WHO'S IN FIRST?
Once again your magazine has displayed a fine sense of humor by ranking Alabama the No. 1 college football team in America ('Bama Takes Charge, Dec. 3). Alabama may be undefeated, but it certainly is not deserving of the No. 1 spot. Its high-scoring offense has been potent only because it has faced some of the worst defenses in the country. May Notre Dame have mercy on them.
The caption on the cover, "Alabama Is the Best—for Now," should have read "Alabama Is the Best—Period."
Ohio State was the No. 1 team in the nation for most of the season, but not once did the Buckeyes appear on your cover. Alabama grabs the top spot for the first time this season and there they are. It's typical.
When I saw Alabama acclaimed as No. 1 on your Dec. 3 cover, I was immediately angered. But after reading the article, I see that Ray Kennedy was merely stating the facts of life in the polls. Deep down I am sure you all realize Oklahoma is the country's top college football team.
TIMOTHY J. STORY
I suggest that you left unfinished your comparison of Oklahoma's joint opponents with bowl-bound teams (SCORECARD, Dec. 3). Both Oklahoma and Alabama played Miami of Florida. Alabama defeated the Hurricanes 43-13, while Oklahoma barely escaped with a 24-20 victory. Applying your rationale, the Tide would roll over Oklahoma by 26 points. Perverse bowl victory, indeed!
FUEL FOR THOUGHT
William Johnson's article No Fueling, the Crisis Is Here (Dec. 3) was extremely interesting and thought-provoking. As are many things, sports seem to be headed for drastic change due to the so-called energy crisis. One game that appears in immediate danger is professional baseball. I believe that the curtailment of night games may kill the sport as a spectator attraction. I'm sure that all sports enthusiasts will be sorry to see this happen.
PAUL J. HOUK
Between the current energy crisis and baseball's decline in excitement and attendance, it is time for the powers that be to realign the divisions to include such groupings as:
(1) Boston, Montreal, the Mets, the Yankees, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia;
2) the Cubs, White Sox, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee and Minnesota;
3) Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Kansas City, St. Louis and Washington; and
4) California, Houston, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco and Texas.
This would take advantage of regional rivalries while cutting down on airline fuel consumption.
CRAIG M. SCHWARTZ
North White Plains, N.Y.
Edgar Rosenbloom can't be serious about his solution for the energy crisis. Why turn on the lights when the Colts have the ball? Nothing ever happens then, anyway.
In his otherwise excellent review of the energy shortage's effect on sports William Johnson states, "Almost as soon as the first whispers of fuel shortage reached their ears, five major U.S. [auto] racing associations banded together.... Late last week this group, by this time known as the Automobile Competition Committee of the U.S., came up with...."
Let it be known that ACCUS is not a hastily organized group but America's arm of the International Automobile Federation that has been in existence since 1957. Its primary function has been to be the liaison between the FIA in Paris and the American member clubs in ACCUS (NASCAR, USAC, SCCA, NHRA and IMSA). What was formed was the National Motorsports Committee under the aegis of ACCUS.
However, whether or not Mr. Johnson is less than familiar with auto racing, he obviously has done his homework on the fuel crisis. I hope we will see more of his reports as the situation develops.
ROBERT K. ENTRIKEN JR.
The Salina Journal
FANNING THE FLAMES
I especially enjoyed your Dec. 3 issue. The articles on the energy crisis and the Atlanta Flames (Trouble in Paradise—but Not Very Mitch) caught my attention in particular, since I am a Flames season ticket-holder who makes a 210-mile round trip for every home game. Cliff Fletcher and the Boomer deserve every bit of the credit given them for putting together such a fine hockey team. With the scoring punch added this year by Tom Lysiak and Chuck Arnason, the Flames should make the playoffs. Lest I be accused of being extravagant with the nation's short supply of gasoline, I should point out that my Opel makes the trip on less than eight gallons, and I plan to spend those weekends on which there are Friday and Sunday games in Atlanta.
Robins AFB, Ga.
I was pleased to see your article on surfing (A Radical Chairman of the Boards, Dec. 3), and I hope you will devote more coverage to one of the world's most popular sports. Surfing went through an intense period of growth and hysteria in this country in the early 1960s, saw a sweeping revolution in board design and wave-riding concepts in the late 1960s and has emerged in the 1970s as a legitimate amateur and professional sport.
Worldwide surfing is growing at a startling rate. Europeans, Africans and South Americans have become very involved, to the point where a true international surfing community is now developing.
OUT OF THE CORNFIELDS
Congratulations on your excellent article about Indianapolis (A Hot Time in the Bold Town, Dec. 3). I totally agree with your conclusion that Indy is ready for major league sports of all kinds. I moved to Greater Indianapolis in 1967 after residing in St. Louis, Minneapolis and Cincinnati (all presumably major league cities), and it occurs to me that Indianapolis fans have already accomplished what none of the above could. We have profitably supported a major league basketball franchise. Remember the St. Louis Hawks, Minneapolis Lakers and Cincinnati Royals'?
Bring on the NFL! We're ready.
ROBERT F. MAY
Give my compliments to Brock Yates. It's about time somebody spoke up and said something good about Indianapolis. All we had been hearing was criticism about the Speedway. Now Mr. Yates has told it as it really is.
Congratulations to Brock Yates on his well-written article. Indianapolis has indeed arrived as a big-time sports town.
Being a native-born Hoosier living in the West, I have frequently encountered the "lighted cornfield rising out of the prairie like a collection of grain elevators with windows" attitude toward Indianapolis. Yet, after attending several sporting events in the Phoenix area, including NBA basketball, I can honestly say there is nothing to compare with the Pacers or the 500.
After reading A Hot Time in the Bold Town, I wonder why I ever left Indianapolis. It's terrific.
MRS. W. R. SUMMERS
Winter Park, Fla.
As a transplanted Hoosier, I enjoyed your article. However, you neglected to mention that beginning in February Indianapolis will be hosting that most prestigious of all participant tournaments, the American Bowling Congress. May the scores be as high as the corn.
Chula Vista, Calif.
Congratulations to Joe Marshall on his article on John Ralston and the Denver Broncos (Here's How to Win Games and..., Dec. 3). It is refreshing to see SPORTS ILLUSTRATED give Denver the recognition it so truly deserves. Denver fans have supported their team for 13 years now, and their patience is paying off. With Ralston at the helm, we can expect bigger and better things from the Broncos in the very near future. It is "inevitable."
Many thanks for the mention of one of the nation's outstanding young rodeo performers, Jim Crainer, in FACES IN THE CROWD (Nov. 19). However, the picture used was not of Crainer but another Sul Ross State University student, Lee Roy Miller Jr. of West-brook, Texas, who, like Jim, is a range-animal science major.
PHIL W. EBENSBERGER
Sul Ross State University
•Herewith SI's apologies is a picture of the real Jim Crainer.—E.D.
So the Rose Bowl decision has been made and there is joy in Columbus, anger and frustration in Ann Arbor and the Big Ten has once again embarrassed itself in front of the whole country ('Bama Takes Charge, Dec. 3). Why is it that the Big Ten is the only organization this side of the Olympics in which the winner is decided by highly partial observers rather than among the contestants themselves. Michigan would be completely Justified in demanding to know what Ohio State had done to deserve the bowl bid more than the Wolverines. Hadn't they both roared through their schedule with relative ease to arrive undefeated for their gigantic struggle in Michigan Stadium? Hadn't they both dominated national statistics? Just what was the criterion for the athletic directors' decision, anyway?
Which brings up another question. How much longer are we going to permit these games that mean so much to so many, these games that cry for a decision, to end in a tie that pleases no one, offends everyone and decides nothing? Clearly, now is the time to abolish the tie and come up with some innovative thinking about how to proceed. I suggest overtime, sudden death, a tally of most or deepest penetrations—anything but kissing your sister and calling it a day.
ROBERT L. DAWSON
A sudden-death playoff would be superior to the decision-making process by which Ohio State was chosen for the 1974 Rose Bowl. As it is, the Big Ten-Pacific Eight Rose Bowl contract deprives excellent teams from both conferences of exciting contests with other football powers. Is an NCAA playoff starting with the 16 top teams early in December really so hard to work out?
HAMNER HANNAH III, M.D.
Kansas City, Kans.
ARENAS WITH FANGS
I was thrilled that you chose to write about the "Snakepit" at North Texas State (Snake-bit in the Snakepit, Nov. 26). My home in Denton, Texas was about 100 yards away. I played basketball there as a child. I watched the Globetrotters do their thing. I've heard the local cowboys and the gentle professors rage. It was called the Men's Gym because no man of prominence would lend his name to it. The ladies wouldn't have it, so they got their own gym across campus. It is as bad as you say, and probably worse. Still, the Snakepit was one of the joys of my life. Thanks for the memory.
Fort Wayne, Ind.
Your reference to the original North Texas Snakepit, now replaced by the Superpit, suggested that the term derived from the Hopi Indian rainmaking ceremony. The origin is actually a lot more apropos than that. Doctors in 19th century England reasoned that a sane person would be driven insane if thrown into a pit full of snakes, and therefore an insane person could be shocked back to sanity in the same way. The Men's Gym at North Texas proved that the English medical men were not far wrong. Oklahoma City Coach Abe Lemons says, "You have to be nuts to be in this business," and a visit to basketball's snakepits has helped to convince more than one coach to retire to another line of work.
All I can say is Hiss! You omitted the King Cobra, The Palestra in Philadelphia. If you think its venom isn't poisonous, just ask Al McGuire.
A STEP FROM THE GHETTO
A major focus in Rick Telander's recent article on playground basketball (They Always Go Home Again, Nov. 12) was Brooklyn's Rodney Parker and his two finds: Austin Peay's great soph, Fly Williams, and Anthony Harris. The prep school that Harris mentioned in the story was Glen Springs Academy in upstate Watkins Glen, N.Y. In the past two years Glen Springs has graduated all senior members of its basketball teams to college with full scholarships. Williams and Harris were among those 15 members.
Rodney Parker sent many of those young men to Glen Springs. Once they are here the academy staff works long, hard hours to prepare them both academically and socially for this country's Austin Peays, Creightons, Arizona States, Eastern Michigans, University of Buffalos, Elmira Colleges and others. The real direction for the youth begins at the academy, which caters to under-achievers from many different backgrounds.
Mr. Telander and I know of the hundreds of young men in playgrounds such as "The Hole" who have real ability but never graduate from the large city schools, and thus never leave the ghetto. The rural atmosphere of the academy, plus individual attention to each student, provides a new forum for learning. A real story goes on every day at Glen Springs. The story continues throughout the year.
JOHN A. PULOS
Glen Springs Academy
Watkins Glen, N.Y.
You let the cat out of the bag (The Great Overland Getaway, Nov. 19). Now everyone will know that there is true joy and magnificent color in ski touring. Congratulations on a superb presentation.
M. MICHAEL BRADY
I was anxiously awaiting your article on ski touring as a help in spreading the news of this sport. But you have done a disservice to ski-touring enthusiasts, old and new. What your fashion pictorial demonstrated was exactly what we who love the sport are fighting—commercialism. We left the Alpine ski arena for the solitude of the unexploited woods, to get away, to expend our own energy and glide through the trees without chair lifts or expenses. You contradicted the principles of ski touring and showed the evils that have prostituted Alpine skiing. This was the first exposure many readers have had to cross-country skiing and it is unfortunate that the independence and tranquillity of the sport took a backseat to fashion.
Address editorial mail to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, TIME & LIFE Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.