ONE FOR ACADEME
I was amazed to learn that after 25 years the controversy involving the famous cuts in the movie Knute Rockne—All American may be resolved and the missing scenes restored (SCORECARD, Jan. 12). The election of President Ronald Reagan has naturally created an instant market for his films, and we are fortunate that this one, in which he portrayed George Gipp, is among the most popular.
However, a recent viewing of this movie convinced me that the omitted "win just one for the Gipper" scenes become incidental when compared to the film's actual purpose. It is more than a biography of Rockne, a testimonial to Gipp or a documentary of Notre Dame football. The ideals of leadership and competitiveness are presented with such emotional honesty that it becomes a definition of the principles on which collegiate sports should be founded.
At a time when many of our colleges and universities are being criticized for sacrificing athletes' academic programs in favor of winning, perhaps we won't miss "win just one for the Gipper" as much if we remember that in the same film Rockne also tells his players, "You didn't come to Notre Dame only to play football."
LARRY L. TAYLOR
That was a super piece on Czech tennis by Sarah Pileggi ("Fanatics and Fools," Jan. 12). Because I knew Karel Kozeluh well and traveled with him and Bill Tilden on their nationwide professional tour in the early '30s, I'd like to add a little about him. Kozeluh relinquished his superstar status in hockey and soccer to become one of the world's great tennis players. Limber and nimble as he was, he reached for every shot, missing nothing, and he returned everything with speed. The faster the ball came to him, the faster it went back off his tightly strung racket.
February 2, 1981
Kozeluh, bless him, was fatally injured in 1950 at the age of 54. He crashed in his sports car while driving from Prague to his villa in Klanovice—a distance of 15 miles—for a game of golf.
Sarah Pileggi's masterpiece of sports reporting brought back memories of my youth in Trest, a mountain village in Moravia (pop. 5,000), where the two tennis courts were the place to be seen and to belong to as a kid. That was in the mid-1930s. When my son and I visited there in 1976, 40 years later, the tennis courts were still the place to be.
Probably as important as the achievement of the top players is the fact that tennis is helping to put a little bit of a human face on an otherwise harshly repressive political regime.
THE JENKINS CASE (CONT.)
In SCORECARD (Jan. 5) you note that Texas Ranger Pitcher Ferguson Jenkins was convicted of possession of cocaine but was let off with no penalty whatsoever because he "has conducted himself in exemplary fashion." Be that as it may, logic which states that if he has been good so far, we can let this one crime go seems ludicrous when carried to such an extreme.
West Hartford, Conn.
I take exception to your evaluation of the potential disciplinary proceedings by professional baseball for Ferguson Jenkins' crime. While the criminal justice system of Canada has fairly dealt with Jenkins pursuant to the requirements of due process, it is not inherently unfair, nor is it a case of double jeopardy for Jenkins to be punished for his action by the institution of professional baseball through which he earns his living. Your magazine improperly assumed a similar position in the Don Murdoch case when the then New York Ranger was arrested on similar charges.
A professional athlete holds a special position of importance and prestige in today's society, as demonstrated by the hero worship and extraordinary compensation afforded him. Is there not a commensurate responsibility on the part of that athlete to the hierarchy of the sport, his fellow players and, most important, to society as a whole? Can we not expect a higher degree of social responsibility from our professional athletes than we do from ordinary citizens?
The critical issue is not whether Jenkins' drug possession affected a particular baseball game, but rather the issue is the obvious ramifications of his activity and the value accorded it by our society, especially by our impressionable youth.
NICHOLAS P. AMIGONE III
As a father, sports fan and youth baseball coach, I was disappointed to read your views on the Ferguson Jenkins case. Young people of today look to sports heroes as examples, and I don't think Jenkins' example should be condoned. If he is not punished for his wrongdoings, what am I to tell my players and son when they are caught smoking, drinking or even using drugs?
Please cancel my subscription and refund any money I may have coming. I will use it in my youth league program to combat such views.
Whether Jenkins is a veteran with 259 wins or just a rookie, what he did was wrong, not to mention illegal. SI's contention that if Jenkins' drug use didn't affect the outcome of a game, no harm was done to baseball, is simplistic at best.
By no means do I think that Jenkins has any kind of moral obligation to the kids of this country or Canada to be somebody to look up to. My complaint is that if part of the increased money I have to pay to get into the ball park goes to supporting a player's drug habits, I, for one, feel ripped off.
I had mixed emotions after reading Rick Telander's article on Ernie DiGregorio (A Real Nowhere Man, Jan. 12). It was heartwarming to read that Ernie D is still polishing his skills for another chance at stardom in the NBA. But I was chilled to learn that nobody is willing to offer him a no-cut contract. With sagging attendance and mechanical play, the NBA could use a player of his caliber and exciting style. Every so often a player comes along who makes attending an NBA game a worthwhile experience. Walt Frazier, Dave Cowens and Larry Bird belong in this class, and I hope Ernie D will soon be added to the list.
Just one question: What is Kevin Stacom doing these days?
Brick Township, N.J.
•Stacom is in Newport, R.I., tending the Dockside Saloon, which he owns with two partners.
I'm sorry to say that I have no sympathy for Ernie DiGregorio. If he loves the game as much as he says, then why is a no-cut, big-money contract so important? Many times the fan hears how a pro loves his game so much he would play for nothing. This obviously doesn't apply to Ernie D, who is absolutely right when he says he's a simple kid and maybe immature.
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