Helmets off to SI! Your pro football issue (Sept. 12) was not only your largest, but one of your greatest issues. I enjoyed all of the articles, and the color pictures were fabulous. I won't even criticize any of Tex Maule's choices. In fact, I agree with them 100%. But why was there no picture for the Cowboys? Meredith, Hayes, Lilly and crew are only going to be the next World Champions, and they at least deserve a picture.
Grand Prairie, Texas
•They do indeed (pages 33 and 34).—ED.
I enjoyed your pro football issue immensely, especially the article, The Bears Come Blasting In. I saw evidence of the "blasting" Bears on opening day when they lost by only 11 points to one of the most ferocious seventh-place teams the NFL has seen in years. I must say those "hungry" Bears certainly made a feast of the "pussycats."
North Muskegon, Mich.
I see Tex Maule again has chosen Dallas to capture the eastern title. But they won't. The Cleveland Browns will.
Moreover, they won't even miss Mr. Whatshisname!
Tex Maule says Minnesota is a sixth-place team. No club with Fran Tarkenton, Tommy Mason, Bill Brown, Paul Flatley, a great offensive line, plus a great coach like Norman Van Brocklin is going to finish sixth.
What especially interested me was that Edwin Shrake envisions the San Diego Chargers dropping to third place in the AFL West while the Houston Oilers climb to first place in the East—all because of one man, Ernie Ladd. Who does Shrake think Ladd is? Superman?
JAMES R. REDHEAD
Since my article ("I Have Never Broken a Contract," Sept. 19) appeared in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, people have been asking me what I think about coaches' contracts in general. Let me say first that a contract is the only way by which a school can get a proven coach and assurance that its athletic department will not be raided every year. But the coach is really in more need of protection than the school. His career is dependent upon the performance of 18-and 19-year-old young men, and they can be pretty unpredictable. A coach needs some guarantee of tenure, the same as a college professor, but on a short-term basis. He can get this from a contract.
Every contract should give the coach an option to renegotiate at the end of each two-year period. If the school is dissatisfied it can refuse to renegotiate, but it is obliged to honor the contract for the full term. If the coach is unhappy, he can tell his school he is not going to renegotiate and thus give notice that he is planning to leave. This way, there can never be a question of a coach's moral obligations if he should leave to go to another school. However, until that stipulated option time has arrived, he is legally and morally obligated to fulfill that segment of the contract. In no way can he change his mind, even talk to anyone or ask to be released. I believe in this completely, and my present contract with South Carolina contains these terms.
As an avid Tiger fan for most of my 14 years, I have always preferred the American League to the National. Because of this, I have never entered into any discussions about the two leagues, and I have never been willing to admit to anyone that the NL is superior.
Last June I came up with the idea that the American League has much younger players than the NL. And, while I mulled over this, SI came out with the article on the younger stars in the AL (Here Come the Young Turks, July 11). Encouraged, I wrote to each major league team asking for the team roster and the birth date of each player and then set out to work on averages. I ended up categorizing players in three groups: all players, starting players (excluding pitchers) and pitchers (four starters and two relievers). The average ages of players in the two leagues were as follows:
Breaking it up more, I decided to compare first-and second-division teams and found that the youngest teams in each league were in the second division (Mets, Reds, Red Sox and Athletics). However, the oldest teams in the NL were the Phillies and Dodgers, both contenders, while the AL's oldest teams, the White Sox and the Yankees, were fluctuating between the two divisions.
Last but not least, the American League's starting All-Stars averaged an age of 26.5 against the NL's 29.
Maybe the NL does have better players and a better brand of baseball, but the AL fans still have some hope for the years to come with their younger stars.
LISA L. ANDERSON
September 7, 1966 will go down as the most glorious day in the history of the YHA (Yankee Haters of America). On that day, the great Yankees, whom some picked to finish first (and most picked to finish in the first division), dropped all the way to the bottom of the American League behind the lowly Athletics and Red Sox. As Professor 'Enry "Iggins put it, "How simply frightful! How humiliating! How delightful!"
Williston Park, N.Y.
ON THE MOVE
Many thanks for a fine article on perhaps the most generous patron chess has ever had, Mrs. Jacqueline Piatigorsky (In Chess, Piatigorsky Is Tops, Sept. 5).
In the manner which has so long distinguished SI, Robert Cantwell has given the reader an insight into the lady behind that bastion of American chess, the Piatigorsky Foundation, one of the many reasons that chess is probably the second fastest-growing sport in the U.S. today (behind soccer, of course).
JAMES R. F. QUIRK
Ocean Park, Me.
Bob Mossman (19TH HOLE, Sept. 5) must be an old and tired man. He must be old, because he says that soccer is "dull and boring to watch." If this is so, how come 400 million people were watching or listening to the World Cup all over the world? I'm sure it wasn't raining everyplace.
Mossman has to be tired too, because bean-hunting sounds like a sport you could fall asleep over. Soccer is definitely becoming a big sport in the U.S. Thank goodness for young people.
To that Florida bean-hunter, Bob Mossman, I say, in the words of the late great W. C. Fields, "You, sir, are a Tartupple!" You are downgrading the one sport that can give U.S. sports fans a position on the international totem pole.
The loudest sports explosion of all time occurred when our 8-to-5 daily working athletes met England's greatest professional selection in the World Cup tournament of 1950 in Riode Janeiro, Brazil—and whipped them! It was like Mossman and I and his bean-hunting buddies getting together a football team and knocking off the Chicago Bears in title play. English headlines read ENGLAND DOOMED. And the world knew what they were saying, except for U.S. sports editors, who gave it token space in the back pages.
On the purely pro level, soccer is played in more countries than any other game. It has more participants, the highest-salaried stars and requires the utmost in conditioning and subjugation to united teamwork. Soccer also outdraws any other competitive game.
There are no gimmick scores. One goal is one goal, no matter where scored from or by whom...or in whose goal! No phony timeouts are interjected to slow down a hot team and rob the fans of excitement unlimited. You have to stop them on the field with your skill and effort—no rule can do it for you. And once the game starts, you are master of your fate and have to respond resourcefully to the situation at hand at the moment it occurs—and without your hands, man! That nonstop action helps make soccer the world's most exciting game.
Soccer is for people who like a fast-moving, team-spirited sport. As for Mr. Mossman's reference to soccer not being popular here, how come a soccer league is being prepared for 1967 or 1968, and why did 12,000 New Yorkers attend the U.S. Cup of Champions finals between Brazilians and Greeks? For sex appeal?
New York City
I agree with Mossman. Soccer has no typical American appeal. The ways of the game are cold, and it lacks the strategy that every armchair general wants to be a part of.
East Lansing, Mich.