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Original Issue


In his column on the decline in pro basketball TV ratings (TV/RADIO, Oct. 16), William Leggett overlooks an important reason why televised games fail to attract a substantial audience. One need only consider CBS' coverage of the NBA. The network has a penchant for switching back and forth between various regional games instead of staying with the action of its featured game. This smorgasbord approach is both distracting and self-defeating. In no other sport does momentum play such a key role, and in order to truly enjoy a basketball game you have to watch it develop, without constant interruptions for action on a different court.

Before CBS officials pull the plug on the NBA they ought to try broadcasting the games in toto. Until then Leggett's contention that there is too much basketball on television is a slight overstatement. The fact is, with the present CBS format, there isn't enough real basketball on the tube.
Royal Oak, Mich.

It is my belief that the ratings for pro basketball were down last year for a reason not mentioned in your article. Regional broadcasts deprived us of seeing many great players and good teams. Although an Easterner and a devoted fan, I must admit that I got a bit sick of a steady diet of Philadelphia and the Knicks. Rookie of the Year Walter Davis of Phoenix could only be seen briefly in the All-Star Game.
Fayetteville, N.Y.

As one who has enjoyed playing, coaching and officiating amateur basketball for the past 30 years, I would have to say that pro basketball is often boring. Many people get turned off by watching some hot dog take the throw-in, dribble the length of the floor and stuff the ball. It's a lot more exciting going to a high school game and watching five boys playing their hearts out, diving after loose balls, screening out for rebounds, feeding the open man for a good shot, playing hard-nosed defense and, most important, not pouting when they don't get the ball.

When pro coaches get back to coaching, and pro players get back to playing, not just shooting, you'll probably see the fans come back. In the meantime, there are other things to do—like shoveling snow.
Munising, Mich.

I have a few suggestions:

1) Reduce the number of fouls permitted each player from six to five (or even four).

2) Reduce the team-foul limit in each quarter from four to three.

3) When a team is over the foul limit, make all free throws count two points instead of one.

These changes just might speed up the action and prevent a lot of games from turning into monotonous parades to the foul line. They might also allow players like Julius Erving and David Thompson to really show us what they can do without getting mugged every time they touch the ball.
Bridgeport, Conn.

The story of Raymond Lewis (A Legend Searching for His Past, Oct. 16) is indeed a sad one, though one from which many lessons can be learned. The achievers of the world are those individuals who not only have a talent but also put that talent to use. There are countless people who have talent. Those who rise to the top use their skills and knowledge and persevere.

Sports in America have benefited countless thousands of people, some economically, others socially and emotionally. Raymond Lewis got caught in the wheels of the sports machinery and was severely harmed. Yet no one can place the blame entirely on "the machinery"—not even Lewis. The old saying "there is no such thing as a free lunch" comes to mind. It seems that you only get back what you give. The first contract Lewis signed was admittedly a bad one, but a year of sticking it out and showcasing his skills would have helped his cause immensely.
New Haven, Conn.

Although Barry McDermott's article on Raymond Lewis was extremely interesting, I wish it hadn't appeared in your magazine. Anybody who leaves a gymnasium at half-time of a game, who leaves practice and flies home, and then says he would be a star if he were white doesn't deserve to play professional basketball.
Branford, Conn.

I enjoyed the article on Elvin Hayes and his search for an MVP award (The Big E Wants an MVP, Oct. 16). I thought it was amusing that he recalls as his greatest thrill his University of Houston team's 71-69 victory over UCLA and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who, although he had an eye injury, was bothered more by Hayes.

Do you suppose Hayes recalls the rematch later that year in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament? Just to remind the Big E, the final score was UCLA 101, Houston 69. Hayes scored a total of 10 points and got five rebounds. It would seem that Kareem wasn't aware that Hayes was in the game!
Long Beach, Calif.

Special thanks to John Papanek for his down-home portrait of Elvin Hayes. The Big E will be remembered for the remarkable man he is.
Tonka Bay, Minn.

Please don't carry the debunking of the 1926 World Series too far (YESTERDAY, Oct. 9). Too many good stories are ruined by oververification. I don't mind losing the myth that Grover Cleveland Alexander had a hangover on that day, but the myth I would hate to lose has him coming back to the dugout after surviving Tony Lazzeri's almost home run and saying, "There you are, boys. There's only three feet between a hero and a bum."
Palo Alto, Calif.

I believe you are in error in asserting that Detroit's 86-75 mark this year is the best fifth-place record in baseball history (BASEBALL'S WEEK, Oct. 9). If memory serves, the 1964 National League race, won by the Cardinals with a 93-69 record, probably provided not only the best fifth-place record (88-74 by the Braves) but also possibly the best fourth-place record (90-72 by the Giants).

In any event, it was probably the closest five-team finish in history, after being a Phillies runaway most of the year. The Phils lost 10 straight, then won a two-game season finale from the Reds to allow St. Louis to win by one game over Cincinnati and Philadelphia. San Francisco was fourth, and Milwaukee finished fifth, only five games out of first.
Waukegan, Ill.

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