Egad! You put a Denver Bronco, Rubin Carter, on your cover (Oct. 17), but you did it just before our undefeated team was to play the undefeated Oakland Raiders. All I could think of was the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED cover jinx and those Raiders beating us again. But hold on! Our 3-4 "Orange Crush" defense intercepted seven Kenny Stabler passes (one for a touchdown by Louie Wright) and recovered an Oakland fumble as Denver won 30-7. Please jinx us again. For starters you can feature our linebackers (Randy Gradishar, Joe Rizzo, Bob Swenson and Tom Jackson), who are perhaps the best four in the NFL.
Peter Gammons' preview of the 1977-78 hockey season cannot go unchallenged by Indianapolis fans. He calls Indianapolis "reject city" and says that the Racers have players that no one else wants. I can assure you that we want them.
Two years ago, as the clock, ran down and the New England Whalers eliminated the Racers in the seventh game of the playoffs by a score of 6-0, the 8,000 Indianapolis fans still in attendance gave their team a standing ovation. Do you think that would happen in New York? I doubt it. Our players may not be the most talented, but we enjoy their play and support them all the way. We averaged more than 9,000 fans last year.
LES BRANDT JR.
Why does SPORTS ILLUSTRATED continue to downgrade the World Hockey Association and refer to it as a dying minor league? According to all the reports I've read, the league is more solvent than it has been in its six-year history. It is true the WHA lost four teams in the past year. The owners have had the good sense to fold those that are unable to pay their own way, unlike the NHL, which continues to pump millions of dollars each year into its floundering franchises.
October 31, 1977
"On the ice, the WHA has also improved. In exhibition games this season against the NHL the WHA came away with a 13-6-2 record. Not bad for a minor league.
I read with disbelief Alan Eagleson's remark that there aren't more than 20 major league hockey cities in North America. Who is he trying to kid? The problem is not a lack of good hockey cities; rather, it is a growing list of cities where fans are no longer willing to pay as much as $14 more than 40 times a year to see Eagleson's overpaid clients perform. All of the current NHL and WHA cities are good hockey markets, and so are most of the cities that have lost their hockey franchises in recent years. If hockey teams were able to charge baseball-level ticket prices (which aren't so cheap anymore, either), major league hockey arenas once again would be packed.
It is no surprise that hockey is dying. It is a simple matter of suicide. In a little more than a decade the sport has grown to five or six times it's previous size, even though there is little player development in the U.S. The resulting lack of competition has made most games dull, yet ticket prices have risen. The NHL owners, choosing to ignore all this, refused to merge and consolidate with the WHA, though that would have reduced expenses and heightened competition.
At the same time, people are daily turning away from the sport because of its brutality. The recent disgraceful Bruins-Flyers brawl resulted in only minimum fines and suspensions. Does this augur another season of little punishment for mass thuggery on the ice?
Hockey will soon go the way of the Roller Derby. It need only look in the mirror to see why.
New York City
So the Yankees won it all. And what moral conclusion are we to draw from this? I suppose a lot of baseball fans will merely turn cynical: money can buy world championships just as it can buy love, happiness and friendship. The Yankees certainly seem to have disproved some, of our most cherished beliefs. There is no denying the skills of the individual Yankee players, but to call them a team is a joke.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
I'm sick and tired of hearing all the nonsense about how New York bought the championship and what a disgrace the Yankees are to baseball. The truth of the matter is that the Yankees won because they fought hard on the playing field until the end. They are champions because of an owner, George Steinbrenner, who is concerned about pleasing the fans, a manager, Billy Martin, who is the best in the business, and a bunch of hard-nosed players who came through despite the pressure put on them by the media.
WILLIAM KIMBALL JR.
How much longer is the baseball establishment going to allow frustrated offensive linemen like Hal McRae and Graig Nettles to assault defenseless infielders. I am refering to flagrantly abusive tactics during the American League playoffs in which neither of these players showed more than a passing interest in touching second base, their prime concern being to dismantle the man covering the base (A Series Full of Flip-Flops, Oct. 17). A hard, aggressive slide is one thing, but blocking and tackling have no place on a baseball field.
When Pete Rose, with elbows flying, does it, it is called hustling. When just about anyone else does it, it is called hustling. But when Hal McRae dares to do it against the mighty Yankees it is immediately called dirty. Haying watched many collisions at second base in which the runner has gone two or three feet either side of the base to make contact, I thought McRae's slide was just about perfect. The instant replay showed Randolph's foot coming off the bag as McRae, going directly over the bag, hit him. I call that hustling.
Thank you for spreading the word about the survey and report on trampoline injuries by Dr. Harvey Kravitz of the American Academy of Pediatrics (SCORECARD, Oct. 17). In 1960, at a summer camp, I broke my neck on a trampoline exactly in the manner described by Dr. Kravitz. Pure luck and a skilled surgeon at the Mayo Clinic allowed me to survive without permanent paralysis.
The dangers of the trampoline have been publicized before, but never with success. Surely, with the knowledge of this survey, any school or camp will be negligent if it allows children in its care to use a trampoline.
JOEL D. BRONSTEIN
St. Petersburg, Fla.
My aversion to this particular type of sport or exercise became intense after I had seen three vigorous young athletes suddenly transformed into vegetating paralytics as a result of all-too-common trampoline accidents.
Let's hope the report of the pediatricians will come to the attention of all the various organizations now concerned with the medical aspects of sports. Down with the trampoline!
WILLIAM J. RYAN, M.D.
New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
Certainly no one wants to see anyone seriously hurt, especially when the injury results from an activity that is supposed to provide enjoyment. But where do you stop? It is no secret that football players also suffer paralyzing—even fatal—injuries. Is it not "just plain logic" to ban that game as well? The same goes for boxing, wrestling, swimming (people drown), jogging (people get hit by cars), golf (people have heart attacks), etc. I suspect there is not one sport in which, if you looked hard enough, you couldn't find instances of participants being severely injured or killed. Do we ban all sports? Do we ban all playground equipment? Is there not an element of personal choice, personal freedom involved?
East Brunswick, N.J.
Contrary to Dr. Kravitz, I feel that with correct supervision the trampoline is a tremendous asset to any physical-education program in developing body awareness, coordination, agility, balance and many physical skills. I am, however, in favor of the certification of trampoline instructors.
The trampoline was used early in the development of our space program as a training device for astronauts. It is used as a learning aid for students with perceptual motor problems (The Slow Learner in the Classroom by Newell Carlyle Kephart). To ban the trampoline would be a great disservice to these children. The trampoline is also used by many divers and skiers to facilitate their learning of various techniques.
We know there are accidents on the trampoline, just as there are many in skiing. We do not, however, advocate a ban on skiing. We know that there is permanent paralysis and spinal-cord damage as a result of automobile accidents, yet we do not advocate the banning of cars.
I am advocating that every trampoline or gymnastics instructor be certified by the U.S. Trampoline Association and by the U.S. Gymnastics Safety Association, whose certification programs have been established with the assistance of the Red Cross, along the lines of its program for swimming instructors. I am positive that most trampoline accidents can be prevented with the implementation of these safety procedures.
U.S. Gymnastics Safety Association
East Stroudsburg, Pa.
PRESERVING THE BWCA
William Oscar Johnson's article on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (Passionate Suitors for a Wild Paradise, Oct. 10) invites comment. The real issue is our use of public land and the double standards we employ in our decision making. That the BWCA requires care is beyond doubt. But is the "incursion of commerce" problem solved by Congressman Donald Fraser's bill? Prohibiting motors in the BWCA would surely cause some businesses to fail, but it also would allow canoe outfitters to operate on the very fringes of the area. Are we being consistent in eliminating logging and some local industry, while allowing other industries to profit from the use of the area?
Moreover, the majority of visitors to the BWCA travel by rented canoe, so the exclusion of all outboard motors and snowmobiles can hardly solve the largest problem, which is too many people. The biggest changes visible to me since my first visits there more than 20 years ago are the greatly increased numbers of people who go into the area and the damage they cause. It has reached the point where the use of the words "wilderness," "pristine" and "untouched" becomes questionable. On a single day's journey up the Knife Lake chain recently, I counted more than 100 canoes.
Rush City, Minn.
As a native Minnesotan and a professional forester, I was both encouraged and angered by your article on the BWCA controversy. As complex as the issue is, with both sides having legitimate arguments, it seems ironic to me that a subcommittee in Washington, with a Californian as its head, will decide the fate of this beautiful area. Why not let the people of Minnesota decide?
Obviously, Congressman James L. Oberstar has never bathed under a waterfall or dipped his cup to drink crystal clear water from a lake. Or turned his head to watch an eagle soar. Or gotten high on a sunset. And when was the last time he saw a midnight sky so full of stars and northern lights that he forgot to go to sleep?
When you visit a place like the BWCA, you realize that it is a national, not a local resource, and that it is part of an international wilderness sanctuary. Whatever wilderness there is on this earth right now is priceless. If it is lost, it can never be replaced.
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