W. Va.
How about these? Revolving Door Award: to Muhammad Ali, for his "permanent" retirements. Best Dressed Announcer: Lindsey Nelson, for his colorful jackets. Best Rookie Announcer: Emerson Boozer, for being intelligent. Most Concerned Announcer: "As far as I'm concerned" Alex Karras.
WILLIAM HENRY SETHINGTON
It is nice to see a forum for the citing of those who excel in the sports broadcasting field, whether on the air or behind the scenes. Also, I agree that tennis ratings could "get zapped" by the oversaturation of the sport on television. When one can flip stations' and come up with three Chris Everts playing three different opponents, tennis is oversaturated.
However, there was a misleading statement in the article that bears pointing up, if only to show that good tennis can succeed on TV and should not carelessly be lumped with the bad. In the "Bet You Can't Name the Sport and the Winners of These Events" category, Leggett lists the Volvo Classic, a tourney held annually in North Conway, N.H. The 1976 Volvo final was not televised, as he implies. North Conway was plagued by a weekend of rain and, to accommodate the finalists who needed to move on to the next week's tournaments, the matches were played indoors with a national audience totaling somewhere in the tens or twenties. Moreover, the final of the Volvo pitted Jimmy Connors against Raul Ramirez, Connors' conqueror in a bitter Davis Cup match early last year. Their three-set battle would have been a highlight of the tennis-viewing season, especially with the competent Jack Whitaker scheduled to do the announcing.
Sheila Young and the "turn of the century Dutchman" Jaap Eden may have been the only two athletes to hold simultaneous world championships (Sportswoman of the Year, Dec. 20-27), but I'll bet my Fred Perry tennis shorts that England's Frederick J. Perry held the world table tennis title in 1929, before his Wimbledon championships of 1934-36. Another who comes to mind is Perry's countrywoman, Ann Haydon Jones, who came within one missed backhand of also accomplishing this feat. A Wimbledon winner in 1969, Jones lost the 1957 world table tennis title 21-19 in the fifth game.
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