Before the Muhammad Ali-Leon Spinks fight, I half-jokingly told some friends about my boxing theory, i.e., that every eight years the Olympic Games produce a world heavyweight champion. Now that the theory has proved true, I'm in shock. Here are the facts:
In 1952 Floyd Patterson won an Olympic gold medal and then went on to become world heavyweight champion.
In 1960, eight years later, Cassius Clay won a gold and went on to become the champ.
In 1968 George Foreman won a gold and afterward won the heavyweight title.
In 1976 Leon Spinks won a gold, and now he is wearing the heavyweight crown.
Keep an eye on the American boxers who win gold medals in 1984!
KEVIN R. DEYO
Eglin AFB, Fla.
•You might watch 1980, as well. Joe Frazier won a gold medal in 1964.—ED.
St. Louis Cardinal owner Bill Bidwill should get rid of Terry Metcalf (He Don't Get No Respect from His Cardinals, Feb. 20). Not that Metcalf isn't a good player; he is, when he hangs on to the ball. And who can blame Bidwill for trading Conrad Dobler? You say Dobler got "only $55,000" last year. How many penalties did he incur? And how about the game against Miami last Thanksgiving when Dobler threw a tantrum, got into a fight and generally acted like a child? Does someone who behaves like that deserve $55,000 a year? Hats off to Bidwill for treating spoiled brats like spoiled brats, and to Joe Marshall for a fine, interesting article.
MICHAEL C. RHIAN
Trout Run, Pa.
"Poor Bill Bidwill"? Nuts! Poor fans.
Don Coryell is a complex coach and a complex man but he could do no less after the Dec. 10 loss to Washington than let his long-stifled feelings concerning the Cardinal front office be known. Bill Bidwill's incessant penny-pinching will prove costly for the Big Red.
PATRICK K. O'SHEA
MORE ON THE FOUR-CORNERS
Don Delliquanti said that North Carolina Coach Dean Smith devised the four-corners offense 15 years ago (They're Foursquare for the Four-Corners, Feb. 6).
I am a 1956 graduate of Beloit (Wis.) College. Dolph Stanley was the Beloit basketball coach at that time, and he used a four-corners offense that we referred to as "Dolph's open-court offense." In the late '40s he brought Beloit to the NIT. Stanley is also well known in Illinois for having coached some five or six different high school teams to the state tournament. Although he is 73, he is still coaching at Boylan Central Catholic High School in Rockford, Ill.
I have on many occasions in recent years watched various college teams employ the four-corners offense, and I can assure you it is the same offense that Dolph devised and used quite regularly during the '50s.
JOHN W. GOSSELIN
•According to Stanley, the four-corners offense is "as old as the hills." He says, "I first saw it run by a fellow named (King) Arthur Trout in 1921. Trout was the coach at Centralia (Ill.) High School and I was a player at Marion High. I went to him and asked him to explain it to me, and I've been using it since 1930."—ED.
Why not a 60-second shot clock for college basketball? My only objection to the four-corners is that if the defense plays it safe, guarding the basket and refusing to foul, the four-corners changes from delay or control tactics to an out-and-out freeze. Sixty seconds would give a team the option of slowing a game down and controlling the tempo by using the four-corners for perhaps 30 or 40 seconds before working for a good shot. A 60-second clock would also prevent such things as the 12-10 final score in an ACC tournament game shown on regional television a few years back. Such a rule would curb abuses without fundamentally altering the game.
Why all the senseless objection to the good old legitimate game of keep-away in college basketball? It is an art similar to ragging the puck in hockey or some of the lovely moves in soccer. If you're good enough to bring it off, why not?
I was fortunate enough to be in Ann Arbor when Big Ten basketball showed us the likes of John Wooden and Stretch Murphy (Purdue), Branch McCracken (Indiana), Bud Foster (Wisconsin) and Bennie Oosterbaan, Bill Orwig and Ernie McCoy (Michigan)—all of whom went on to great things. Their game was basketball, a trifle rugged but no silly quick whistles for moving into the basket and many more blocking fouls than charging fouls. I saw John Wooden win a game in Ann Arbor one night by dribbling the ball expertly for some three or four minutes until the Michigan home crowd applauded. This is what Dr. Naismith intended. The scores were ridiculously low by modern standards: Purdue and Wooden "murdered" Michigan 56-33. Earlier, Wooden and his dribbling expertise almost singlehandedly killed the Wolverines 23-19. And once again, in 1931, Wooden's stall licked UM 30-21.
It may sound dull, but it was anything but.
It's about time someone explained this type of offense. As a graduate and supporter of the University of North Carolina, I have grown tired of hearing the four-corners knocked. Many schools employ stall tactics, most of which are designed to hold the ball and not produce points.
The picture illustrating the four-corners, however, had one glaring mistake. How could author Don Delliquanti and illustrator Walt Spitzmiller show a player with the number 18 on his jersey? They should know that no digit above five is used in numbering the jerseys of college basketball players.
A. P. JAMES
•Right. The long-standing rule limiting uniform numbers to two digits with no single digit exceeding the number five was instituted to enable a referee to signal a player's number with no more than two motions of one hand. Players are not permitted to wear the number one or two because the officials use those digits to indicate the number of foul shots to be taken. This rule is observed only in the breach in the pros—for example, good old No. 17, John Havlicek.—ED.
PREPARING SOCCER STARS
Regarding the item in SCORECARD (Feb. 6) condemning the drafting of high school soccer players by the NASL, it is obvious that your knowledge of the soccer scene in this country matches your coverage: skimpy but growing. Further investigation into the motives of pro soccer's interest in high school players would reveal that college soccer does not adequately prepare a player for the pro ranks. Colleges play too few games (on the average fewer than 20 a year) and the level of play is below that of many amateur leagues. As a result, the aspiring pro spends four years in limbo when he could be receiving top coaching and playing against top competition in the pros. Playing on a professional reserve team is better training than playing for most college teams.
Our national team, with players who have only four or five years' experience, will not be able to compete successfully against teams from other countries whose players have twice that much experience. Nor can the NASL continue to rely on foreign imports while waiting for colleges to raise the status of soccer. Pelè, Beckenbauer and Cruyff began their careers in their teens. Had they waited until their early 20s, as our players do, they would not be the players they are today.
No one seems to mind that athletes in other sports play at the international level without first competing at the college level. If this were a requirement, we wouldn't have Steve Cauthens and Tracy Austins. I am not belittling the importance of a college education, but if one wants to become a doctor, one doesn't go to a trade school. Nor does a mechanic go to Harvard. If a player wants a pro career, he owes it to himself to go where he can get the best training. It is also possible to have a college education and a pro career. Many NASL contracts offered to high school players include just such a provision.
JAMES L. COGAR
Idaho Falls, Idaho
ONE FOR MATCH PLAY
In his article on the $105,000 Colgate Triple Crown Match Play women's golf tournament (Playing Like an Amateur, Feb. 6) Walter Bingham states unequivocally that match play "is not nearly as fair a test as medal play." This is a dubious contention.
Successful match play requires day-to-day and hole-to-hole consistency, whereas in medal play one superb day can negate two poor ones. In other words, match play emphasizes consistency and, consequently, may reward a different (i.e., more conservative) approach to the game than medal play. It is not an inferior test, only a different one.
Additionally, match play affords ample opportunity for thrilling head-to-head competition. In contrast, medal-play tournaments often conclude with the contenders playing against a leader who is already in the clubhouse or, even worse, against the leader board.
JAMES G. PATTERSON
Address editorial mail to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, New York, 10020.