Exotic betting on horse races (exactas, perfectas, etc.) has finally taken its toll (Racing's Big Scandal, Nov. 6). Eliminate all but win, place and show betting and the venerable daily double and you eliminate the breeding grounds for a Tony Ciulla.
Drugging is tougher to deal with, but reliable prerace testing would be a great start.
Add permanent banishment from racing in the U.S. for those jockeys who are convicted of pulling horses.
I am a former owner, and my heart is still in the game. If racing doesn't clean up its own act, a solution will be forced upon us. And everyone knows how reasonable, workable and inexpensive government control and regulations turn out to be.
Eureka, S. Dak.
November 20, 1978
I put myself through college and law school by working around racetracks in four different states. I have been privileged to work for and with numerous principled and dedicated individuals in all facets of the game. It is for them I feel sympathy over SI's excavations through the detritus of one Tony Ciulla.
While direct responsibility for the scandal lies with the participants, I think that some measure of blame falls on track officials who have, in the last few years, loaded their racing cards with ever-increasing numbers of multiple wagering gimmicks, almost completely destroying the nature of the game. Now people bet numbers instead of picking individual horses.
If the racing industry is serious about restoring respect and integrity to a great sport, it should voluntarily eliminate the prime source of temptation: gimmick betting. The benefits of increased public confidence in racing will far outweigh any losses in the pari-mutuel handle.
Why did you waste time putting a story like that in your magazine? Does the public care about races that were fixed years ago? I do not and I have been betting for a few years. The last thing on my mind is fixed races. If those guys want to ruin a career for a lousy bribe, let them go ahead. As long as I win when I wager, that's all that matters to me. In the future, SI, pass up articles like this one, O.K.?
I can only ask what took the state and federal authorities so long to begin an investigation into thoroughbred race fixing.
It is time that an article of this nature was published, and I applaud the writer's and the editors' courage in going ahead with it. I hope that SI will pursue this cause with no less vigor than it has pursued environmental causes over the past decade.
I doubt if we will get any definitive answers on this side of the veil, but I consider Bill Surface to be presenting, at last and at least, the right questions. I thank you all.
BARRY N. MALZBERG
As a longtime New York Yankee fan, I found E. M. Swift's article Rose Might Not Be Red Anymore (Nov. 6) very interesting. Certainly, Pete Rose is a great player and has done a lot for baseball, but at 37 how many more great seasons does he have?
As for Rose's lack of enthusiasm at the thought of playing with the Yankees, is it any wonder? Could Rose take a job away from Roy White or Lou Piniella in left, or from Chris Chambliss at first? I doubt very much that he could replace Reggie Jackson as a designated hitter. As for third base, maybe George Steinbrenner would sign Rose to carry Graig Nettles' glove out to him at the start of each inning! No, the Yankees don't need Rose, and I wonder how many other clubs really need him?
Granted, Pete Rose is one of the finest baseball players of our time, but his avarice fills us with utter disgust. His attitude exemplifies the selfish and unsportsmanlike conduct that seems so predominant in sports today. Given Rose's proclivity for money in large sums, we feel only George Steinbrenner can save him. Steinbrenner has the financial means to obtain Rose, and Rose would add an invaluable link to that team of prima donnas known as the Yankees.
PETER R. KENDRICK
PATRICK J. SHANAHAN
I sincerely hope Rose will not "be Red anymore," especially if he is thinking of wearing a Phillies uniform next year. It was bad enough to see him pictured in your article with a Phillies cap on his big head.
New York City
Just once I wish some superstar professional athlete, with tons of publicity and national exposure, would respond to an owner's overly generous contract offer by saying, "No thanks. The salary I received last year was more than enough for me to provide my family with comfort and the few luxuries they asked for. A cost of living increase would be plenty." Alas, what a crazy dream!
I urge Cincinnati not to give in to Pete Rose. In fact, it would be great if no team offered Rose the extraordinary amounts of money that he expects. Then maybe he and other "superstars" will get the message that the sky is not the limit.
We, the staff of St. Anthony's Youth Center in Easton, Pa., the Home of Larry Holmes, wish to congratulate Pat Putnam on a fine article on our champion (Don't Hate 'Em, Just Hit 'Em, Nov. 6). In our opinion, the story revealed the truth. It is common for even a passing acquaintance to say that Larry is a beautiful person, and we can verify that sentiment from our day-to-day experiences with him. Never let it be said that Holmes is a spoiled athlete, for nothing could be further from the truth. The setbacks, the long days of training at St. Anthony's during an uphill battle and a lack of formidable opponents couldn't stop Larry from pursuing his goal. We all knew he would one day be the heavyweight champion. With that in mind, you can imagine the bedlam in Easton on the night of June 9 when he beat Ken Norton.
Fans unfamiliar with Larry might be interested to know that he proves his loyalty to his hometown by maintaining his "between-fights" training facility at St. Anthony's—the place where it all began.
I think it's about time Dan Jenkins woke up (Starr Has a New Bunch of Stars, Nov. 6). Upon reading a line like the one about Chester Marcol's field goal enabling Bart Stan's "new and improved team to escape the humility of a loss to Tampa Bay," one has to wonder where Jenkins has been the last nine weeks. The Buccaneers have a respectable 4-5 record at this writing, with victories over playoff contenders Minnesota and Atlanta. The Bucs are no longer the expansion patsies of two years ago, and of their five losses, none has been lopsided. The Bucs' stingy defense, led by Lee Roy Selmon, held Walter Payton to 34 yards on 15 carries a couple of weeks ago.
Staten Island, N.Y.
My thanks to John Herrera, administrative assistant of the Oakland Raiders, for his interpretation of what he sees in game films (19TH HOLE, NOV. 6). However, making judgment calls during actual play is slightly more difficult than making them in a screening room. Perhaps he could edit and splice the Raiders' films into a feature-length movie and call it Our Undefeated Season.
Wouldn't his energies be better directed toward advocation of instant replay as an aid to officials, rather than toward after-the-fact sour grapes? Fans watching the games are not fools. They see the instant replays and can use their own judgment on the accuracy of officiating and on the sportsmanship and integrity of the athletes.
NORTHWESTERN VS. MICHIGAN
As an alumnus of Michigan ('75), I feel compelled to comment on several statements made by Jerry Kirshenbaum in his article on Northwestern (Waa-Mu! Wha Who? Oct. 30). Northwestern is a fine educational institution, yet the article implies that such academic quality is a rarity in Big Ten schools and among other universities with successful athletic programs. Recent unbiased surveys have rated Michigan's academic programs, particularly its graduate and professional schools, high in the top 10 among American universities.
More appalling, however, is the pretentiousness of Northwestern President Robert Strotz, who criticizes Michigan's athletic department for attempting to make a profit, and succeeding. Strotz and his athletic department, however, do not wish to depart from the Big Ten for fear of loss of revenue from athletic events, nor do they object to subsidizing the athletic department's annual $1 million deficit by tapping the university's other funds. Sheer folly!
While Strotz contends that college athletics should be an activity for students, Michigan's football players earn enough revenue for the university to support the finest intramural athletic program at any university, which benefits every member of the Michigan academic community. More important, it allows academic funds to be used for academic purposes.
So, who is Strotz attempting to fool? With proper and intelligent management, it is possible to run a successful athletic program while maintaining academic excellence.
Strotz' criticism of the University of Michigan football program brings out the true problem of Northwestern football—ineptitude. Strotz implies that his university is the only one in the Big Ten with scholastic quality. I would put Michigan's fine medical programs against Northwestern's fine theatrical programs any day. And Michigan's student athletes are among the best in the nation. As for Michigan's list of grads, how about a President of the United States (Gerald R. Ford), an astronaut (James A. McDivitt), and one of the commentators on 60 Minutes (Mike Wallace), to mention a few?
•Kirshenbaum chooses to straddle the fence on this argument. He was born and raised in Benton Harbor, Mich., earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism at Northwestern and a master's degree in political science at Michigan.—ED.
We hold the opposite view from Jim Kaplan's about scoring in racquetball (VIEWPOINT, Nov. 6). As in handball, the most excitement in racquetball is generated by the struggle for the last few points, the excitement being heightened with each exchange of serve (with or without a change in score). Fifty years as a spectator and player of racquet games have given me a wholesome respect for our scoring rules.
Rallies can be brief when the competition is uneven. But when both competitors are skilled, I have seen breathtaking rallies. Kaplan himself has seen them.
Our on-court behavior does warrant some criticism. However, we have made remarkable strides, and we intend to make more. But I don't wholly agree that players should be penalized for expressing their emotions. Within certain limits, this is a vital part of any game, and by capturing these emotions television will make racquetball a standard living room feature in the near future.
The "lords of racquetball" have done many things besides train referees. More than 1,000 new racquetball facilities and eight million players in the last 10 years are pretty good evidence of our leadership.
As for Charlie Brumfield, he speaks only for Charlie Brumfield. We speak for the players. The majority like the sport just the way it is.
As for ticket prices, we continue to play to full galleries at virtually every tour stop, including the national championships. If racquetball in its present form isn't fit for spectator viewing, how is that possible?
U.S. Racquetball Association
If anything, Jim Kaplan is too restrained in his criticism of many racquetball stars. The officials who permit unpleasant behavior are letting the game down.
He exaggerates a bit in complaining about the brevity of rallies. In some cases, there are more strokes in a racquetball rally than in a tennis rally. However, we should try to find ways to keep the ball in play longer.
But Kaplan wants to tinker with the scoring, and there he has his feet in the tar pit. The reason tension is high on each game point is that the score-only-on-serve principle makes possible classic comebacks such as Marty Hogan's win in the last game of this year's finals. Without this principle, only the very close games retain any interest at the end. With it, the game really isn't over until the last point has been won.
New London, Conn.
Jim Kaplan seems to want to make racquetball a spectator sport. It changes the game immensely to score after every shot. I object to the idea of television deciding how a game should be played. Why not invent TV ball?
Convent Station, N.J.
BOLD BIDDER'S PROGENY
In his article He's Got the Horse Right Here (Nov. 6), Douglas S. Looney betrays a woeful ignorance of recent racing and breeding history. In reference to the sire of Spectacular Bid, clearly this year's champion 2-year-old colt, Looney states that Bold Bidder's "main claim to fame is that he's a son of Bold Ruler." Had Looney done a little more research, he would have discovered the following about Bold Bidder:
He won close to $500,000 in 1965-67, when purses were about half of what they are now.
He was voted the champion handicap horse in 1966.
He has sired 125 winners, among them 23 stakes winners, and the total earnings of his progeny were well in excess of $5 million through 1977 (before Spectacular Bid ran).
Of his stakes winners, one, Cannonade, won the Kentucky Derby in 1974, and two others were champions on two continents.
In 1974 he was the leading sire in the world, with progeny earnings in excess of $1.5 million.
There are dozens of stallions on stud farms in this and other countries about which it could be said that their main claim to fame is their descent from Bold Ruler, but Bold Bidder isn't one of them.
It seems to me that the Meyerhoffs, owners of Spectacular Bid, made a very astute purchase last year and fully deserve their spectacular luck. And Trainer Bud Delp is a competent horseman whose time has come. If Delp has been a little lippy lately, he's no worse than Laz Barrera and LeRoy Jolley were in their limelight days. The odds against a third Triple Crown winner in three years are tremendous, but the Meyerhoffs and Delp have the best shot.
GEORGE G. VINCENT
AT THE RINKS
So the roller skating industry has decided that if speed skaters wear protective helmets, the public will associate them with the old Roller Derby (Fancy Figures Down at the Rink, Oct. 30). How intelligent! Now, when I hear about roller skating I'll think of two young girls colliding, one of them suffering a possible concussion, of a grown man leaving the floor on a stretcher and of bruises and broken bones. Roller skating officials should wise up. Roller Derby participants didn't wear all that protective gear for show! That was to protect their heads, arms, legs, etc. Because there is none of the pushing and shoving of the Derby in roller skating competitions, maybe all that gear isn't needed, but I can't believe the roller skating hierarchy has 10- and 11-year-olds out there without helmets! They are risking the youngsters' health for the sake of the industry's image. I think someone has his priorities wrong.
The article by Julia Lamb was a good one, but her putdown of Roller Derby was unnecessary and very snobbish. If the roller skating industry has been battling Roller Derby for years, it's news to me. The Derby brought fans to roller skating, it didn't take them away. It was a neat little sport that attracted huge crowds in the '60s and early '70s. All kinds of people liked it, not just "teen-age punks in ducktails and leather jackets."
JOSEPH K. PETERS
The "adventurers" standing on the traffic-light post watching the New York City Marathon (All Around the Town, Oct. 30) were Raymond Bernardini and Kevin Lyons, senior members of the W. C. Mepham High School track team of Bellmore, N.Y.—the same team that produced one of America's best half-milers, Mark Belger (Mepham '74).
STEVEN D. FEINSTEIN
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