BEST FEET FORWARD
I take offense at your statement that USC's Anthony Davis is "the country's most electrifying running back" (Undefeated but Improving, Oct. 1), as any Buckeye fan would. This is not because of traditional loyalty, but because I have seen the metamorphosis of another fine athlete from one September to the next. Davis rates a nine on any scale of 10, but Ohio State's Archie Griffin is the best hip-swiveler I have ever seen.
I have sat back long enough. First, ABC-TV comes out with a show predicting USC's Anthony Davis as the next Heisman Trophy winner, then SI gives him a cover story. As an Arizona State fan, I can only say poor Woodrow Green. After a slow start against Oregon and injuries that caused him to miss the Washington State game, Woody was ready for Colorado State. Although he played little (ASU put the game away early), he still gained 96 yards in nine carries and scored two touchdowns. Green definitely has the credentials of a true candidate for the Heisman award but ASU's exposure nationwide is minimal.
You have yet to say anything about 5'8", 181-pound Don Reynolds of Oregon. He has been leading the Pacific Eight in rushing and now is averaging 4.6 yards a carry and 113 yards per game. He may not be the best, but he sure is better than Anthony Davis.
You have made up your mind that Anthony Davis is "the best of the best." But after three games A.D. perhaps ranks among the top 200 rushers in the country. So how about letting the 1973 statistics speak, rather than past glories and opinion? And while you seek the true "best of the best" you might veer your attention toward one D. C. Nobles of the University of Houston ( Veer Meets Son of Veer, Oct. 1).
I was glad to see your cover of USC's Anthony Davis, who, in my opinion, is the best college rusher since O.J. Simpson.
San Jose, Calif.
In answer to your SCORECARD item ("Work Ethic," Oct. 1) on the proposed Eastern College Athletic Conference postseason basketball tournament:
1) The primary objective of our member colleges has been, and always will be, the enhancement of the total educational experience, in which athletics play a vital and important role for the participants, regardless of the varied financial-aid policies administered by our member institutions.
2) We continue to be proud of the classroom records and athletic successes of our member colleges and students, and have every intention of continuing to pursue these educational objectives through promotion of intercollegiate athletics under the guidelines established by member-college faculty representatives.
3) Unfortunately, financial problems beset everyone in higher education, including intercollegiate athletic departments and the ECAC. However, the basic reason for fostering ECAC basketball competition is our genuine belief that this type of program is a justified and much sought-after goal for our participants and member colleges.
4) For 34 years the ECAC traditionally has encouraged and promoted postseason-championship competition for its 213 member colleges. We were never under the impression that the ECAC was exploiting the participants.
5) Your statement that only 16 of our 213 schools will be in the tournament is misleading, since the ECAC already sponsors postseason basketball tournaments for its 152 college-division teams.
6) The 39 major independent basketball colleges of the ECAC overwhelmingly support the concept of tournament play as a more desirable process for NCAA championship qualification than the present "committee room" system.
Eastern College Athletic Conference
New York City
I must object to your statement in SCORECARD: "The prime reason why a scholarship athlete is in college is not to study but to play for the college." I personally know several scholarship athletes who are in college primarily to learn. I will be entering college next fall and probably will have an athletic scholarship; however, I am going not in order to swim for the college but to learn from it.
On the cover of your Oct. 1 issue is USC's Anthony Davis, a fine person and a good athlete. In his article Undefeated but Improving John Underwood says that Davis is also a good student. Yet in SCORECARD of the same issue you point out how hypocritical it is to believe that college players are actually students. Do you suppose Davis earned those grades by working hard and attending class? Or is Underwood contributing to that hypocrisy with his statement about Davis?
BLACKOUTS VS. NO-SHOWS
In reference to Jerry Kirshenbaum's fine article Chirp-Chirp, Crunch-Crunch (Oct. 1) about the new TV blackout rule, I just can't find it in my heart to sympathize with Pete Rozelle and the various NFL owners or mourn with them the loss of concession and parking fees due to the no-shows, because it is a problem partly instigated by themselves. Maybe now that they are losing a little money the owners will attempt to please the forgotten fan at the ball park. At present, going to a game is an arduous and expensive excursion. A one-to two-hour delay in traffic is unavoidable for New England Patriots games. It is $12 before you can enter the playing grounds ($10 for a ticket and $2 more for parking). If that is not enough, we New Englanders are faced with another aggravation: we are prohibited from bringing liquids of any kind onto the premises. Management's explanation was fear of people drinking too much, but when the choice of drinks inside is limited to a 90¢ beer or an 80¢ Coke (no joke), you cannot help but feel there is another motive. It should be obvious that with these kinds of conditions, the owners are trying our patience and asking us to watch the tube.
The lifting of professional football home-game blackouts has had a detrimental effect on the quality of football available for weekly TV viewing. One of the advantages of watching TV coverage of professional football prior to the lifting of the home-game blackouts was the exposure to various teams in the NFL in a constantly changing weekly format. Now one is limited to viewing the home team(s) play week after week, possibly, as in New York, for an entire season. No matter what sort of loyalty one may feel for "his" team, the prospect of 14 straight weeks of Giants and Jets is not exactly something to look forward to with enthusiasm. I say bring back the blackouts so that the TV viewer may once again enjoy pro football.
While I was a student at the University of North Carolina, several home basketball games were televised. Tickets to the games were free to students who had athletic-fee books, but you had to stand in line for hours in the cold to get one. And we stood. All the home games were sold out. Maybe what the NFL needs is an alumni association.
Culver City, Calif.
I have nothing but praise for the work of William Johnson and Jerry Cooke in exploring sport in China. Faces on a New China Scroll (Sept. 24 and Oct. 1) was startlingly informative. Only one complaint. Why wasn't this a cover story? In the long run, our understanding of the People's Republic of China will be of far more significance than a pennant race.
Congratulations to Photographer Jerry Cooke for his fine work on sport in China. In particular, I was impressed by his remarkable portrait of the young Chinese swimmer. He caught the beautifully delicate determination on her face. Too often the excellent photography that makes your magazine unique is taken for granted.
Surely all of your readers were amazed by William Johnson's report on what life is like in modern China. It is difficult—if not impossible—for Americans to believe, for instance, Johnson's quote from a Chinese basketball coach: "It is true that sometimes we are awarded modest banners for winning, but I do not know where they are. Perhaps in a desk drawer [italics mine]. We consider friendship first, learning good technique second, victory banners third or perhaps even less."
Obviously, these are people of a great nation who are going places and doing things, even though they have a philosophy of obeisance to a supreme dictator—a philosophy that is abhorrent to us but one that we cannot ignore. How do you understand such a dilemma? It beats me, but as a former newspaperman, I can't help but say that this article is one of the best I have ever read.
I greatly enjoyed your article on sport in China. I believe that we can learn at least one thing from the Chinese. For the most part we Americans put more emphasis on the outcome of a sporting enterprise than on the process of building it. The Chinese, on the other hand, do not think there is much importance in who wins or loses. Instead, they believe that by improving their bodies, they are advancing the socialist revolution.
I am thoroughly against the infiltration of politics into sports. But like the Chinese, I believe that we should rind more significance in the experiences and personal growth that go with participating in sports. The outcome has no bearing.
The sports particular people participate in, what they seek from them and their attitudes toward their opponents and themselves often lie beyond the level of understanding provided by official studies of a country. William Johnson's beautifully written article on China gives us an insight into more than three-quarter billion of our fellow inhabitants of this globe. Thank you for it.
J. WALTER DICKSON
At the Rate We're Going, Goodby Fish (Sept. 24) is an excellent article on the plight of our fisheries. The evidence presented by John R. Clark and William Brownell is only the tip of the iceberg. The scientific literature is filled with scholarly studies bearing out the findings presented. Yet the big power companies insist on more studies costing thousands of dollars when the money should be going for closed systems as advocated by Clark and Brownell. Thanks for letting scientists have their say.
RICHARD K. WALLACE JR.
Department of Marine Sciences
University of Puerto Rico
Mayag√ºez, Puerto Rico
Robert H. Boyle's article is a Vonnegutian description and prediction of a life in our not-too-distant future in which man will be perhaps the only species able to exist on this planet outside a zoo. But it also points indirectly to the paradox of present land use. In a time when rising taxes are a crucial issue, is it necessary to spend so much money and cause so much havoc with the environment to bring new lands into production (as in the case of the California Water Plan) while at the same time subsidizing other farmers for keeping their already productive lands out of production? It seems the taxpayers are being billed twice for the same goods.
As one who fishes the Delta at least 100 times a year, I know the spots where fish once were caught. I have a fast boat, and in one day I can fish the Sacramento, the San Joaquin, the bays, sloughs and lakes. But I was out for 10 hours yesterday and not one fish. My sum total from September '72 to September '73 is one sturgeon and three striped bass. What industry has failed to ruin, thirsty Southern California has destroyed. I am nearly 67, so my tears are for the young who will never know the thrills of hooking a "keeper." They are gone, as is much else in this time of too little, too late.
J. P. GARVIE
I have to agree with Mr. Boyle: the situation is getting completely out of hand. Man uses nature's resources as though there were no tomorrow. I am presently living in Ohio but am formerly from Norwalk, Conn., on Long Island Sound. As a boy I spent many summer days catching bluefish, striped bass, etc. But I know now that when I move back to Connecticut my fishing days will be numbered. As long as this country keeps up its materialistic ways, things will continue to get worse.
I just hope that the people who live inland also will read this excellent article, for if the situation is to be rectified, it will take a joint national effort.
Tom Landry is not quite the innovator you make him out to be in your scouting report on the Dallas Cowboys (Sept. 17). That "nice piece of flimflam" he perfected, a flanker in motion toward the ball, has been used successfully at Harvard since 1971 when Joe Restic brought his multiple offense with him from Canada. So when Landry uses a quarterback-in-motion play for the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl, you'll know where he got the idea. It worked for us against Yale two years ago.
JOHN L. POWERS
TOO MANY COOKS
I was quite surprised when someone pointed out to me the story on Muhammad Ali (Jawful Test on the Mountain, Sept. 3) and the reference to "his father's" Rules of the Kytchen.
These rules were written by me and copyrighted. I am at a loss to understand why your good magazine handles your facts in such a capricious manner. Your story states that the rules were the work of Ali's father. I only hope that my "work" in the future will be as effortless as his.
I sincerely trust that his father and your fine publication will not take credit for my literary endeavors.
CHARLES F. CLARK
Tip'n Twinkle Inc.
Here is a further suggestion to augment Tex Maule's proposed remedies for pro football (No Boo-Boos Makes for Ho-Hums, Sept. 17): introduce into the NFL the Canadian Football League rouge or single point. If the ball is punted over the opponents' dead-ball line or into the opposing team's end zone and the defense fails to return the ball back over the goal line either by a run or by kicking on the run, one point is awarded to the punting team. This single point can, of course, prove very decisive in close contests.
At any rate, before the East German girls' swimming team arrives in California next summer replete with "membrane-thin" swimsuits (A Big Splash by the Mighty M√§dchen, Sept. 17), all American spectator sports had better begin to think of some reviving trends.
I find I must agree with Tex Maule's evaluation of pro football. It is becoming a dreadful bore. But the causes of this situation are not all from within. There is a "new" game that sport fans find more interesting. It is fast and exciting. It has power and finesse. And best of all it is not run by a clock that can be stalled out. It is called baseball, and it is still the best game in town.
K. M. BOTHAM
I was disappointed to see that your pro football expert Tex Maule has become a member of the alarmist "we need more offense" school, as are too many football and baseball executives these days. Why should these people panic at the development of good defensive play? Tight, well-played defensive contests are just as satisfying to knowledgeable fans as slugfests. The interception in football and the last-second, warning-track grab in baseball have an excitement all their own.
The balance between offense and defense in any sport seems to shift back and forth as new techniques are developed on first one side, then the other. Why disturb this natural cycle by monkeying with the rules? The integrity of the record book demands that the rules be protected from those who are more concerned with molding a marketable (though artificial) product than with enjoying the subtleties of an old and still fascinating sport.
MONDAY NIGHT EXCUSES
Now that Monday night football is again upon us, I wish to share the following with any of your readers who may feel a need to justify watching yet another game after seeing as many as half a dozen over the weekend.
Last season I experimented with a plan to complete one constructive household task during each Monday evening game. This is relatively simple to do. For one thing, we are all aware that the paramount element in the Monday night entertainment is the commentary and conversation of the Theatrical Three. Moreover, should a big play occur when your eyes are focused elsewhere, there is always instant replay (which may show the play more clearly than the live shot, since a good play often fakes not only the defense but Camera One as well).
So you choose a task that is not too noisy and which tends to keep you within eyeshot of the tube. For those of us blessed with homes so small that the set is viewable from the kitchen sink, washing the weekend dishes works well. Also good is dusting the room where the TV sits, as well as running the carpet sweeper. The vacuum cleaner, needless to say, is out. I have also experimented successfully with figuring out the monthly bank statement, repairing a broken radio (you test it during commercials) and pasting trading stamps. The possibilities are limitless.
The positive results include, in addition to the aforementioned justification, a certain amount of conditioning for mundane tasks and a somewhat neater home. They also effectively counter those charges of nonproductivity often leveled by those who really fail to understand. These plans are, however, automatically preempted by undivided attention to the game any time the Redskins are on.
Chapel Hill, N.C.
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