DEAR TEX: (CONT.)
Once again the national attention focuses on the Presidential primary ballots. Upon reading Tex Maule's open letter to Pete Rozelle (Dear Pete: Feb. 5), I began to entertain the thought of a national election for Commissioner of Professional Football. The Ardent Football Lovers Party, whose membership must nearly equal the legal-aged voting population, undoubtedly would enter the name of Tex Maule as its favorite son.
Hearty congratulations to Mr. Maule for a most provocative analysis of an ever-enlarging sore on the American spirit of equality in athletic competition. He has surely-expressed the sentiments of millions of football worshippers. It is indeed unfortunate that Mr. Maule's wisdom will, in all likelihood, penetrate the contemporary system no further than Pete Rozelle's magazine rack.
Come now, Tex! Professional football is far from being in imminent danger of becoming a big bore for two very elementary reasons that have nothing to do with the advent of TV exposure or the esthetics of a "vital, competitive game."
The appeal of pro football lies in 1) the availability, to anyone who can read a newspaper or a "sheet," of the betting line giving the amount of points by which one team is favored to defeat another, and 2) the availability of ye olde corner bookmaker, who will be happy to give you $100 back for every $110 you care to wager that the Cowboys will beat the Browns by more than four points or vice versa. The appeal of the Sunday TV doubleheader is the age-old gamblers' lament, "double up to catch up."
Did anyone really think that the Raiders could give the Packers a decent game, let alone defeat them? Yet millions of TV viewers stayed at their sets simply to see if Green Bay would beat Oakland by more than the 14-point spread and, thus, whether they would collect or pay.
I'm sure Commissioner Rozelle understands this all too well, and I suspect Mr. Maule does, also.
CAREY H. MAY
I thought it was a tremendous article, with one exception. I believe that the Chicago Bears should have been placed in the same division with Green Bay, L.A., Dallas and Baltimore, because the record we had this year is not indicative of our team's strength.
New York City
OUT OF THE DEPTHS
William Johnson's article (Collision on the New Underground Railroad, Feb. 12) graphically brings to the serious attention of all sports fans the degrading lengths to which athletic departments will go to field a winning team.
It is a tragic commentary on our schools' sports and academic systems and on those directly or indirectly responsible for this travesty. Willfully or unknowingly they are fomenting the ever-increasing racial overtones in sports.
R. L. VAN FOSSAN
Your recent articles on the proposed Olympic boycott and the so-called Bob Presley incident have been both immature and irresponsible. Sports are as subject to racism as any other aspect of American life, and your magazine's Do Not Disturb sign does not change that fact in the least. No calm, rational arguments against the boycott have come from SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
The issues raised by both of these incidents are social, gentlemen, and must be dealt with accordingly. Tommie Smith, Lee Evans and Bob Presley are athletes, true, but their problems are no different from those of 22,000,000 other black Americans. The question is not: "How can we disguise the race question so it won't disrupt sports?" but "How can we eliminate it altogether?" White Americans are afraid to confront this question, as evidenced by the outraged letters from your readers. SPORTS ILLUSTRATED itself is no exception.
Smith and Evans, despite their ability, are under no more of an obligation to compete at Mexico City than was Ford to challenge Ferrari last year at Le Mans. But even if they were, would this eliminate the reasons for their protest? Clearly not. Similarly, leaving Bob Presley in the ghetto (who cares if he ends up in jail, right, Mr. Johnson?) would not answer the question of whether blacks are discriminated against at the University of California. Neither would it be a very realistic solution to the problem if it does exist.
The sports world has congratulated itself for 20 years for allowing Jackie Robinson to play major league baseball. Isn't it time you pulled your heads out of the sand?
STEPHEN S. WALTERS
Bob Presley has had a crack at six high schools, one junior college and now the University of California. I am sick and tired of hearing a man and his actions defended just because he came from a disadvantaged background. Too many truly great people came from the same kind of background to make this argument hold any water.
I would like to thank you in the name of Canada for your great appraisal of Canada's Nancy Greene, the women's World Cup holder (The Winter Olympics, Feb. 5). The 24 words that you allotted her didn't seem very appropriate but, after all, you are American and don't seem to pay much attention to anything at all that occurs in Canada.
West Vancouver, B.C.
Probably the most dangerous job at the Olympics is presenting a gold medal to an American with De Gaulle standing around.
JOHN J. LYONS
Thanks a lot for your item in SCORECARD (Feb. 12) on Poteet Canyon's problems with Jay Newtown. I have been enjoying this put-on about the Olympic spirit and the fortunes of real-life Modern Pentathlon Hopeful John Dupont of Newtown Square, Pa. But, according to today's paper, Poteet is only planning to see Jay "improve his horsemanship." So while I'm looking forward to the usual time-consuming unraveling of the story, you give us the plot and blow the whole bit. Thanks a lot!
Thank you for the warm manner in which the Olympics in the comics came off in the current SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
New York City
Next year in the National Basketball Association a new team, representing Milwaukee, will finish last in the Eastern Division. Another new team, representing Phoenix, will probably trail In the West, though it will get stiff competition from Seattle, San Diego, and Chicago, the current expansion teams, which, at this writing, are playing at a torrid .297.
The new teams will do poorly because of the NBA's unfair expansion rules, which make it impossible for them to get good players. It seems rather obvious that a better plan than the current one (which allows the established teams to reserve at least seven players) would be one in which the two division champions would protect, say, five men, the second-and third-place finishers six, and the others seven. This plan would lead to better expansion teams, and the league in general would have far better balance. It might even be possible for a first-year expansion team to finish near the top of its division. The new expansion teams won't challenge the leaders for many years, using the current plan.
Also, the NBA might consider giving the first and second draft choices to its expansion teams. This year Milwaukee and Phoenix will choose seventh and eighth and will see such stars as Elvin Hayes and Westley Unseld drafted before they finally get to pick. By allowing the expansion teams to draft first, the league would give them not only some young talent to work with, but also a gate attraction where none may exist otherwise.
Certainly if the NBA intends, as announced, to add six teams within the next three years, some drastic rule changes are needed. As it is now, the expansion teams have only one event to look forward to: Lew Alcindor's graduation. And when that does occur, Lew will be able to play for only one of them.
Monterey Park, Calif.
Thank you for your recent mention of the Duquesne Dukes basketball team and Student Congress (SCORECARD, Jan. 29). However, the boycott of Pepsi was what would be called in diplomatic circles an "unfortunate incident." The motion to boycott Pepsi was considered in great haste, and an atmosphere of excitement over the outstanding performance of the team prevailed. We later found out that it was not Pepsi's fault that Duquesne games were no longer being broadcast. Of course, we immediately rescinded our ill-advised legislation and would now like to publicly express our apologies to the Pepsi-Cola Company and thank them for their consideration to the team and the university over the past years.
ANTHONY S. DEFRANK
Vice-president, Student Congress