Ron Mix's clear and eloquent arguments on behalf of the professional football player (So Little Gain for the Pain, Oct. 19) should strike a sympathetic chord in anyone who works hard for a living. I am a symphony musician and a union member with an annual salary of less than $10,000. Orchestra administrators, like NFL team owners, are well aware of the overabundance of talent flowing annually from our colleges and universities—excellent performers desperate for a chance to play. Too often they seem more protective of the bottom line than of the people whose sweat they transform into gold.
Certainly, entrepreneurs are entitled to profit from their ventures. And certainly in our society athletes are revered disproportionately. But they're also entitled to their slice of the corporate pie. Because the NFL pie is large and rich does not abrogate the obligation of the owners to share the feast.
The NFL Players Association strike was doomed to fail because the owners had no incentive to negotiate. Perhaps the courts will act to rectify this inequity, but in the meantime working people everywhere, whether they empathize with the players or not, are affected by the strike's failure. That failure, however, in no way diminishes the integrity of the arguments put forth so incisively in your article.
Thank goodness the NFL strike is over. Not because I've missed seeing each week's exhilarating play. Rather, I'm tired of seeing story after story about how tough it is for NFL players—the latest of them being Ron Mix's.
November 9, 1987
Granted, injury rates are high, but I don't recall ever hearing about a player being forced to sign a contract with a gun at his head. There is no way to justify a full-retirement plan based on an average of 3½ years of employment. If the players can't stand the heat, they should get out of the kitchen. Let them get a real job at $25,000 (or less) per year coming out of college. But, please, no more articles telling us how tough they've got it.
William Taaffe is correct (It's Bottom Line Time, Oct. 12) that management economies at ABC, CBS and NBC have forced many changes in operating practices at the networks. The networks' formerly bloated budgets have been trimmed although they remain at a level considerably above that of the real—and growing—competition: cable TV.
It is interesting to note that many of the network productions being farmed out to independent producers have gone to regional sports cable networks or national cable systems such-as ESPN, USA and FNN/SCORE. And they are being handled there by many of those high-priced, supposedly expendable former network production executives who have hooked on with one of these hustling young outfits. The work seems to be following the executives, and it may not be long before the audience follows them to cable TV, too.
DAVID A. KLATELL
Institute in Broadcast Sports
I read with interest E.M. Swift's essay on the NHL's attempt to curb violence (POINT AFTER, Oct. 12). I played Division I hockey at St. Lawrence University and have also refereed at that level, so I am familiar with the game. I am fairly convinced that the powers that be in the NHL do not consider violence a serious problem.
The league's new rules calling for player suspensions appear to be an attempt to curb violence, but I submit that penalizing the player and not the team will have little effect. While the suspended player is sitting out games, his place on the roster will be taken by a young, enthusiastic minor league player, glad to have a chance to show his talents. Over a short period, the minor leaguer probably will perform as well as the player he is replacing.
I propose that teams be prevented from replacing suspended players on their rosters. This would put pressure on the rest of the team and, particularly, the coach, who is the real person in control of violence. Given the length of the NHL season, playing with a reduced roster would take its toll—and most likely bring a change of philosophy.
WILLIAM H. PLIMPTON
Please tell Winnipeg defenseman Jim Kyte (A True Jet Fighter, Oct. 12) to consider wearing a headband when he is on the ice. I also wear a hearing aid and used to suffer the same short-circuiting problem whenever I played any sports, until I started wearing a headband to absorb perspiration.
Good luck to Kyte in the future. He is a fine example of what someone with an impairment can accomplish through desire and hard work.
MARK P. KARASEK
RABBIT BALL (CONT.)
The debate over the rabbit ball is even older than reader Paul Tash (LETTERS, Oct. 19) suggests. While doing research for my master's thesis in history, I discovered a series of articles in the Louisville Courier-Journal that attributed a sudden increase in offense to the new "lively" ball. The last of these reports, describing the composition of the ball, appeared in the May 18, 1877 edition.
DEAN A. SULLIVAN
U.S. VS. THE WORLD
Regarding Jack McCallum's POINT AFTER entitled "What's Going On Here?" (Sept. 28), your catalog of American athletic failures did not include the U.S. Eagles Rugby Team, which won only one game in the recent World Cup Competition. The Cup, by the way, was won by New Zealand—whose population totals 3,144,700.
Jack McCallum asks, "What has happened to the American soccer boom?" Isn't the fact that the U.S. Olympic team beat Trinidad & Tobago 4-1 and 1-0 in the CONCACAF (the Confederation of Soccer Playing Nations from North and Central America and the Caribbean) Olympic qualifying games worth mentioning? What about our women's under-19 national team, which tied the European Cup champion Norwegian national team 1-1 in July and a month later beat China by a score of 6-0 in the North America Cup international competition? If none of this is noteworthy, then surely our country's bid to host the 1994 World Cup is. We have a good chance to succeed.
Stone Mountain, Ga.
McCallum failed to mention the prestigious Motocross des Nations that took place on Sept. 13. It was held in the U.S. (in Berlin, N.Y.) for the first time in its 41-year history, and the U.S. team won for the seventh consecutive year. Our three-man team beat the best riders from 16 other nations. It wasn't so many years ago that the U.S. was the motocross doormat for the European countries. Now we stand alone at the top.
ELWOOD J.C. KURETH
Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.
This summer in Indianapolis the underdog U.S. team handball squad upset Cuba in overtime to win the Pan American Games gold medal. There were no television cameras in the Hoosier Dome that day, and certainly most Americans have no idea what team handball is all about, but I can assure you that the 6,000-plus spectators, officials and athletes who saw 35-year-old team captain Joe Story score a miraculous goal to tie the game with one second left in regulation, and who felt the electricity as the U.S. team came from behind again in overtime to win 34-32 will never forget the experience.
Jack McCallum's essay struck a raw nerve. It was embarrassing to watch Brazil defeat the U.S. in men's basketball in the Pan Am Games. When will this country wake up? Year after year we send young college students up against the best professionals the rest of the world can muster! Brazil's Oscar (the Big O) Schmidt makes the equivalent of a six-figure salary playing "amateur" ball in Italy. How does Brazil or the U.S.S.R. (remember the 1972 Olympics) think it would do in serious international competition against the NBA All-Star team? Would Cuba, the Pan Am Games baseball champion, defeat the Dodgers, Cardinals or Yankees? What Cuban middleweight or heavyweight boxer wants a piece of Marvin Hagler or Mike Tyson?
Granted, teams from other countries have made great strides. But I am sick of the double standard that exists in "amateur" athletics.
BLAINE R. SMITH
Columbia's record losing streak in football (The Toothless Lions, Oct. 19) is certainly unfortunate. Therefore, I thought your readers might be interested in this 1907 postcard, which harks back to the good old days of Columbia football.
Many people these days collect baseball and football cards. I collect antique postcards—particularly those that portray college and pro sports.
SCOTT L. OSUR, M.D.
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