NEW MEXICO'S SCANDAL
I read with interest your article on the University of New Mexico basketball scandal (Now New Mexico Feels the Heat, Dec. 10). You quoted UNM President William E. Davis as saying it was "lack of leadership and discipline for the past several years that allowed things to deteriorate so badly." This and other statements by Davis quoted in your report indicate that he had no knowledge of what was going on in his university's basketball program.
If the NCAA seriously wishes to prevent these all too frequent abuses of collegiate athletic standards, there is a very simple step that could be taken: make the university president directly responsible—in fact, not just in name—for the conduct of his athletic department. Knowing that they could lose their jobs would be a great incentive to college presidents to make certain that they are aware of what is going on in their athletic departments. In all other organizations, be they governmental or industrial, the president is ultimately responsible for the conduct of his subordinates. I do not see why it should be different for the institutions governed by the NCAA. With interest in collegiate athletics reaching an alltime high, it is extremely unfortunate that we are finding more and more excesses occurring in areas like the recruitment and eligibility of athletes.
PATRICK J. MCBRIDE
La Porte, Ind.
John Papanek's account of the New Mexico basketball scandal was very well done and exposed the facts of the situation in a surprisingly stark fashion. However, Papanek touched on one subject that he didn't fully explore: where was Craig Gilbert when all the transcript-fixing was going on. and how come he wasn't involved in the process of getting himself enrolled in school?
As a student-athlete at Pacific University. I'm aware of the difficulties involved in competing in a sport and going to classes at the same time. But if Gilbert, as he was quoted as saying, didn't even know how many credit hours he had completed at his college, then something is terribly wrong with that college, its administrators, its coaches and Gilbert himself. After all, an athlete is a student first, isn't he?
Forest Grove, Ore.
"And the fourth one had to be the one that was taped," Coach Norm Ellenberger is said to have sobbed as he told of the conversations that broke the scandal. If this is so, Ellenberger must have studied the zone defense under Richard Nixon.
JOSEPH P. KAHN
Bryn Mawr, Pa.
Without a doubt, the most spectacular attraction in all of sport is the Pittsburgh Steelers' Lynn Swann on the receiving end of a football thrown high and wide (Champagne, Roses and Donuts, Dec. 10). Furthermore, the athletic ability he displays in one of his cross-country runs can be duplicated by no one. Whether his ability is called poetry in motion, beauty in combat or something else, it puts Swann in a class by himself. Not since Gale Sayers has that class had a member.
Frank Deford's article on Lynn Swann was something special. Deford quotes Swann as saying of Pittsburgh, "It's a pretty place, isn't it?" Pittsburgh is beautiful, not only because of the scenery but also because it's lucky enough to have the Steelers, Pirates, Penguins and Major Indoor Soccer League Spirit. Many great teams and many great people—that's really what Pittsburgh is all about.
The only thing that saddens me about Swanny is that he doesn't reside in Pittsburgh (I'm a native) 12 months a year.
DAVID M. BONGA
Perhaps it's time for Pittsburgh to cast aside its image as a shot-and-a-beer town and emulate Lynn Swann in his affinity for champagne, because the Steel City is becoming Title Town. U.S.A.
RON BEVANS JR.
Frank Deford wrote that Lynn Swann is annoyed because the Dallas Cowboys have "anointed themselves as 'America's Team.' " It might interest you to know that Steve Sabol, executive vice-president of NFL Films, suggested that title in recognition of the Cowboys' national following. Dallas is America's Team. For example, of the items licensed for sale by NFL Properties that are available in 28 different versions—each bearing the insignia of one of the NFL's 28 teams—those with the Cowboy emblem account for 29% of the business.
Although the Cowboys are the class team of America and very deserving of the America's Team nickname, fans in Dallas don't like the idea of sharing their champions with everyone else. America's Team? No way! The Cowboys belong to Dallas!
JOHN KELLEY JR.
What's this? The Cowboys "undisputed Super Bowl losers"? I think this honor belongs to the Minnesota Vikings.
Lynn Swann is a hot dog, and Dallas' Drew Pearson and Tony Hill can match him and John Stallworth any day.
BY THE CLOCK
I would like to congratulate Curry Kirkpatrick and welcome him back to the college basketball ranks (It's a Happening, Dec. 3). His humorous writing and insights into the game are unparalleled.
However, I disagree with one of his criticisms of pro ball: the 24-second clock. While it's true that throwing up 25-foot shots is not how basketball is meant to be played, the cause of such shots is not the clock. As Golden State and Portland showed in their championship years, a team can work the ball inside successfully within the 24-second limit.
When this limit is taken away what we have is a "four-corners" offense. This, too, is certainly not how basketball is meant to be played. I would have walked out of the 7-0 Duke-North Carolina debacle long before halftime.
The pro game has many shortcomings, but it is the players and not the 24-second clock that have caused them. College ball would do well to adopt the clock.
Your article on the Celtics (Boston Is Winging Once More, Dec. 3) was excellent, and Red Auerbach's comments on former owner John Y. Brown Jr. were quite interesting. However, he said, "People wouldn't have believed me if I told them how dumb [Brown] was." You don't work your way through law school selling encyclopedias or make millions selling chicken or become governor (by 173,000 votes) of such a fine state as Kentucky by being dumb'. The only thing good about Boston is University of Kentucky alumnus Rick Robey.
I thoroughly enjoyed your article on the Celtics. You covered all the key people on the team—except Chris Ford, the runnin', gunnin' guard. He's been doing a superb job ever since he came over from Detroit, and we Celtic fans are more than happy to have him.
SAVORING THE PIE RACE
It was with great pleasure and vivid memories that I read Sarah Pileggi's article on the Bemis-Forslund Pie Race at the Northfield Mount Hermon School (It Was Easy as Pie, Dec. 3). Like many "Hermonites," I will always cherish the run for the pie and the reward. I got mine in 1943 and can still taste it and feel the burning lungs.
You captured the essence of Axel Forslund—or "the Axe," as he was called behind his back—a fine leader and builder of an athletic and physical education program that will outlive us all. Thanks.
ALAN C. MOORE
Professor of Physical Education
University of Florida
I congratulate Sarah Pileggi for her excellent description of the Bemis-Forslund Pie Race. She managed to capture the event just as it is and made me recall my own quest for a pie when I was a student at NMH.
It is the only race I've ever entered—and the only race I ever plan to enter. Already set in my inactive ways, I doubted whether I would be able to complete the 4.5 miles, let alone cover them within the 33 minutes necessary to win a pie. I crossed the finish line in a dead heat with another student and an alumnus more than twice my age and nearly passed out from the exertion. Our time? Thirty-three minutes. Flat.
Class of '78
I was surprised to see in your otherwise excellent article on the U.S. Olympic hockey team (Of Gold and Gophers, Dec. 10) that Mark Johnson was characterized as a Minnesotan. I don't know if Johnson was born in Minnesota, but I do know that he learned his basic skills—and became the consummate player he is today—in Wisconsin. Mark led Madison Memorial High School to two state championships before attending the University of Wisconsin.
To call Johnson a Minnesotan is galling because of the intense rivalry between Minnesota and Wisconsin. It also does a disservice to the great strides being made in Wisconsin in producing players of Mark's caliber.
MICHAEL S. HEFFERNAN
•Johnson was born in Minneapolis but lived there only 5½ years. In 1963 his family moved to Colorado Springs, Colo., where his father. Bob Johnson, coached hockey at Colorado College for three years before taking over as coach at Wisconsin.—ED.
Many thanks for the inspiring article on North America's grandfather of skiing, Herman (Jackrabbit) Smith-Johannsen (The Old Man and the Ski, Dec. 10). I strongly concur with Jackrabbit's opinions on modern-day skiing. I've always envisioned skiing as an activity for hearty, outdoors-loving people. But, as Jackrabbit states, an increasing number of lazy skiers—who, I might add, couldn't care less about the outdoors—are crowding the downhill slopes and cross-country trails almost everywhere. I also firmly agree with Jackrabbit's criticism of high-priced equipment and extravagant ski wear.
There was only one thing wrong with your Jackrabbit Johannsen story: it was too short. As Jackrabbit realizes, the main reason he's so special is that others live at a level that is far below their potential, while he gets the most out of his. And if there's any secret to Jackrabbit's longevity, it's surely that he takes himself lightly and also has a good sense of humor.
Olympic Valley, Calif.
A STONE'S THROW (CONT.)
In reference to the article concerning the Dinnie and Inver stones and the Braemar Games in Scotland (A Legend in the Making, Nov. 5), Highland Games or Scottish Games are one of the oldest forms of organized athletic competition in the world, with several events having their counterparts in the modern Olympics. There is a great deal of interest in these games in North America, and there are more than 24 such games recognized by the North American Scottish Games Association in the U.S. and Canada.
Your story mentions that the old world record for height in the 56-pound weight throw was 16'1" and that Powerlifter Bill Kazmaier broke it with a throw of 16'2". Your readers may be interested to know that Shotputter Brian Oldfield threw the 56-pound weight 16'7" at the Ohio Scottish Games in Stow, Ohio on Aug. 25. Like Kazmaier, Oldfield made the throw with one hand, according to Scottish professional rules. Oldfield has thrown higher than 16'1" at three other games in 1979. He also has won six overall games championships.
North Myrtle Beach, S.C.
I would like to offer an alternative explanation for the fact that TV ratings for professional football have not increased the way scoring has this season (The Name of the Came Is Now Armball Nov. 19). If fans are turned off by pro football, I do not believe it is simply because of the new rules or because, as Dallas Free Safety Cliff Harris suggests, most people prefer a good defensive battle to a good offensive battle. Rather, I feel that people may be turned off by the endless time outs called because of injuries. Fans are disappointed when their favorite players are out of action or are reduced to putting on subpar performances on account of injuries.
Because I think the intimidation tactics of defenses have been causing most of the injuries, I feel that John Underwood's series last year on brutality in football (Brutality: The Crisis in Football, Aug. 14-28, 1978) contains the best explanation to date of the decline in interest. If anything, the rule changes favoring and protecting the offense may have come too late.
Salt Lake City
In SCORECARD (Nov. 26) you asked for a definition in four sentences of baseball's Most Valuable Player. Here's mine: the most respected and admired player on the team. The player all teammates depend on to deliver in key situations. The player with above-average statistics who, with a touch of class, can smile because he thrives on pressure. Willie Stargell.
JONATHAN G. MOORE
Slippery Rock, Pa.
It doesn't take four sentences to describe the Most Valuable Player; it can be done in four words: most outstanding performer statistically. On that basis, in the National League Dave Winfield is the only player who should have been close to Keith Hernandez.
MVP: not the player who did the best in the league, but the one who helped his team the most by working the hardest.
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