What a perfect choice for Sportsman of the Year, and I emphasize the word sportsman (Still Glittering After All These Years, Dec. 25-Jan. 1). Jack Nicklaus has to be one of the most congenial, considerate and compassionate men in sports.
Former Tour caddie
Your selection of Jack Nicklaus as Sportsman of the Year illuminates a critical dimension of that award: recognition of an athlete's character and maturity. Nicklaus' balanced approach to his game and to his life reflects the basic distinction between a sportsman and one who only plays a sport well.
JAMES J. JUNEWICZ
I am a 43-year-old mother of six who by no stretch of the imagination would be considered a sports enthusiast, but there are a few men and women out there whom I admire as real sportsmen. Jack Nicklaus tops the list.
MRS. FRED ISAACS
A golfer as Sportsman of the Year? Golf is not a sport, and golfers are not athletes.
Studio City, Calif.
January 8, 1979
If any golfer deserved the award, it was Nancy Lopez!
With all due respect to Jack Nicklaus, the year that he had cannot compare with the one Ron Guidry, Jim Rice, Dave Parker, Rod Carew, Earl Campbell, Bob Griese, Roger Staubach, Jimmy Connors, Muhammad Ali or Guy Lafleur had. Nicklaus should (or could) be honored as Sportsman of the Decade, or should even be considered for Sportsman of the Century, but not Sportsman of the Year 1978.
Kew Gardens, N.Y.
My vote for '78 is Ron Guidry. Yours should have been, too.
The real shame is not that Jack Nicklaus won the award. It is that the most obvious winner in recent years—Bill Rodgers—did not.
STEVEN A. KENDALL
Can you honestly say that Jack Nicklaus' 1978 golf record is equal to Henry Rono's achievements in track this past year?
What about Mario Andretti?
VINCENT C. BERTOLINI
You will receive a lot of flak about choosing Jack Nicklaus, especially because he played in only 15 PGA Tour events in 1978. That, however, is why I felt compelled to write this letter. There is no one I would rather watch play golf than Nicklaus, so I was disappointed, along with others, at the trimming of his schedule. I was, however, very pleased with his reason for cutting down on his tournament appearances.
In this mobile age when it is next to impossible to gather an entire family together for a meal, let alone for any kind of togetherness, you have chosen a man who realizes that being with his family, watching his children grow up and providing the parental approval all children need is more important than playing golf. I admire Nicklaus' decision and respect him very much for it. I also admire and respect you for your decision.
THE REV. PERRY D. ANDERSON
Monrovia Christian Church
You couldn't have made a better choice.
RICHARD A. MALONEY
JIMMY THE JOGGER
A feature article in SI on a jogging President? One can only hope this is not an indication of things to come. Please, SI, get back on the track.
DAVID J. READ
President Carter's jogging may make him as sound as a dollar, but the use of what appears to be Adidas footwear won't help the U.S. economy. Couldn't he find American-made running shoes?
The results of Bud Goode's computer predictions for the 1978 NFL season (Big D by Three, Sept. 4) are now in and show a creditable 137-71 (65.9%) record. (I ignored all predicted ties except the Minnesota-Green Bay game in determining the season's right-wrong mark. I also deleted the Houston-New England game in Week 11 in which both teams were originally listed as winners.) Goode just missed correctly forecasting Pittsburgh's 14-2 record with his 14-1-1 prediction, and his best week was the seventh, when he correctly picked 12 winners. He was most accurate in choosing the winner in Pittsburgh's and Green Bay's games—14 correct in each case. On the other hand, every team he picked to win only one game or less won at least five: Seattle led the way with nine victories, the Jets won eight, the Giants six and Tampa Bay five.
Goode also correctly chose eight of the 10 playoff teams—missing only wild-card entrants Philadelphia and Houston. Now the only major unanswered question is whether the Dallas Super Bowl victory he predicted will materialize.
SANTA ANITA'S EXACTAS
Santa Anita Park is offering exacta wagering on three instead of four races each day during the meeting now under way. Your SCORECARD item (Dec. 11) was in error in stating that all exacta wagering at Santa Anita has been eliminated.
Director of Publicity
Santa Anita Park
"So there is America's new tennis hero," says Curry Kirkpatrick at the end of his story on John P. McEnroe Jr. (Winning Is No Laughing Matter, Dec. 11). Pure claptrap! Never mind that Junior is a good tennis player. Tell me where it says that to be a good player you also have to be an ingrate or a prima donna.
If Kirkpatrick is looking for authentic heroes he can start with Earl Campbell or Roger Staubach. Not only are they outstanding athletes, but also they are gentlemen.
BERMAN E. (DEFFY) DEFFENBAUGH JR.
Robert E. Lee Tennis Hackers
Jimmy Connors wins consistently (since 1974) and behaves poorly on the court, so your magazine runs an article depicting him as a mama's boy (Raised by Women To Conquer Men, Aug. 28). John McEnroe wins consistently (since September) and behaves poorly on the court, and you depict him as America's new tennis hero. What's going on? The term "hero" is not one to be loosely tossed about. John Havlicek is a sports hero. John McEnroe is not.
If I were editing your magazine I would not waste four pages on that brat, John McEnroe.
Having watched John McEnroe play two consecutive years in the U.S. Open Clay Court Championships, I would rate his court behavior no worse than a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being tops for manners. (Ashe and Smith would rate a 1; Hewitt and Nastase a 10). Grimacing, yes; petulant expressions, yes; but otherwise I would say that McEnroe has been well behaved.
JAMES E. BENNETT, M.D.
In his article, Curry Kirkpatrick says that John McEnroe breezed to the NCAA championship last spring. Breeze is hardly the right word. North Carolina State's John Sadri came very close to winning that title, losing 7-6, 7-6, 5-7, 7-6 to McEnroe, with all tie-breakers going 5-3.
What is more, McEnroe had an easy time getting to the finals, defeating easy opponents, while Sadri had to knock off third-seeded Eddie Edwards of Pepperdine, and second-seeded Eliot Teltscher of UCLA.
JAMES B. POMERANZ
Department of Athletics
North Carolina State University
I very much resent Curry Kirkpatrick's reference to my generation: "Isn't he [John McEnroe] from the same terrific generation that ate cocaine for breakfast and gave us punk rock?"
I have never in my life eaten cocaine for breakfast—or for lunch, for that matter—and I regard punk rock with contempt. If Kirkpatrick views these as the only two contributions to society of my generation, then he hasn't looked around lately.
By the way, wasn't it Kirkpatrick's terrific generation that gave us Watergate, Attica and chewable air?
CAM HENDERSON'S CONTRIBUTIONS
Maury Klein gives Rhode Island's Frank Keaney credit for originating the fast break (YESTERDAY, NOV. 27). While Keaney was one of the first to use it and helped to develop basketball into a running game, he cannot be given credit for having invented this style of play. The originator of the fast break was Cam Henderson of Marshall University.
Henderson began his coaching career just before World War I at Bristol (W.Va.) High School, where he unveiled his fast break and zone defense. Clair Bee, playing for a Grafton (W.Va.) YMCA team in a game against a Bristol team, witnessed Henderson's revolutionary brand of basketball and in the books he wrote gave Henderson credit for originating the fast break and zone defense.
Henderson utilized the fast break and zone defense wherever he coached and had used it for 20 years, mostly at Davis & Elkins College, before coming to Marshall in 1935. While at Marshall, Henderson beat such notable coaches as Nat Holman of CCNY (1939-40) and John Wooden of Indiana State (1946-47).
The people of Marshall are proud of their basketball heritage, and most especially of Cam Henderson, a man whose rightful place is among basketball's elite.
Huntington, W. Va.
•Basketball historians suggest that while it may be impossible to pinpoint any one coach as the originator of the fast break, several can be credited with having pioneered it in their particular regions, including Henderson and Keaney in the East and Purdue's Ward (Piggy) Lambert (1916-17 and 1919-46) in the Midwest.—ED.
While we were amused by Frank Deford's article on sex in football (As I SEE IT, Dec. 4), we must disagree with his premise that football players are sexier than basketball players. Apparently he has never seen Maurice Lucas of the Portland Trail Blazers. Don't tell us pro basketball has never produced a sex symbol.
Your article on sex in football really hit home. When I was in college it was agreed that a football game was the only place you could take a girl, a bottle and a blanket, and no one would blink an eye.
NORTHWESTERN WOMEN (CONT.)
While thumbing through recent 19TH HOLE columns, I was pleased to read about Betty Robinson Schwartz, a two-time Olympic gold-medal winner and a graduate of Northwestern (Nov. 27).
My wife, Annette Rogers Kelly, is also a two-time Olympic gold medalist and a Northwestern graduate. She was a member of the winning women's 400-meter relay teams in '32 at Los Angeles and in '36 at Berlin. She finished in sixth place in the women's high jump at L.A. In Berlin she placed fifth in the women's 100-meter dash and was tied for sixth in the high jump.
Betty Robinson and my wife are still close friends and both are members of the United States Track & Field Hall of Fame.
BIRDS VS. SQUIRRELS
We read with enjoyment Jeannette Bruce's VIEWPOINT (NOV. 27) on keeping squirrels out of bird feeders. Had she written to us about her problem, help would have been on the way by the next mail. But then she wouldn't have been able to write her article, and many people would have missed it.
We have repeatedly asked salesmen and stores not to say that our Droll Yankees bird feeders are squirrel-proof, only squirrel-resistant. We make the following suggestions: place all feeders at least 6' to 8' from anything a squirrel is able to climb onto, because that is the distance a squirrel can and does jump, including from the ground up. We also offer a dome that may be placed over any of our feeders, which our customers have discovered makes many of them squirrel-proof. Here, too, they still have to be hung high and far away from any potential squirrel perches, again including the ground. Using a tray makes it easier for the squirrel to get onto the feeders, and we suggest removing it. It's an optional item, anyway. Feeders may also be post-mounted with the same distances in mind.
DOROTHY P. KILHAM
Droll Yankees Inc.
Jeannette Bruce's humorous treatment of an exasperating problem prompts me to express my sympathy and to pass along my solutions.
I finally discouraged one nasty and determined squirrel with a floating baffle in the form of a metal lampshade on a 1½" steel post, a yard above the ground. The final touch was several coats of wax on the enameled post below the baffle. It was amusing to watch the rascal try and try again to overcome the obstacles.
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