HITS VS. RUNS
I could not believe my eyes when I saw the cover of your Oct. 30 issue. The Yankees won the World Series, there were big upsets in pro football and you chose to feature a marathon! How many people do you think are interested in that kind of stuff? I am disappointed in you.
Woodland Hills, Calif.
I could not have been more pleased with your cover on the New York City Marathon, and Kenny Moore's chronicle of Bill Rodgers' glorious triumph (All Around the Town). Perhaps it's a bit premature, but if you can find a more deserving Sportsman of the Year than Rodgers. I'll eat my Etonics.
BRUCE G. HEAREY
New York City
The competition for SI's 1978 Sportsman of the Year award will undoubtedly be intense. Our candidate's credentials may not match those of any other nominees, but his spirit and desire are worthy of the admiration of all sports fans. Why not present the award to Jim Bouton, the man who captured our hearts in 1978?
Mario Andretti beat the world!
November 13, 1978
THE NORTHWESTERN APPROACH
Jerry Kirshenbaum's article on my favorite college football team, the Northwestern Wildcats (Waa-Mu! Waa-Who? Oct. 30), was like a drink of water to a thirsty man. After reading so many negative stories about the 'Cats, it was a treat to find one expressing a little optimism. The team works hard and deserves encouragement and faith.
I read your article the day after I watched Northwestern play Ohio State. Following the game, I embraced my son—a Northwestern linebacker—whose eyes were still red from tears of pain, fatigue and frustration shed following another gutsy, unrelenting fight-to-the-last effort by him and his underdog teammates.
Ohio State Coach Woody Hayes was generous in his praise of Northwestern's refusal to give up. I am amazed that your article didn't give more credit to the athletes who represent Northwestern. Virtually all of them had opportunities to accept athletic scholarships to schools more noted for their football prowess. They chose Northwestern because they were interested in a good education and in playing major college football. They knew the path to glory would be a struggle, that they would be underdogs, but they would try to change that. It takes far more courage to accept that role than to drift comfortably to a football powerhouse. Week after week this team continues to display the kind of character that makes me proud to be a Northwestern fan.
NORBERT R. BERG
As the mother of a trumpet player in the marching band, I must take exception to your dismissal of the band in one sentence. Indeed, the band, twirler and cheerleaders provide the brightest moments in the stadium.
My husband and I attended the game against Minnesota—it was Parents' Weekend—and the halftime show included a tribute to Northwestern's winning Rose Bowl team of 1949. The theme was "Vanishing Traditions." In any case, the music provided to spur the team on is marvelous. As one student seated behind us said at the end of the show, "Get those football players off the field and suit up the band!"
If Coach Rick Venturi deserves credit for taking on a losing cause, John Paynter, director of Northwestern bands for 28 years, should receive a large bouquet for firing up the band every week in first-class support of that cause.
I lived in Evanston at about the time Jerry Kirshenbaum was a student at Northwestern. Ara Parsegian was a super coach. He maximized his talent to such a degree that Wildcat fans began to believe NU really belonged in the Big Ten. Subsequent events have proved otherwise. The Northwestern philosophy is out of sync with reality. NU should drop competitive athletics or go into a small-college conference. The status of Big Ten football has never been lower. The Big Eight, Southeastern, Southwest and Pac-10 conferences have all surpassed the Big Ten. Schools like Northwestern have no business playing football powers. Let's save what is left of a beautiful Big Ten memory and gel with it, before the conference falls into football oblivion.
San Jose, Calif.
Bravo, Northwestern! Leave professional football to the NFL and keep college athletics as a college activity for the benefit of students. NU athletes are the real winners in the Big Ten, regardless of what it says on the scoreboard.
I say a big "Amen" to Red Blaik's appraisal of your series on football brutality (19TH HOLE. Oct. 23). He summed it up best when he said, "Football is not a dainty game."
As a high school sophomore, I can tell you only what my coaches teach me—be tough, and be alert. We don't punch our opponents or spear them when they're down, but we do hit hard before they do it to us. We pursue and gang tackle and, yes, John Underwood, we hit the quarterback, too. If the quarterback is someone who can't be hit, then he shouldn't be playing. Football is not a game for sissies. Thanks, Red, for hitting the nail on the head.
On Oct. 15, when I saw Minnesota Quarterback Tommy Kramer's limbs twitching like a clean-killed buck's after that legal hit late in the Los Angeles game, I felt genuine nausea at being witness and perhaps silent party to such an act, however unintentional, of human degradation. Those coaches and players—quarterbacks among them—who insist that the passer can't be further protected without changing the game are only another illustration that the world is run by a C-level mentality. What they can't see is that the game is going to change whether they like it or not. In football as in all other endeavors, when something doesn't work, something new is devised.
The Indiana soccer team has no "secret," as you claimed in your article Hot Foot for the Hoosiers (Oct. 23). Hoosier Coach Jerry Yeagley and others, through their presence on the NCAA rules committee, have allowed the repeated substitution of several players during a game. What they have done, in effect, is to invent a new game that is foreign to the rest of the soccer-playing world.
The idea of soccer is that 11 well-conditioned men—with only a couple of substitutions—play 90 minutes of a game of tactics. By allowing seven substitutions, we Americans have invented a game called "90 miles an hour for 90 minutes" (to quote Coach Eddie Firmani of the Cosmos), which allows less talented and less capable players to compete because they can run at you for a short period and then be replaced by others who continue to do the same. This new game more closely resembles lacrosse and ice hockey than it does soccer.
We aren't doing our young men any favors by teaching them the soccer that we are playing in college, because when they compete with the rest of the world they will find out that they are indeed lacking.
In addition, I beg to differ with St. Louis Coach Harry Keough's statement that no team has ever beaten the Billikens three times in a row in season play. Clemson defeated St. Louis 2-1 in 1975, 3-1 in 1976 and 3-1 in 1977, all in regular-season play.
I. M. IBRAHIM
Head Soccer Coach
DOG PACKS (CONT.)
I have seldom, if ever, read such a brutal story as Horror in a High Country (Oct. 23) or one from such a biased viewpoint—that of the human hunter. What was the reason for publishing such a violent and disturbing piece of fiction? Was it to illustrate how pet dogs running in a pack can revert to savagery? This is unfortunately true, but the protagonist is even more savage because he is a killer by choice, not by instinct, and thus his killing is even more reprehensible than that done by the dogs.
The storyteller's belated and somewhat suspect awareness of the right of the sheep and the deer to survive is hard to believe, because he mentions shooting does in spring and killing other wild animals. But suddenly he is the savior of this particular doe, which could well have been his victim another time.
Let the hunting magazines publish such macho and one-sided stories glorifying man, the hunter and worst predator of all. We expect a better class of articles—true or fictional—in the pages of SI.
I've just read Jack Curtis' story, and now I cannot sleep without expressing my feelings. Frankly, I was shocked! As I read it, I dreaded the outcome, but did not really believe that Harry would go through with the killing of the dogs. Up to the last column, I hoped for some miraculous solution.
Here in Vermont, we have similar conditions. Thousands of family farms, no longer operating, have been sold for fabulous sums to city people ("down-country out-of-stat-ers") who use them for second homes. All of them post their lands, yet all have pets running wild—cats after birds and dogs after deer. Not one would ever admit that his pet would harm a living thing—at times domestic fowl and sheep as well as wild game. But the word gets around. If the offending pets are not caught by the game wardens, local hunters give the coup de gr‚Äö√†√∂¬¨¢ce.
The worst of it is that the dogs are not to blame; they are simply obeying an atavistic impulse and having a ball. Their owners are the ones who deserve punishment for exhibiting callous indifference and a lack of restraint. As the owner of a deer-running collie-shepherd, I know whereof I speak. When the game warden first told me that Smoky was suspected, I couldn't believe it. But when, a week or so later, Smoky trotted across the pasture, dead tired and bloody-lipped, I did what I had to do. So I agonized with Harry, but what else could he do?
As a priest and an attorney, I find the story objectionable. Its underlying philosophy is, "If you don't like something, or feel frustrated, take the law into your own hands."
The common law and its system of money damages was instituted to keep the king's peace, in other words, as a substitute for fighting. On this, a society based on laws, not strength and cunning, came into being.
The alternative to law, eventually, is mob rule, and then anarchy, where might, not right, prevails.
The California statutes provide remedies for killed stock or game, but nowhere in the story is there any mention that the narrator appealed to the authorities or sought relief in the courts. This reflects either a lack of research by Jack Curtis, or an espousal of the principle that one is justified in taking the law into one's own hands. I might add that the California statutes also provide penalties for killing dogs, as well as other domestic animals.
(THE REV.) LAWRENCE IRWIN FERGUSON
It was bad enough when you didn't give Seattle's Jim Zorn credit for a great day against Oakland (FOR THE RECORD, Oct. 30), but to say Oakland lost 27-7 to the Mariners—now, that is news! The Mariners play baseball. It was the Seahawks who beat the Raiders.
You had best stay on your toes, or we may not invite you to the Super Bowl.
Address editorial mail to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, New York, 10020.