RAVES FOR A BRAVE
After living in Buffalo all my life, I am convinced of the city's devotion to professional sports. And I'm very grateful that you have seen fit to give Randy Smith the national attention he has so long deserved (Now Randy Is a Dandy, March 31). For four years Buffalo basketball fanatics have watched their hero rise from the small-college ranks to stardom in the NBA. John Papanek has done justice to an athlete who has run circles around Walt Frazier, Jo Jo White and all the other super guards in the league. During a year in which the Braves have lost two starting forwards and a starting guard to injury or illness, Smith has been the sparkplug in a sometimes sluggish offense. The name Randy Smith means electricity. Buffalo has always known it; now the world knows.
I have been associated with athletics at Buffalo State College and a follower of the Braves since their entry into the league, and after seeing Randy play for a total of seven years, I have yet to tire of watching him. He shows a new move almost every time he walks onto the basketball court.
If memory serves, you once listed Randy Smith in FACES IN THE CROWD (Feb. 1, 1971). He is no longer a face in the crowd.
Sports reporting has drastically changed over the years, as shown by your willingness to expose the fact that Randy Smith's mother is living on welfare. Like it or not, today's athlete lives in a fishbowl; the fan wants an insight into the athlete beyond the arena. Congratulations on a fine story.
New York City
Congratulations on a fabulous article on the AIAW Tournament (New Era for Delta Dawns, March 31). Those of us who are Delta State Lady Statesmen fans have been waiting all year for this tournament, because we knew that the girls could win the whole thing. We are very proud of Coach Margaret Wade's team. We believe next year SI should run more articles on women's basketball. If you have never seen a game in person, you do not know what you are missing. These girls really hustle.
You did it again, and again you are to be commended. Sarah Pileggi's article on the AIAW national basketball tournament was excellent. It had style, journalistic sophistication and really portrayed the thrill and excitement of the entire tournament (I was there).
When sports historians record the successful beginning of women's intercollegiate athletics in America, they will surely note the significant contribution of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS
On March 24, the morning of the Ali-Wepner fight, the postman here in Luxembourg delivered my copy of your March 24 issue. I was anxious to see what Mark Kram had to say in his preview (They Have Kept Him in Stitches). A young Luxembourgian secretary in our office was looking over my shoulder as I removed the mailing wrapper, revealing a profusely sweating Chuck Wepner on the cover. I found it somewhat prophetic when she asked in stone-faced seriousness, "Why is this man crying?"
MARK S. KRAMER
I congratulate Ron Reid on his article Jipcho Was Socko (March 31). Ben Jipcho was far and away the star of the meet. I feel, though, that the meet would have been a success even without his outstanding performances in the mile and two mile. Anytime top athletes compete there are bound to be many fans who will pay just to see them give everything they've got.
Thanks for the excellent perceptions concerning the Los Angeles pro track meet.
Unquestionably, we would also be upset if our employers had carelessly impaired our chances for a $2,000 payday (and a world record). However, Steve Smith's three missed attempts at 18'3¾" had nothing to do with the fashioning of the vault standards. The two giant replicas of the Personna razor have been used at each pro track meet during the last two seasons, and they have met with total acceptance by the vaulters. In fact, the units were designed and produced by Sky-Pole Manufacturing Inc., of which Steve Smith is marketing director.
Smith's complaints referred to a broken wheel in the standard base, the same type of base used in Olympic pole-vault competition.
However, your overall criticism is justified and appreciated, for when the ITA show can be administrated smoothly, sterling performances alone, such as Ben Jipcho's amazing L.A. double, will be the proper monitor of pro track's success.
Coordinator, Sports and Special Events
New York City
Leonard Asimow's encounter with Steve Prefontaine ("Small World," SCORECARD, March 24) brought to mind a similar experience I once had. As a freshman medical student at Northwestern, I would find relief from the pressures of anatomy classes by running on an outdoor track adjacent to the school. To keep my mind from unpleasant thoughts of upcoming exams, I would stage imaginary one-mile races. To my surprise (and delight) Tom O'Hara, the record holder in the indoor mile, appeared on the track one day. Studying him with sidelong glances I made my move coming around the far turn and edged him at an invisible tape, whereupon I threw up my arms in victory and collapsed in a heap (√† la Roger Bannister). O'Hara looked at me with a curious expression and kept going. I didn't have the heart to tell him I had just wiped him out with a splendid 3:55.
JOHN D. CANTWELL, M.D.
Your article The Winners Were Mama's Boys (March 24) was great for Iowa, and I am sure that the Hawkeyes earned their title in the NCAA wrestling championships. But I think it would have been helpful if you had mentioned the top 10 finishers: Iowa, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Lehigh, Wisconsin, Oregon State, Cal Poly, Purdue and Penn State.
It might also have been of interest to note the 10 individual champions: Shawn Garel, Oklahoma (118-pound class); John Fritz, Penn State (126); Mike Frick, Lehigh (134); Jim Bennett, Yale (142); Chuck Yagla, Iowa (150); Dan Holm, Iowa (158); Ron Ray, Oklahoma State (167); Mike Lieberman, Lehigh (177); Al Nacin, Iowa State (190); and heavyweight champion Larry Bielenberg, Oregon State. The Outstanding Wrestler Award went to Lehigh's Frick. Lehigh won the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association championship two weeks earlier with seven first places, one second and one third. Four of the 10 national champions were from Eastern schools: Lehigh (with two), Yale and Penn State. I agree that Iowa is the best, but Lehigh is pretty good, too.
In response to the letter from Dave Adams (March 17) concerning college hockey and his comment that maybe "in a few years UCLA may have an All-America goaltender," I would like to comment on the state of college ice hockey in the West. It was very big out here back in the '30s and '40s but then disappeared. Within the last five years, the sport has been reborn and is growing in many respects. Here at UCLA, where I play on the team and help run things on the administrative end, we are at the club level. I am also the unofficial commissioner of the Southern California Collegiate Hockey Association, which includes California State at Northridge, Cal Tech and Occidental College, in addition to UCLA. We also play games with such schools as San Diego State, Northern Arizona, UC Irvine and California State at Long Beach.
Our level of play is not quite up to the Denvers and Michigan Techs, but maybe it will be in the future. We have no scholarships and our teams consist primarily of local talent. The highly skilled local players must go East to play top-quality hockey.
Here in Southern California we have limited ice time (one or two nights per week), late hours for games and practices (mostly Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights from 10:45 p.m. until 12:30 a.m.) and we have to pay for ice time at each practice ($2.50 to $3 per person). Due to the late hours, we have trouble drawing sizable crowds. We also do not get very much publicity and receive only a little financial assistance from our schools. However, our games are lively and full of action. They are the essence of college sport, the student playing for enjoyment. We hope that someday the best local junior talent can stay out West and play quality hockey and possibly give us here at UCLA an "All-America goaltender."
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