What does Frank Deford mean (Jumpin' Jimmyny, July 12) when he says that Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe "almost never play good matches against each other, let alone pretty ones"? Both Connors and McEnroe prove that tennis today, at its highest level, isn't a pretty sport; like football, baseball, basketball and boxing, it's an intense sport, replete with all of the characteristics that go with competition. My understanding of sports, culled from years of reading SI, subordinates prettiness to guttiness.
The point isn't how graceful Connors and McEnroe are on court, but their intensity. McEnroe's strengths (serve, quickness, touch) play right into Connors' (return of serve, tenacity, power), and their matches, while often ragged, resemble those hard-fought Oakland-Pittsburgh football games of recent years. In neglecting this aspect of the game, Deford has seriously misunderstood what tennis has become in the hands of these two Americans. It's as if he can't feel a tennis match.
I know Jimmy Connors' victory at Wimbledon was a great achievement that deserved to be commemorated on your cover, but what about Martina Navratilova's win? Why not publish a cover with pictures of them both? The ERA may have died, but that doesn't mean that woman's place in sports has died as well. You have a good magazine, but you could find room for women athletes on your cover, not just those great-looking ladies in swimsuits.
I'm still waiting for the day when one of those abused tennis umpires leaves his chair and heads for his tormentor.
The applause that would result as one of these rude, millionaire mental midgets finally had the crap beaten out of him would be deafening.
WILLIAM M. HATCH
I'm really happy to see that someone else feels the way I do about NBC's Wimbledon coverage (Game, Set, Match to the BBC, July 12). I mean, how can you watch a tennis match listening to a man who calls Billie Jean King "Saint Billie Jean"?
My compliments to Bill Taaffe on an article that hit the nail right on the head.
Bravo to Bill Taaffe for his reporting on Wimbledon's sportscasters. Bud Collins, to name one, is and always has been an unrelieved pain in the tympanum. Here's to an all quiet on the Collins front.
SHERRY KING LOBEL
New York City
Bill Taaffe's observations about Bud Collins are certainly apt, but Collins is hardly the only offender, and chiding the networks is not likely to do much to restrain the Collinses, Brent Musburgers and Jim McKays that beset us. The cure is actually much simpler and in the hands of the viewers: Just watch televised sports with the sound turned off. To follow what's going on without being yammered at may require a little more attentiveness, but if it's not beyond the capacity of the average Briton, why should it be so for Americans?
I find it surprising that a writer of Douglas S. Looney's experience would swallow whole Bobby Chandler's stories of the tribulations he suffered while playing for the Buffalo Bills, the only team in the NFL that thought enough of his talent to draft him (The Bare Facts Are He's a Star, July 12). The Bills never practiced on an ice rink, the players didn't have to park a half mile from the stadium, and the story about the showers with five minutes of hot water is a canard. I have followed the team too closely for too long not to know.
In addition, we Buffalonians hardly appreciate Looney's gratuitous geography lesson ("His biggest liability is that he spent nine of his first 11 NFL seasons in Buffalo, 30 miles north of Gowanda and 35 miles northwest of Varysburg") and request equal space to point out that Oakland is 30 miles west of Tracy and 35 miles southwest of Vacaville.
JOSEPH M. OVERFIELD
Thank you for providing some well-deserved "exposure" to one of pro football's most prolific—and underrated—wide receivers, Bobby Chandler.
Growing up in Western New York, I had the pleasure of watching not one but two former Southern Cal players make it big in the NFL. Which brings me to your point about Chandler, one of those erstwhile Trojans, being overlooked because nine of his first 11 seasons were spent in Buffalo. In suggesting that his "biggest liability" was that he was unfortunate enough to have played in a city located "30 miles north of Gowanda," you offer a rationale that directly contradicts the success story of the other aforementioned ex-Trojan, O.J. Simpson.
Simpson certainly received an appropriate amount of attention while carving out a superlative career, virtually every sparkling moment of which was spent as a member of an often mediocre Bills team. In fact, his emergence as the game's preeminent player probably did more to diminish the recognition given Chandler than anything else. If so, the real travesty is that the sportswriters couldn't see past the lead actor to assess the contributions of the supporting cast. Chandler, Joe Ferguson and Reggie McKenzie, to name a few, became the unwitting victims of a phenomenon known as Juice, much to the dismay of Simpson himself.
RONALD J. WINTER
Granada Hills, Calif.
You guys have been right all along about Buffalo. It's a harsh existence we Buffalonians endure, living in our rickety shacks that resemble War Memorial Stadium, and plodding along in snowshoes over the frozen tundra 11½ months a year.
There is one consolation, though. Every few months the dog sleds brave their way from civilization to bring us a few issues of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED SO we can read about what a pit we live in.
And, to top it off, you've finally brought our greatest shame out of the closet. Even Buffalo's slickest politicians haven't been able to hush up our biggest scandal: that we're "30 miles north of Gowanda and 35 miles northwest of Varysburg."
After reading your article on Don Sutton ("God May Be a Football Fan", July 12), the one thing I'll remember is that he wanted to have his cake and eat it, too.
Sensitive, no. Honest, yes.
KATHYE LEMMON VIDAL
I was disappointed to see you waste so much space on someone as unworthy of your attention as Don Sutton. You portray him as vulnerable, quick-witted, professional. In fact, he's arrogant, smart-alecky and a phony.
I'm not among the uninitiated to his "wit." I have been listening to Sutton's flippant remarks in radio and TV interviews for years, and anyone who says such things as "My hairstyle makes me crave bagels and watermelon," is not someone to be respected and doesn't deserve the recognition you have given him.
His pitching accomplishments may be impressive, but as a person Don Sutton is certainly not.
It's a pleasure to read about a "real" person like Don Sutton excelling in pro sports. Sutton uttered one of my very favorite lines when he decided to sign as a free agent with the Astros instead of the Yankees: Asked why he chose the lesser paying, less famous Astros, Sutton replied (approximately), "Houston is a place where I can wear jeans without people thinking I'm trying to be fashionable."
As one who happily left the East Coast five years ago, I enjoyed that observation immensely.
Rohnert Park, Calif.
Though I have devoured countless thousands of words on Henley in my lifetime, it wasn't until I read your July 5 issue (Glory, Glory, Henleylujah) that I finally felt in total touch with the ambience of this great event. In 14 pages photographer Lane Stewart captured the spirit of the event in a manner so charming I plan to keep my copy of the magazine in my permanent file of treasures.
CARLOS E. RIVAS
What in hell was Jerry Kirshenbaum thinking when he damned the people of New Jersey for naming their new hockey team the Devils (SCORECARD, July 12)?
He pointed out that the name—selected in a statewide poll—was inspired by Leeds' Devil, a mythological creature that has been terrorizing the Garden State for many moons. But he failed to inform his readers that this monster is better known as the Jersey Devil. Hence, the people of New Jersey felt that the name had appropriate local roots.
What were we supposed to do, Jerry, name a hockey team the Jersey Tomatoes?
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