I was more upset than surprised by Kent Hannon's article about the recruiting of Albert King (Everybody Is Courting the King, Feb. 7). It is certainly not Albert or his considerable talents that bother me, but rather the way in which he is being treated by representatives of institutions of higher learning. I do not live in a dream world of pure academics, nor do I wish to. I relish sports and honestly believe that intercollegiate athletics are of great importance to the life of both student and school. But when college coaches take such disproportionate views of their roles that the enrollment of one student becomes "crucial," athletics become detrimental to all. Nor should anyone put the burden of a high national ranking, or, worse yet, a berth in the NCAA finals, on the shoulders of one player. Although he has considerable skills, King is, above all, a person who enjoys playing a game. He obviously hopes to continue enjoying that game in a college atmosphere, but under the present system that appears unlikely. He seems destined to be a basketball commodity rather than a student.
The decision as to which school King will attend should be "crucial" only to him. I wish him the best of luck and hope that pressure-cooker recruiting techniques will not ruin his college experience either on or off the court.
St. Michaels, Md.
Having witnessed numerous times the magical play of Albert King, I can understand why college recruiters are panting, drooling and praying for his services. No matter what college he attends, though, it is the basketball fan who will benefit most. When King realizes his full potential, only superlatives will suffice.
ROBERTO GOTAY JR.
I enjoyed the story on Albert King, who, according to your article, is the most sought-after high school basketball player in the country. However, here in Philadelphia we have a fellow by the name of Gene Banks at West Philadelphia High School, who, in my opinion and that of many others, is the best basketball player in the city since Wilt Chamberlain.
Z. JOHN KARPYN
February 21, 1977
•Banks has announced that he intends to enroll at Duke this fall.—ED.
Your short item entitled "Perspective" (SCORECARD, Jan. 31) is perhaps the most profound commentary on the state of American college sport I have ever seen. Despite the fact that the situation at George Washington University was dealt with good-naturedly by Coach Bob Tallent, it remains all too true that the modern college athlete must often be forced to choose beween a collegiate career in sports, which might or might not lead to short-lived glory in the pro ranks, and an education that can prepare a person for a lifetime of meaningful service to others, to family and to self. Unfortunately, the two are often mutually exclusive, especially at major schools.
My choice was fairly easy. Although I had enjoyed some minor recognition as a high school basketball player in northwestern Illinois, my potential in basketball at Illinois Wesleyan University was far short of anything deserving attention. Therefore, it was not exceedingly painful for me to put down the ball and concentrate on my major goal, law school. But what is to happen in the cases of fellows like George Washington's Mike Zagardo, the pre-med major? The rewards of athletic competition are many, but professional schools, especially those of medicine, are becoming harder to get into every year. How many times in the past were we, and how many more times in the future will we be, forced by the structure of major-college sports to trade skilled physicians, lawyers and engineers for second-string journeymen pros, and when will we awaken and do something about it?
FRANK C. MAGILL
Thank you for paying tribute to Don Buse, a man whom we Hoosiers have long known to be one of the three finest guards in all of basketball (No Boo-Boos for Boo Boo, Feb. 7). It seems to me, however, that when a man of Boo's ability does not make the All-Star team, while Dan Issel is voted a starter, the fans have horribly abused their voting privilege. I suggest that we give the balloting back to the sportswriters, coaches and players.
We welcomed your coverage of the Fargo Street Hill Climb (This Sport Is Not on the Level, Feb. 7). The event is one of the more colorful, challenging and rewarding non-racing cycling happenings in our area.
Worth noting is that while 60-plus single bicycles have made it over the top to date, only two tandems have done so. My wife and I are pleased to be the only tandem couple to conquer Fargo with a street-ready bike. (The other tandem, the one mentioned in your article, was specially prepared and trucked to the hill.) We rode our Jack Taylor tandem to the hill climb and up the hill on that now famous Sunday in 1974 when the Los Angeles Wheelmen held their first Fargo Street ride.
A historical note on Fargo Street is that, before the Glendale Freeway went in, Fargo was about 100 yards longer. Some Fargo Street residents say that the only man ever to ride a bicycle up the old, longer Fargo was John Landy, the famous Australian miler, who was in L.A. for a track meet, spotted Fargo while out for a training run and later climbed it on a borrowed 10-speed.
PHIL AND SUE NORTON
I am sure I would not have appreciated Sarah Pileggi's article if I had not by chance ridden up a 100-foot hill in Seattle on a borrowed bicycle over Christmas. Murder! Those guys have got to be tough.
More to the point, this is an excellent article on an unusual subject.
I certainly enjoyed your story about Guy Lafleur and Steve Shutt of the Montreal Canadiens (On the Whole, It's the Donut Line, Feb. 7). As I see it, this article should tell SI readers two things: 1) the real Big Red Machine plays its home games at the Montreal Forum, not in Riverfront Stadium, and 2) the most valuable flower person in sports is not named Pete Rose. But then, Canadiens fans have known these facts for some time. It is an open and Shutt case.
Bravo! That was a fantastic article on Guy Lafleur and Steve Shutt. Lafleur, the NHL scoring leader last season, and Shutt, who has more than 80 goals over the last 1½ seasons, deserve to be recognized. Now, how about some recognition for the Los Angeles Kings' dynamo, Marcel Dionne? Currently Dionne is vying for the scoring lead despite his size (5'9", 170 pounds) and the fact that he plays on a much less talented team, with no Shutt or Jacques Lamaire or Pete Mahovlich to pass to or get passes from.
I enjoyed Pat Putnam's article No Heels in the Achilles (Feb. 7), having skated left wing for Union College in the dim past. But I must advise you that it was World War II that broke up the team, not an early thaw in 1939 as reported. The devastating thaw came in 1948-49 when an attempt was being made to revive the team after the war.
In my freshman year (1940) we skated a full schedule, while the varsity took on the major teams in the East. We participated in the Lake Placid invitationals during Christmas vacations up until 1941, skating against St. Lawrence, Princeton, Cornell, Williams. Middlebury, MIT and others. In a major upset in the 1941-42 season, our team beat powerful Army on its own oversized rink. But war came and most of us went off to fight for our country. Some did not come back. Dudley Holmes, '41, captain and goalie of both hockey and lacrosse, went down in his plane, ditching in the Atlantic to avoid possible civilian casualties, after ordering his crew to bail out. Union now has Ned Harkness, a new rink and a dazzling record; but way back then little (enrollment under 900) Union's hockey team also left its mark.
STEPHEN G. CLARKE
Class of '44
Hurrah for college hockey! I was a student at RPI when Ned Harkness was the hockey and lacrosse coach there. We loved him, because he used student athletes who were taking the same engineering and science courses as the rest of us and put RPI on the college athletic map. Although we were sorry to see him leave, I'm sure that all RPI alumni who knew Harkness wish him well at Union—except when RPI meets Union in hockey.
Silver Spring, Md.
Your article The Care and Feeding of a Trout Stream (Jan. 31) should be required reading for all fly-fishing enthusiasts. It not only shows the enormous amount of time, thought and effort that have been spent to keep Pennsylvania's famed Letort viable despite the onslaught of "progress," but it also gives an insight into the personality of a pioneer in the establishment of wild trout fisheries and stream conservation, Charles K. Fox. I have fished the Letort vicariously many times. Another article like this one and I might have to pack up my flies, close my office and make the trip to Carlisle for the real thing.
PETER C. RYAN
Jerry Kirshenbaum is to be commended for his excellent story On the Other Hand (Jan. 24). Being an unloved lefty, I can readily identify with the difficulties described. I was a pretty good catcher in my Little League days, but after that no coach ever gave me a chance, simply because I was left-handed. A left-handed catcher does have a few problems trying to throw out a runner at second with a right-handed hitter at bat, but these aren't any greater than those of a right-handed catcher with a left-handed batter. In fact, a left-handed catcher has an advantage over his right-handed counterpart: the lefty can make a quicker pick-off throw to first base, because he doesn't have to shift his feet in order to throw.
I am a left-handed golfer (four handicap) who had to teach himself from books written by righthanders. The translation of golfs mechanics into a lefthander's terms is rough, to say the least.
During 10 years of playing golf around the South, Southwest and Colorado, I have met quite a few lefties. It has been my observation that there is a higher percentage of lefties than righties with near-scratch handicaps. I have also found that the lefty hacker has an advantage since courses laid out by righthanders usually put traps and trouble to the right, to catch the righthander's slice. And whenever the doglegs break left, they favor the lefty's slice.
There are more left-handed shooters in the National Hockey League than righthanders, and alongside the names of many NHL greats appears the telltale phrase "shoots left." The cast of sinistrals includes Bobby Orr, Bobby Clarke, Bobby Hull and Phil Esposito. Of the 24 forwards chosen for this year's All-Star team, 15 shoot left-handed. Among the 12 defensemen, 11 shoot left. Considering this abundance of portside shooters, perhaps we should look to the NHL as the lefthanders' haven of the future.
New Canaan, Conn.
I heartily agree with Jerry Kirshenbaum that southpaws are in a class by themselves. Being one of the fortunate few, and proud of it, I would like to know if Kirshenbaum is left-handed.
St. Marys, Pa.
•Kirshenbaum is a righty. But Senior Editor Walt Bingham, whose idea the story was, and Senior Editor Bob Ottum, who nursed it along, are lefties.—ED.
TENNIS ON ICE
I am writing in regard to the suggestion in SCORECARD (Jan. 10) that the Russians were the first to play tennis on ice, with skates. My family has been playing tennis on the frozen pond at our farm for the past two winters. In our tournament, no Russian has yet reached the quarterfinals.
I believe the Russians will have to backdate any claim to have invented tennis on ice by about 25 years, if they want to make it stand up. Tennis was played on ice—without skates—by Pancho Segura, Jack Kenney, Ricardo Balbiers and Igor Cassini in Franconia, N.H. in 1952. I did not witness the game but am quite sure it was played with standard equipment.
EDWIN F. ESTLE
In 1940, as the winter sports director of Grossinger's in the Catskills. I challenged Eli Epstein, our tennis pro, who taught many leading U.S. players, to a tennis match on ice skates. The exhibition was seen by a thousand guests and used in newsreels and on TV internationally.
National Winter Sports Association
•Jaffee, a speedskater, won three Olympic-gold medals for the U.S.; one in 1928 in the 10,000-meter event and two in 1932 in the 5,000 and 10,000.—ED.
Members of the Longview Tennis Club of Duluth scheduled two men's singles matches as part of a New Year's Eve party for Dec. 31, 1928 and a men's doubles match for the following New Year's Day. All three matches were played under less than ideal conditions. Temperatures were sub-zero, so players were clothed in bulky attire and their feet were cold, despite numerous layers of socks worn inside their skates. The ice was so smooth that there was little friction between the ball and the playing surface. Consequently, the ball did not bounce, but slid on the ice, making returns very difficult, and because in every case the players were well filled with "anti-freeze," their reactions were sluggish at best.
Nonetheless, the Russians must go back to the drawing boards. Once again, the U.S. got there first.
JOHN H. MCCARTHY
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