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Original Issue


Your June 11 cover photograph of high scorer Gus Williams driving for a layup was superb, as was the shot of "The Seattle Wall" (Jack Sikma, Lonnie Shelton and John Johnson). Great camera work, SI!
Dunwoody, Ga.

"The Seattle Wall" was one of the best basketball pictures I've ever seen when it came to illustrating what was really going on in a game.
Stone Mountain, Ga.

SI's photography and prose on the Seattle-Washington series were exceptional. In contrast, CBS fell somewhat short. In a major market, the San Francisco-Oakland area, two of the five games of the series were tape-delayed and shown at 11:30 p.m. The NBA championship should be treated as an event comparable to the World Series, but by televising the games at such a late hour the network destroyed continuity for the fan. I, for one, protest.
San Francisco

Thank you for the nice cover and story about our world champion SuperSonics! We in the Northwest realize how difficult it must be for fans in the more populated regions of the country to identify with our basketball idols. Therefore, it was easy enough for us to understand why the recently announced first and second NBA All-League teams included no players from Seattle. But there is one thing that makes no sense to us. How could Coach-of-the-Year honors go to Cotton Fitzsimmons of Kansas City? Our Lenny Wilkens won the championship with players who aren't notable enough to have made even the second-string All-League team!
Chehalis, Wash.

Congratulations on your recent investigative reports on abuses in college football (May 21) and in jai alai and sports medicine (June 11). Such articles raise SI far above the routine scores-and-personalities magazines.

Regarding the potential for abuse—or the appearance of abuse—when team physicians are paid by management, a simple solution seems apparent. Why not have the players' associations employ the team physicians? The link to management would be broken and a true doctor-patient relationship would exist.
Sylvania, Ohio

During four years as the physician for a minor league hockey team, I was exposed to some of the problems described in the article Playing Hurt—the Doctors' Dilemma. Because of that experience I came to several conclusions about what a physician for a professional club should be and how he should relate to the team.

First, because medical problems—respiratory infections, cuts, abrasions and the like—are predominant, a physician with broad medical experience should be the team physician, with an orthopedist acting in a consultative role. This is especially important in cases in which surgery may be needed.

Second, more health information on individual players is needed, especially a continuing record that follows the player as he moves from team to team. To my knowledge, such records are not kept in hockey.

Finally, though I think that the individual team should appoint its own physician, I also feel strongly that the physician should report ultimately to the league president. This would relieve the team doctor of the need to cater to the team's interest and make him responsible to someone who has the broader interest of the game and its players at heart.
Oklahoma City

William Nack's article on playing hurt only scratched the surface of a much larger problem: the "macho" image that prompts players to play while hurt.

This sort of thinking is impressed on athletes at an early age, and through high school and college I watched many of my teammates "play with pain." They did it to help the team, not realizing—or not being told—that by playing with certain injuries they were running the risk of incurring lifetime ailments.

Who is to blame? The physician in the pros who puts the team ahead of the player? The college coach who fails to send an injured player to a doctor for fear he will lose the services of that player? The high school coach who calls a player a sissy because he won't play with a "little pain"?

All of them are at fault, and the public needs to be made aware of how widespread these practices are and of how damaging the misuse of an athlete's trust in medical advice can be. Too many people suffer from "an old football injury," the lingering effects of which probably could have been avoided had there been a little more concern for the player and a little less for the success of the team.
Erie, Pa.

Speaking of playing hurt, I think former Red Sox and now Expo Pitcher Bill Lee put it well. He once said, "Your body talks to you. Listen to it."

Dr. Arthur Pappas, one of the finest sports physicians in the country and a former athlete, did not have a decision to make when it came to whether the injured Carlton Fisk should play during the late stages of the '78 pennant race. He left the choice squarely up to Fisk, who should have heard his body talking to him. Fisk wasn't listening.

I was reminded of my experience as a high school football player. During preseason practice in 1961, I suffered a severe neck injury and was sidelined for most of the season. Although I knew I wasn't in proper shape, I covered up the fact that I wasn't fully recovered and started the last game. In that game I tore ligaments in my right knee. The next year I re-injured the knee, and my coach advised me to forget about football. He was concerned that I might never be able to walk normally if I continued to play, and he refused to allow me to participate in any games because he also feared I might do further injury to my neck. This conversation could be the reason I still have full mobility in my neck and legs.

The concerned coach was Earle Bruce, who is now the head man at Ohio State. I'd let my sons play for him anytime.
Upper Arlington, Ohio

Regarding the metal plate in Red Sox Manager Don Zimmer's head, allow me to set the record straight. At the time of the incident (1953), Zimmer was playing for a minor league team and was well-known as a batter who crowded the plate. My uncle, Jim Kirk, then a fastballer for a St. Louis Cardinal farm team and the man who hit Zimmer, was no wilder than any other pitcher. It was dusk, and as my uncle released the pitch to Zimmer he realized it was wild and yelled to Zimmer to get out of the way. Zimmer lost sight of the ball in the twilight and didn't budge until it knocked him off his feet.

This accident occurred before batting helmets were required, and as a result of it Zimmer has the metal plate. But the pitch was by no means a deliberate beanball, as might be inferred from your brief description; it was merely a wild pitch. To this day Zimmer and my uncle remain on the best of terms. The word "beaning" implies animosity, which was not the case.
Jacksonville, N.C.

Were the "clamor along the Klamath" (June 4) as simple as it was made to seem by Robert F. Jones, this letter would be unnecessary. Being an attorney who is stupid enough to try to untangle other people's messes, I can assure you that there is no better example of the incredible difficulties faced by native Americans than the Klamath follies. As Jones suggests, gill nets across the water are really not the main issue. Different groups—within the Indian tribes, within the state and federal governments, within the surrounding communities—are competing for control over the area around the Klamath and its debatably dwindling resources. Those few Indians who fish with outlawed nets are selfish, shortsighted people, you say. Please take a closer look. On a reservation where unemployment is running more than 70%, the people are slowly being strangled by various governments, various private business concerns and various sportsmen's clubs. But they are still trying to eke out an existence.

This is not a sports story. As hinted by Jones, it is, rather, a sad story—and in the end a relatively powerless people may well lose out entirely. If they do lose, it will not be because their nets are too long or too deep, but because their numbers are few, because they are somewhat dependent on what other people have and because other people want the timber, minerals, federal moneys—and fish—that the Hoopas and Yuroks and other local tribes have.
San Jose, Calif.

At least the WHA (A Nowhere Ride, May 28) lasted longer than the WFL. I hope that the taste for hockey that was developed in some Southern cities by the WHA will someday aid the NHL in regaining a national TV contract, which it deserves.

Your story in the same issue on the Stanley Cup final (They Were Singing That Old Song Again) was also good—but too brief! When will you adjust to the fact that hockey is unmatched for pure enjoyment and action. The NHL has survived even though the national media generally ignore it.
Santa Cruz, Calif.

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