STICKS AND STONES
Accolades to Dan Jenkins on his magnificently perceptive article (One Point Six, Pick Up Sticks, March 21). It has long seemed wrong to me that those colleges with good student-athletes (and they represent the vast majority) must continually meet teams with boys that do not read or write very well. The NCAA's One Point Six rule is a brave effort to reduce this kind of thing.
JOHN A. LUCAS
University Park, Pa.
Jenkins says the basic issue is simple: "Should the NCAA try to insure that every varsity athlete is a student?" I agree that it should. But certainly the One Point Six rule is not the way to do it. It only insures that Stu Fingerlace will have to switch his major from biochemistry to the fox-trot to keep his athletic scholarship. Rather than eliminating the "tramp athlete, the transfer type, the snap-course clod," the One Point Six rule may encourage the very things that the NCAA hopes to curtail.
If the NCAA is concerned about the academic respectability of some of its championship participants, its "gym-shoe" and/or "life of the mind" committees should try to persuade all members that it is best for intercollegiate athletics if an athlete "has to survive strictly on his academic merit." If a member college certifies that her athletes are students in good standing, what more can or should the NCAA demand? Perhaps the NCAA should be more discriminating.
PHILIP G. PRATT
Surely the fact that a student athlete may take courses in basket weaving or the foxtrot is just as great an abuse of the system as the fact that he is permitted to play football while maintaining an average of less than 1.6. If this is so, is not the next logical step for the NCAA to dictate what courses a student athlete may take as well as what average he must maintain? And after that, what next? While the NCAA certainly has a point, I don't believe the Ivies are as "dead wrong" as Mr. Jenkins would have us believe.
In light of the recent Ivy League-NCAA conflict, I think everyone has been remiss in one thing. How can you hope to compare a 1.6 average at a school like Cornell or Harvard to a 1.6 at a school such as Texas Western or Kansas? It just can't be done. The U.S. Government realizes this, and that is why they are not drafting students by their rank in class alone but by a specific test geared to separate the brighter students from the others by means of a direct comparison rather than a grade-point average. Why doesn't Mr. Byers make up a test designed to make all athletes meet a certain academic standard? It wouldn't be any more ridiculous than his One Point Six rule!
As a 1960 graduate of Dartmouth, when the One Point Six controversy was first raised, I immediately sided with the Ivy League and muttered things like, "They won't ram this down our throat," and, "We don't need them anyway." But, dammit, we do need them.
To think that teams like Princeton's 1965 basketball team or Yale's 1966 swimming team might never get an opportunity to demonstrate that they're the best in the country rather than just the best in a supposedly glorified intramural league sickens me.
Jenkins' extremely lucid and well-reasoned article has not only led me around to the other side of the picture but completely converted my thinking. Clearly, if the Ivy League insists on maintaining its Albert Schweitzer-type attitude, it will become an inbred, sheltered intramural league, which is maybe what it wants after all.
RICHARD V. PHILLIPS
If the NCAA wants to get into the business of measuring aptitudes, what's wrong with using the nationally accepted Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SAT), the downfall of many an athlete trying to enter an Ivy school?
I am mindful of your March 7 story on the Baron: "It seems that Mr. Rupp, who has never been encumbered by modesty, used to teach a basketball course at UK, and he would always give all of his students straight A's. Rupp's reasoning was simply that no one could learn basketball from Adolph Rupp and not get an A."
I'm sure a straight A in basketball goes a long way to support a 1.6 average. However, please advise Mr. Jenkins that Ivy schools do not give graduation credits in basketball.
The NCAA could easily assure that each varsity athlete is a student by simply outlawing all athletic grants. We are quick to note that Russian athletes are subsidized, yet the Big Ten and the SEC, among others, can hardly be called "amateur." To follow the Ivy League would not downgrade American sports. Indeed, I believe there were more Ivy Leaguers on the last Olympic squad than men from any other conference.
BENJAMIN A. HOOVER II, M.D.
If so many NCAA affiliates are in favor of this rule and they have already set high standards for their own schools, why do they continue to schedule games with the Sweatshirt U.'s who so obviously do not meet their requirements? The Sweatshirt U.'s have-no business appearing on the athletic schedules of our institutes of higher learning. They belong among the ranks of professional organizations.
Silver Spring, Md.
If you can't trust colleges to prohibit failing athletes from competing in sports or, more importantly, to honestly decide for themselves whether such competition is in the best interests of the student, how can you possibly trust them not to raise grades?
In actual practice, the new system is no different than the old system. The One Point Six rule was created by Big State U. in order to appease its conscience about its nonacademically inclined athletes. The standards of such athletes can be raised only when each individual university chooses to raise its own standards.
I support Dave Nelson's criticism of the "nothing" punt return in American football (SCORECARD, March 7). In a majority of cases the action in the kicking situation is a mockery of the term "contact sport." While agreeing with Coach Nelson's diagnosis of the disease, I cannot endorse his suggestions for a cure.
Why not have the rulemakers consider the punt return as it is regulated in Canadian football? Under the Canadian rules, the receiving team is obligated to receive the ball because the kicker is allowed to hustle down the field and recover it if it flops around loose. A punt into the end zone, far from being a kicker's error, is an exciting moment, since the receiving team must run the ball out or give up a point (called a rouge). In both situations an imaginary five-yard restraining circle protects the receiver from the kicker's teammates until the ball is touched.
The single undesirable feature of the Canadian rule is that the receiver is not allowed any blocking protection. It seems a logical solution to combine the Canadian rule, complete with restraining circle, with American blocking and throw out the fair catch and touchback. While this may seem a little complicated to those of us who don't serve on football rules committees, I suggest it would be a piece of cake for a group that has already shown its ability to conceive and execute the complex college substitution rules of the last decade.
JAMES A.P. DAY
RUPTURED DUCK (CONT.)
While I do not care to get into a retrogressive contest with Lieutenant Schneidler, he has questioned (19TH HOLE, Feb. 14) the feasibility of using a clipped-wing jet fighter to set the land-speed record on the basis of factors thought obvious enough to be omitted for simplicity's sake in my original letter (19TH HOLE, Jan. 17).
It is true, as Lieutenant Schneidler points out, that our present jet fighters cannot lower their wheels at even half the present 600-mph record; however, it is the relatively fragile wheel-well doors and wheel fairings that limit the speed. On most fighters the doors are open only while the wheels are being raised or lowered. Since my Ruptured Duck would have the main gear permanently locked down, with only the nose wheel being retracted for the "flight" down the speed track, the wheel-well doors could be bolted closed. The wheel fairings should be removed from the struts and riveted in place to close the holes in the underside of the wing, which are normally closed in flight after the gear has been retracted. What is more, since they no longer have to fit into restricted space in the wings or fuselage, there is no limit to the size of wheel or wheels which can be hung on the now fixed main struts.
In the case of the high equivalent air speeds at high altitude which Lieutenant Schneidler mentioned, he has introduced super-and hypersonic complications. Nevertheless, I believe the average jet-fighter air frame, modified as I have suggested, could readily withstand the high Q of a safely subsonic 600-mph-plus run through near-sea-level air densities to set a new land-speed record.
COMMANDER R.K. AWTREY, USN
New York City