If Dan Jenkins believes that Miami vs. Oakland was Super Bowl VIII½ (For Openers, Super Bowl VIII½, Dec 23), then I hope he also believes that Pittsburgh vs. Oakland was Super Bowl VIII¾. Jenkins seemed to have counted the Steelers out a little too soon.
TO WIN OR NOT TO WIN
Ron Fimrite's article spanning the years 1954-74 (Way To Go, and the Way It Went, Dec. 23) really hit home. His section about the reformed sportswriter who now cares very little about winning reminds me of some local sportswriters. I wish I had a nickel for each time I have seen them decry "the winning is everything" attitude one day and the next day complain about the refereeing at a certain game. Fimrite deserves all of the plaudits I'm sure he will receive for this article.
It's about time we asked ourselves why it is so necessary to win. The pursuit of victory is never satisfied by victory alone. Its oys are always overshadowed by the fear that next time one will fail and thus descend into that lowly category of loser. Oh, what a horrible end for such a noble warrior! He did battle with the gods and emerged a mere mortal. The seasoned "loser," on the other hand, has only one wish, that he will enjoy himself. To some it seems a far less glorious goal than winning and yet to me it is all that matters.
I congratulate SI and William O. Johnson for a fine article on the most important topic, the future of sport (From Here to 2000, Dec. 23). It deals with the very meaning of sport today, or with the meaning we have allowed sport to take on. May the Never Never Game exist forever.
Just as there is a win syndrome in this country, there is also a nonwin syndrome. Each has its extremist viewpoint: Vince Lombardi's "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing" vs. George Leonard's "Winning is not only not everything winning is not anything." Surely there is also a middle ground.
There is, moreover, a difference between the proponents of these divergent views. The "winning is everything" man is not concerned with what his opponent or the public thinks of him. The "winning is not anything" man is a missionary. To him, winning is evil. He cannot believe that one can strive to win and still enjoy the game, and, yes, even be prepared to be a good loser.
We are being fed "don't keep score" medicine in ever-increasing doses, as if it were something new. Organized and impromptu games have always existed side by side. Some people have always played tennis and golf for the sake of the exercise. Kids still go to the park with a bat and ball and choose up sides. In fact, the best players are usually those who play sandlot games when an organized game is not scheduled or after the season ends.
Winning is not evil. It is a logical and integral part of the game. Playing the game to the utmost of one's capabilities, however, is equally important. It is indeed better to have played fairly and lost than not to have played at all, but having been good enough to win is even better. Laying aside the psychological and sociological arguments, winning is positive, losing is negative. In fact, losing isn't anything. But to each his own.
CHARLES T. SESS
RICK AND THE WARRIORS
Ron Reid's article on Rick Barry, the Golden State Warriors and General Manager Dick Vertlieb (The Golden State of Rick Barry, Dec. 16) was as exciting as the brand of basketball the team has played this year. As a native Baltimorean and lifelong NBA and Bullets fan now stationed in Northern California, I've become caught up in the excitement of this year's Warriors. Last season I went to Golden State games to see the other teams, but this year I drive the 180 miles round-trip to Oakland to see the Warriors and the "new" Rick Barry, who seems a sure bet to be named the NBA's Most Valuable Player.
Who says the "new chemistry" won't "prove potent enough" to bring Golden State the NBA title this year? I think the Warriors have finally stumbled onto a successful formula.
Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.
Walter Tevis' piece Coolest Hand with a Cue (Dec. 16) was exceptionally well written, even by SI's high standards. Earlier this month I had the pleasure of covering the Florida leg of the Pabst-Brunswick 14.1 continuous pool championship at the University of Florida. It was sports action at its best, made all the more enjoyable because of its esoteric nature. But the 500 or so fans who packed the ballroom of the student union for the finals were not there for esoterica. They came to see good pool, and they got it.
Let's have more stories on pro pool. Monday Night Billiards might not be such a farfetched dream after all.
I was shocked to see you mention Monday Night Billiards as a dream of pool sharks. Not that I have anything against pool, but if the No. 1 sport in the form of the WFL can't hack it, how in the world would billiards ever survive?
In the SCORECARD item "Wheels That Take Wing" (Dec. 16) you state that there are few forms of transportation as inefficient as the bicycle. This simply is not true. Dr. Vance A. Tucker, a research professor at Duke University, did a study on modern forms of transportation and concluded that the 10-speed bicycle is the most efficient means of modern travel. A bicycle uses half the energy required to walk the same distance, and a bicycle uses 92 times less energy than a Cadillac traveling at 55 mph and 48 times less energy than a Volkswagen traveling at the same speed.
You also state that eventually somebody will go 100 mph on a bike. In 1941 the late Alfred Letourneur, a six-day rider of the old school, rode a specially built Schwinn Paramount at 108.97 mph. Recently Dr. Allen Abbott of California went 138.674 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Both Letourneur and Abbott rode behind an automobile equipped with a shield to help break the wind.
Hats off to John Underwood for his outstanding article (Bowl-Bound and Bowled Over, Dec. 23) on the ridiculous bowl setup. It was true to form and greatly appreciated. One has to wonder about the leadership in the Big Ten from Commissioner Wayne Duke and the athletic directors under him and the old-fashioned policies they seem to follow. I'm sure there are a few seniors on this year's Michigan team who have wondered about it for three years.
John Underwood's comparison of Big Ten and Southeastern Conference records with respect to outside conference competition is a lot like comparing apples and oranges. Of the 30 games the Big Ten played out of league, 11 were against teams that were ranked in the Top 20 at the time the games were played. The SEC played 50 out-of-league games and only four opponents were ranked. While lesser-regarded Big Ten teams were upsetting ranked powers like Nebraska, UCLA and Notre Dame, SEC teams were taking turns beating UT-Chattanooga, Florida State and Memphis State. Yes, seven SEC teams went to bowl games, but at least three of these teams got to go because they guaranteed ticket sales to bowls held in the southeast U.S., not because they distinguished themselves on the playing field.
Hill AFB, Utah
I would like to congratulate the NCAA on its fine job of selecting the Camellia Bowl in Sacramento as the site for the Division II college football national championship between Central Michigan and Delaware, which Central Michigan won 54-14.
Both teams traveled thousands of miles at great expense to their respective universities, and I'm sure they were thrilled to find they would get to play in a crumbling stadium, with an expressway overpass at one end and without a blade of grass on the field. The selection of such superior facilities must have taken a great deal of time and effort.
EYES HAVE IT
You say (SCORECARD, Dec. 23), "Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has resorted to goggles to forestall further scratching of his retina."
The writer obviously meant cornea not retina, the cornea being the outermost vulnerable area that could be scratched. A deep penetration of the eye would have to occur in order to affect the retina.
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