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Original Issue


I found your article Spiking the Side-kick Issue (April 10) quite interesting. However, I don't think that your use of Bobby Charlton in this experiment was too fair a test. The soccer player spends his life trying to perfect a hard shot between the uprights a foot or two off the ground. In your test he was required to put the ball through the uprights 20 or more feet in the air—something that he has tried to avoid doing all his life. Of course, you did make mention of this in your article.

The "soccer-style" kick, as we use it here, is soccer-style only in the manner in which the foot meets the ball. No soccer player is called upon to make such a kick in his game.

I think you should have gone about 12,000 miles in the other direction. The game of Australian Rules football is much like Rugby except that there are 18 players on a side and a larger field is used. It is strictly a kicking game, with great emphasis on the field goal from placement and by dropkick. The records for this type of kick are a good 20 yards better than anything in our books. Kicks of better than 70 yards are quite common. Perhaps this is where the pros and, maybe, even the colleges should turn for talent.
Milltown, N.J.

As a medical student and former aspirant to a place-kicking career in college football, I believe that I can make a few points about human anatomy that will add some light to the soccer-style vs. American-style controversy in place-kicking.

Primarily two sets of muscles are involved in the American kick, those that extend the knee and those that flex the hip joint during the follow-through. The soccer kick uses all of these muscles and adds, with its out-side-in sweep, an entirely new set of muscles, the adductors on the medial side of the leg. In addition, the soccer style allows a less-restricted movement in cocking the knee before the kick. This movement in the American style is hampered by a direct stretching of the extensor muscles on the front of the leg. On the basis of greater muscle involvement, I would have to conclude that the soccer-style is potentially a more powerful kick.

An experimental test of this kind of qualitative conclusion is always welcomed. But, unfortunately, the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED experiment is not valid. Aside from the weight advantage enjoyed by the Americans, the fact that the soccer kicker was asked to do something he had never trained to do—i.e., kick an unfamiliar ball over, instead of under, the bar—tends to throw serious doubt on the adequacy of the contest. A better control of experimental variables would be to let Baker and Mercer challenge the Gogolaks. Even then you might conclude that some kickers are better than others, but the contest would be more interesting.

Concerning your SCORECARD note (April 17) about a giant Monopoly game scheduled to be played at Juniata College on April 29, we thought your readers might be interested in seeing a photograph (left) of the giant version of the game recently played between Mount Holyoke and Yale students here on the Mount Holyoke campus. One of the unusual features of the game was that students took the place of tokens on the big board. We think it was probably the biggest Monopoly game ever played—at least, to date.

Incidentally, the Yale team won.
South Hadley, Mass.

They say there is a jinx associated with appearing in your magazine, so Jack Nicklaus' performance in the 1967 Masters golf tournament is easily explained by his appearance on your April 10 cover.

But I thought nonsports people would be immune to the whammy. That's just not so. After reading in the same issue your article on the televising of the tournament (An Eye on the Masters), I sat down to watch Sunday's finale, and CBS botched it up. I've never heard a more confused group of people. Don't blame their incompetence on the AFTRA strike, either, since ABC managed to give beautiful telecasts of the Celtics-76ers basketball playoffs during that week. In fact, the executives doing those broadcasts were much more enjoyable to listen to than the regular sportscasters.

After watching the Pan American basketball trials (April 7, 8, 9 at the University of Minnesota) and considering the 18 choices for the Pan Am squad, I am tempted to think that several members of the Pan American selection committee must have been viewing their first basketball games. Some of the choices were so illogical that the motives of the committee might be questioned.

The Minneapolis Tribune named Earl Monroe of the NAIA, the leading scorer during the trials, and Darius Cunningham of the armed forces as the two outstanding players of the trials. Yet neither was selected for the Pan Am team. Perhaps the committee was trying to maintain a balance of white and black players. (Of the 18 men named to the team plus six alternates, 12 are white and 12 are Negroes.) But consider another case in point: the selection of Kendall Rhine (AAU, formerly of Rice) and Dan Anderson (AAU, formerly of Augsburg College in Minneapolis, chosen as an alternate) over Elvin Hayes (NCAA). Neither Rhine nor Anderson would approach stardom on a major-college team, much less overshadow a player of Hayes's ability. In fact, Anderson was the poorest player at the trials.

Considering the omission from the team of Monroe, Cunningham and Hayes (all Negroes), it seems that the committee was using the trials as a yardstick for judging some players, but not others. Monroe's Globetrotter style of ball-handling may have offended some people, but it could not detract from the fact that his scoring and several assists stamped him as an excellent ballplayer who could help any team. And Cunningham's hustle, playmaking and defensive ability went unnoticed only by the committee.

I thought your readers might like to hear about a funny incident for which your magazine was responsible.

Last December my mother started to read SI with great interest, and her interest took its toll. While I was home on vacation this spring, she had an extremely vivid dream concerning pro football. It seems she was hired as head coach of a pro team called the United Stales All-Stars. She noticed that the team was not quite as energetic as it could be and wondered what might be done to revitalize them. After much thought, she suggested that they eat dog food, consisting of horsemeat, along with a 15¢ vitamin pill. This diet was an immediate success; the team improved with great speed after only a few weeks.

My mother seemed very proud the next morning when she related her dream, because her team had gone on to win the world championship.

My mother and I are both sure it was your magazine that caused this dream, because we live in Bermuda and our only source of news concerning American football is SI. But I'll never know where she cooked up the dog food.
Concord, N.H.

I completely enjoyed Frank Deford's analyses of the games UCLA played in the NCAA basketball tournament. Frank's analyses are very similar to the findings I obtained by using the Offense Efficiency Rating System (OER), which I developed.

Here are the conclusions that I came to after studying the OER statistics for UCLA games with the University of the Pacific, Houston and Dayton:

UCLA did not exhibit a superior offense. From a total of 240 possessions of the ball in these three contests, UCLA scored 232 points. By dividing the total points by the total possessions. I found that the Bruins rated an OER of .97 points per possession. This is good—considering the caliber of opposition they met—but definitely not outstanding. Ohio State won the Big Ten title in Jerry Lucas' junior and senior years with identical 1.07 OERs, Michigan won the Big Ten title in 1965 with an average OER of 1.08 points, and Tennessee set the all-time high of 1.13 in the 1965-1966 season.

On the other hand, UCLA's defensive rating (DER) was .79 ppp. This is superior.

I have never seen one player so completely "control" the game as Lew Alcindor does. When he and Mike Warren left the contest against Dayton, UCLA's OER was 1.03, while Dayton's was only .70. During the final five minutes and 17 seconds of the game UCLA had 14 possessions and scored nine points for an OER of only .64 ppp, while Dayton had 14 possessions and scored 16 points for an OER of 1.29.
Delaware, Ohio