Frank Deford's commentary concerning Chris Schenkel (TV TALK, May 24) was long overdue. Not only does Schenkel lack the necessary knowledge to analyze the game properly, but he is consistently slow in reporting the action.
The executives at ABC may feel secure in the knowledge that they have an apologetic, "don't-step-on-anybody's-toes" type of announcer, but the viewers appreciate a well-informed sportscaster who can stay ahead of the action, display proper timing to accentuate the excitement and have the courage to tell it like it is. Schenkel is just a big yawn.
I wish to offer a sincere thank you to Frank Deford for his brief but incisive rap on the knuckles regarding ABC's coverage of the NBA playoffs. Sporting events are best covered by those who are, or tend to be, opinionated and abrasive. Now if Chick Hearn and Howard Cosell had been calling the NBA playoffs, we would have had a happening. As it was, I merely turned down the sound and called the game myself.
Frank Deford seems to take great pleasure in criticizing the television networks for their coverage of major sports events. Not only did he blast ABC and CBS for their coverage of the NBA and ABA playoffs but, in past issues, he also has blasted NBC for its coverage of the 1970 World Series and the 1971 Super Bowl, just to mention a couple.
As far as sportscasters go, I think Chris Schenkel and Frank Gifford are two of the best.
In my book Chris Schenkel is No. 2. (He tries harder.) Marv Albert is No. 1.
As bad as Chris Schenkel is, and he is bad, I would rather listen to him, any day, than to Jack Twyman. According to Twyman's dry, computerlike analysis of the game, every time-out is an earth-shattering summit meeting. If NBA coaches knew all that Twyman credits them with knowing, there would be no losers; every game would wind up in a tie. Also, according to Twyman, NBA referees are never wrong.
In fact, Jack's sickening whitewashing of everything connected with his telecasts has completely turned me off, and I love good basketball as well as anyone.
RALPH C. YINGLING
Congratulations on a fine article covering the Dream Mile race between Martin Liquori and Jim Ryun (A Dream Comes True, May 24). After reading it, I must say that for the first time I really respect Liquori. As a follower of Ryun since his Kansas schoolboy days, I have always resented Liquori because, as he put it, "I came up and started chipping away at the monument, I became somewhat of a villain." Martin Liquori has proved himself a truly tough competitor in every sense of the word, and it's about time people gave him the credit that is his due.
New City, N.Y.
We hear that Marty Liquori and Jim Ryun plan on many more superraces in the future to settle the question of who is best. But what about all of the other milers in the world? I have a feeling that while Marty and Carol are out eating steak sandwiches and pizza, and Jim, Anne and Heather are out eating lobster, a third runner will be out with a stopwatch, training at 6,000 feet. Say, Kip Keino!
BIG-GAME HUNTER (CONT.)
The letter of self-adulation from C. J. McElroy of Inglewood, Calif. (19TH HOLE, May 24) clearly reveals the absurdity of characterizing the big-game hunter as a "dedicated and hardworking sportsman." It is quite clear that the "fierce competition" described by Mr. McElroy is not between hunter and animal but between hunter and hunter for "lifetime achievements, i.e., rare animals, most species of animal taken, most countries hunted and best trophies taken."
Where is the sport in pursuing an unknowing and defenseless animal with a weapon capable of blowing a hole in the side of a house? Where is the sport in proving that man's mechanical genius can lay waste to nature? If the big-game hunter wants to transform this slaughter into a true sport, let him pursue the animals he seeks to conquer on foot with only those weapons he is able to fashion with his own hands in the course of his pursuit. In other words, let him match his own natural abilities against the natural abilities of the animals.
I doubt that Mr. McElroy, or any other big-game hunter, is sportsman enough to pursue this course, for here the scales would be weighted against him.
ROBERT H. ALAND
I considered C. J. McElroy's letter one of the most appalling things ever printed in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. HOW anyone can write with pride of having killed large numbers of helpless animals is completely beyond my comprehension, and I find the idea of awarding trophies to commemorate this slaughter thoroughly disgusting. Especially annoying to me, in this day of dawning ecological concern, is the Weatherby award, mentioned by recipient McElroy as being given for the killing of "rare" (i.e., vanishing?) animals. It is incredible that a supposedly responsible organization can even sanction—let alone reward—the destruction of rare species.
Monterey Park, Calif.
A JUMP ON THE SEASON
Thank you for acknowledging UCLA's newest star, James McAlister (He Takes Off, He Takes It In, May 17). In addition to setting record marks in the long jump, he is the cause of a clamor here in the Los Angeles area for No. 1 in football. It is a spreading fever, and we Angelenos are expecting to hear the UCLA air horns blaring more than ever this fall, signaling touchdown after touchdown for the pride of Los Angeles, Jumpin' Jim McAlister!
Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Tex Maule's article on the nation's first spring football league (This Spring Isn't Very Green, May 10) was well received here in San Antonio. With their present winning record the Toros deserve their self-proclaimed title of "The Winningest Team in Professional Football."
It was of real interest to read of Toros Owner Henry Hight's plans to show up, team in tow, for the Cowboy-Oiler exhibition game this summer. But will either member of the Holy NFL meet the Toros on the playing field? Fat chance! King Rozelle would newer allow his underlings to suit up against a force capable of deflating the NFL myth. That is all pie in the sky, but the San Antonio Toros and their pure gut-type football are very much a reality.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT LEW
I agree that the NBA finals were sort of a farce (SCORECARD, May 10), as has been nearly every game that King Lew has ever played in, but I can't see raising the basket to 12 feet. If the goal is to prevent the big man from dominating, then let's force him to become more versatile. Put in three scoring zones instead of two, like the ABA has. A 10-foot zone around the basket is good for one point, 10 to 25 feet is two points and over 25 is three points. Let the big guys have their stuff shots but only one point per stuff. Then, if the big man is really going to be effective, he'll have to be able to shoot medium-range shots, too.
I must protest. Lew Alcindor averaged 31.7 points a game in the regular season. He may have made it look easy, but he worked for every one of his points. Wilt Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points a game in 1961-62, yet there were no threats of raising the basket or forcing him to play on one leg, despite his devastating total. What's more, Wilt's team did not win the championship. Even Lew needed plenty of help from Oscar Robertson, Bob Dandridge & Co. to get to the top of the basketball world. Lew is great, but he can't do it alone. Last year's playoffs against New York proved that. Basketball will always be a team game no matter how good the center is.
You state that the game of pro basketball is "seriously threatened" by its dependency on the big man. Sure, all of the champion basketball teams have the big guy. It is also true that the champion football teams have the superstar quarterbacks, that the champion baseball teams have the superstar pitchers and powerful sluggers and that Stanley Cup hockey teams have the great goalies.
First, college basketball tried to contain Lew by banning the dunk. Now you want pro basketball to raise the baskets to 12 feet. Poor Lew. What next?
Sun Prairie, Wis.
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