I wish to thank you and Bob Ottum for the fine article on Miss Peggy Fleming (Crystal and Steel on the Ice, March 13). I am pleased to see that Mr. Ottum and I are on the same wave length in thinking that watching Peggy Fleming go through her program is one of the more rewarding aspects of figure skating.
Miss Fleming is beauty and poetry on ice, and it is a delight to watch her skate. I also want to compliment Photographer John Zimmermann for his pictures of Peggy. They are among the finest I have ever seen. But I would like to register a complaint with the one who selects your covers. Anyone who picks the Beau Brummel of baseball, Jim Nash, over the beauty of Peggy Gale Fleming needs both his head and his eyes examined, and fast.
PETER G. BROECKEL
Convent Station, N.J.
We of the Colorado College Phi Delta Theta Red Barons would like to thank SI for its article about our hockey coach, Miss Peggy Fleming. This article and her fine coaching got us mentally ready for our game Sunday, March 12, and we won our first of the year 2-0. With our excellent coaching staff returning next year, we are looking forward to another hard-fought season.
THE RED BARONS
Hooray! The Chicago Black Hawks are champs. Having been a Black Hawk fan for the past six years, I have never been more pleased with their performance. Pete Axthelm's article, No Foldo in Chicago (March 20), was great. All I hope the Hawks do now is walk away with the Stanley Cup.
The Chicago Black Hawks have coasted to the championship. The monkey is off their back, and the stage is set for another classic choke when they go for Lord Stanley's cup.
When the Hawks invaded Toronto on March 18, Mr. Axthelm accused the Leafs of rough tactics and holding, but the only things the Leafs held were Chicago's well-balanced lines as they breezed to victory.
However, Bobby Hull potted No. 50, and the Toronto fans proved once again that they are the fairest and most appreciative spectators in North America by giving the Golden Jet a thunderous ovation that even he won't forget.
The Hawks have conquered the Ides of March, but a warning to the Windy City: El Puncho is mad north northwest, and when April draws near he knows a hawk from a handsaw.
Your article on the Chicago Black Hawks amazes me. After quoting Pierre Pilote, Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull as saying that the credit for winning the championship rests not on the stars but on a great team effort, you go ahead and write an article on Pilote, the Scooters and Hull. Granted these men deserve every word of publicity devoted to them, but what about the lesser stars?
I am referring specifically to Lou Angotti and Ken Hodge, the reserve forwards of the Hawks. Innumerable are the times when these men have come off the bench and sparked a previously stale Hawk team to victory. In the game that clinched the title for the Hawks, a 5-0 whitewash of the Leafs, these two men scored four of the goals.
What's more, they are as popular as they are valuable. Every time Angotti scores the stadium goes into delirium. My hat is off to Lou Angotti and Ken Hodge, supersubs on a superteam.
TRIO OF HEROES
Your article on Dave Patrick (First Blood of a Classic Duel, March 20) was an extremely bad, one-sided article. First of all, I don't see how Gwilym S. Brown can call Patrick the true hero of the 1967 NCAA indoor track championships. It took as much courage for Jim Ryun to do what he did. I think they both should be called heroes, and they both should be commended for exemplifying our American athletes. I think that it would have been a much better race if Ryun and Patrick had run their half-miles when both were fresh. Then it could be decided who is better at that distance.
It also takes a good sport to do what Ryun did in his loss. It shows what our whole American system of athletics is really for: the development of good sportsmanship among athletes.
Nevertheless, I think the setup of the NCAA indoor championships could be better organized, and a day or two could be added to the meet. It isn't right for an athlete to have to run all his races in a single day. I know the competition is tough, but I don't think that one man should almost have to kill himself by running too many races just to compete in them.
If you are trying to tell me that even if Jim Ryun, the pending world outdoor record holder in the 880 at 1:44.9, had been fresh to run against Dave Patrick at the NCAA indoor championships on March 10, he still wouldn't have won, then I'm afraid that I vehemently disagree with you.
In your article on the NCAA championships and the Patrick-Ryun duel, you failed to mention another hero of the meet. Wisconsin's Ray Arrington smashed the 1,000-yard record by two full seconds. Although only a sophomore, Arrington has set an NCAA record that many experts feel will stand for a long time, unless Arrington himself breaks it. It seems to us that Arrington's feat is more important than Charlie Greene's "not getting his usual explosive start."
ROD DEN BOER
JOHN M. GARTLAND
You should be commended on your foresight in the article, In from the Three I League (Jan. 30). Southern Illinois University proved to the nation that it can play basketball with the best, and you discovered it—second, after the Saluki fans, but before the rest of the country. Anyone who watched the NIT now knows which is the best team in the country in 1967.
AT IT AGAIN
While watching the National Invitation Tournament championship on television, March 18, I was sad to see the free flow of the game interrupted by "official" time-outs so that commercials could be inserted into the program. It is a rather bad commentary on the athletic organizations that they allow commercialization to control the pace of an amateur event. In this day and age when professional sports are completely under the domineering control of the advertising industry it is pathetic to see the same thing creeping into amateur athletics.
WALTER B. HOLLAND JR.
THE PEOPLE, YES
I would like to tell you how much I enjoyed reading Robert Boyle's article on greyhound racing (Noisy Chase Discreetly Done, March 20). Having owned greyhounds for a number of years, I find it truly heartwarming to see the Capone stigma slipping away from a wonderful sport. I was a proponent in 1946 of a bill to legalize pari-mutuel betting on dog racing here in California, and the biggest single objection we faced in our campaign was the underworld connection with dog racing of the '30s. My congratulations to Glen Gaverick, owner, and Ray Randle, campaigner of Discreetly. As the old saying goes, horse racing is the sport of kings, and dog racing is the sport of the people.
H. C. STEVENSON
SOFTENING THE JINGLE-JANGLE
I have had an idea which I have tried to interest some professional golfers in, with hopes they might wedge it up through the PGA officialdom. But bureaucratic inertia being what it is, I suspect that a better approach might be a sideways angle through you.
It concerns the lack of any consistent and logical rating system for the professional golfer. Even under our capitalistic system, money-winning seems to me more suitable for racehorses as a measure of ability than for skilled and disciplined athletes. As the prize scale goes up and up, a certain gaudy vulgarity begins to intrude.
I have the feeling that a fair formula can be devised which, paradoxically, uses prize money as the base, yet will serve to de-emphasize the increasingly shrill jingle-jangle of the cash registers. As a novelist I would hate to be rated on the basis of my earnings each year, loudly announced. I imagine that there is an equivalent queasiness among the gypsy brethren of the PGA.
Let us limit the rating system to PGA sponsored tournaments. Let us consider, in each year, the total available prize monies in all such sponsored tournaments as 100%. I assume that the old records in the archives are accurate and available, and I suspect that the right year to start would be 1921, the fourth year of the PGA Tournament, the first year that Hagen won it.
Let us say that in order to be given a rating in any given year a professional—as with the computation of baseball batting averages—must enter a certain percentage of PGA sponsored tournaments.
Now, obviously, a pertinent factor, other than total prize monies available, is the number of professionals accredited to the tour each year. Unless that factor is added, some of the giants of the past will have yearly and lifetime ratings which could never be approached. Take an example to sec how it works. I am inventing these figures: let us assume that in 1923, 25 accredited professionals competed for a total of $60,000 spread over 10 PGA sponsored tournaments. Taking $60,000 as 100%, a base would be 4% of the total available.
Let us assume that in 1968 we have 500 accredited professionals and $5 million spread over 40 sponsored tournaments. Taking $5 million as 100% we have a base of .2%.
Both the 4% and the .2%, representing $2,400 and $10,000 respectively are what we could expect from an absolutely even division of all prize monies among all contestants. So, to put them in parity, we give both the 4% of 1923 and the .2% of 1968 a value of 100.
Thus, the man who won $12,000 in the 1923 season would have a season rating of 500. The man who wins $50,000 in 1968 will have a season rating of 500.
Naturally, the historical data will have to be run through a computer to see if additional adjustments are required, due to some giant of the past making a record no one can touch. It is possible that due to the current practice of a "prize" for making the cut, the annual computation of total prize monies should be restricted to the prizes as listed for the top 20 in each tournament.
The simple beauty of this would be that the point value of the top slots in each tournament can be computed in advance. Let us imagine that Mr. Palmer is lining up a long putt for a bird and fourth-place money on the final green of the final tournament he will enter in year X.
Which do you like, over the boob tube:
"If Arnie makes this putt, it will bring his winnings this year to $115,800, just $950 ahead of Jack Nicklaus, and it will bring his lifetime winnings to..."
Or: "As we have told you, fourth place in this tournament is worth 7.4 performance points, and if he sinks it, he'll wind up this tour with 1,121.3, two points ahead of Walter Hagen's record, which has stood since 1927."
There would be three records to shoot at: highest points per tour, lifetime average and lifetime point accumulation.
I suspect that this would be an excellent move for the whole profession right now. The public accumulation of riches does not make for heroes in the classic sense. They arc made by a season 6.4 yards per carry by a Jimmy Brown, by rebounds in the tall man's game, by the lifetime ERA of a Gomez or a Wynn. A man likes to match himself against the greats of both now and then on the basis of some acceptable constant which discounts the growing richness of the game.
JOHN D. MACDONALD