WITH AND WITHOUT PRO FOOTBALL
The article The Ship Has Sailed Again.... (Nov. 29) by Ahmad Rashad as told to Frank Deford was sensitive, and thus, unlike almost all poststrike articles that will be written, it offered a refreshing angle. The image of professional football was badly injured by the strike, and although it is true that loyal fans have short memories, many of us feel personally cheated. In any fan-athlete relationship, this is a serious offense. Rashad's enlightening account helped to bandage some of the wounds.
Grove City, Pa.
The three-part Journal of a Plagued Year (Oct. 18 et seq.) by Ahmad Rashad provided some of the finest reading to grace the pages of SI in recent years. It was similar to one of those good novels you just can't put down. In addition to possessing considerable journalistic talent and football ability, Rashad is a class act as a person. He makes it an extreme pleasure to support the Vikings, regardless of the final score. Now that he's retiring from football, I'm sure he'll attain similar success in his chosen field of broadcasting. I, for one, hope he'll also do occasional articles for SI.
I can't wait for the next NFL strike. Your issues while there was no pro football were the best ever.
DENIS F. LINEHAN
New City, N.Y.
You devoted 43 pages of your Nov. 29 issue to the moribund sport of college basketball and only 12 pages to the weekend's NFL action. Are you people aware that the strike is over and that NFL games have resumed?
LANNY R. MIDDINGS
San Ramon, Calif.
Being a lifelong Duke fan, I almost didn't read Frank Deford's story on North Carolina Basketball Coach Dean Smith (Long Ago, He Won the Big One, Nov. 29). However, I did read it, and I wish I had four hands—one to shake Deford's hand for writing it, one to shake Smith's hand for living it and two to dry my eyes. What a touching story about a man I thought I hated.
KENNETH T. GREEN
The story of Dean Smith by Frank Deford was terrific! I learned a lot about a man who I think is the best basketball coach anywhere. I remember the years with Larry Miller and Rusty Clark, and of course I remember Charlie Scott. I remember great games between North Carolina and Davidson; Scott always seemed to hit a shot at the end to win it for the Heels. I could talk all day about Dean and the Heels and I hope you'll print this, because I'm a North Carolina State fan!
Dean Smith for Sportsman of the Year.
Siler City, N.C.
As a University of Virginia graduate, over the years I have watched the struggles—mostly futile—of the Wahoos against Dean Smith's teams. Thus, I may be overly sensitive to an article such as Frank Deford's. However, I found misleading the intimation that coaches at three other North Carolina colleges felt so powerless to compete with Smith that they "fled the state." To picture Bill Foster (Duke), Lee Rose (North Carolina at Charlotte) and Norm Sloan (North Carolina State) as having to run away from the all-powerful Dean connotes a degree of failure in their programs that was simply not evident. As you point out, all three moves were preceded by highly successful seasons—capped by an NCAA second place, an NCAA semifinal berth and an NCAA championship, respectively. I think it would be much fairer to cast the decisions of these coaches to leave as having been made after they had accomplished a great deal. You also took a cheap shot at Virginia Coach Terry Holland by saying "consider the source," after quoting him regarding Smith.
When I began this letter, I identified my bias. Perhaps Frank Deford, Curry Kirkpatrick and the other Carolina alumni at SI would be kind enough to take off their shoes and show us their Tar Heels.
TIMOTHY G. CONNORS
•Deford's a Princeton man.—ED.
STRONG ATHLETIC DIRECTOR
Regarding the sidebar on what it took to arrange the television contract for the Virginia-Georgetown game (Something's Gotta Give, Nov. 29), I offer the following for the CBS executives who visited Georgetown Athletic Director Frank Rienzo with their contract proposals (demands): Quousque tandem, CBS, abutere patientia nostra? [How long, Catiline, will you abuse our patience?—Cicero]
It's too bad none of the CBS officials had studied Latin under Rienzo at Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, N.Y. It's also a shame none of them was ever caught smoking in the school yard at lunchtime by him. If the CBS men had had either of these experiences, they would have known before they walked through the door that their efforts were a waste of time. Thank you, Frank, for remaining the same stubborn, ethical s.o.b. that you were when you were teaching us of Caesar's conquest of the Helvetians.
Frank Rienzo's handling of the high-handed network bidding for rights to the Georgetown-Virginia game deserves kudos. Speaking as a fan who has had too many weekend plans ruined by schedule changes and temporary lighting installations, I say well done, Frank!
RANKED OR RANKLED
Sorry, but your Top 20 college basketball prediction (Scouting Reports, Nov. 29) was as accurate as a weatherman's forecast. If Kentucky isn't one of the Top 5 teams in America, then the Baltimore Colts will win the Super Bowl!
The fact that Houston, fresh from a Final Four appearance in New Orleans and returning perhaps the best front line in the country, didn't even rate a Top 20 ranking from SI is incredible. I expect you'll be feeling rather foolish come springtime.
What's the big idea? Arkansas not in your Top 20? The only reason I'll continue to take your magazine is to see the Razorbacks in your final Top 10.
Little Rock, Ark.
Ha! Ha! What a joke! St. John's not in your Top 20!
Maybe it was a little too much to ask for a spot in the Top 20 (West Virginia No. 17?), but when you pick 52 teams to make the NCAA tournament, it is an atrocity to ignore the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers.
North Brunswick, N.J.
You've forgotten the dark horse in last year's Final Eight: Boston College. I knew they wouldn't be in the Top 20, but come on, the Eagles should at least have been in the "Rest of the Best." I think you owe us BC fans a big apology.
Congratulations on another spectacular College Basketball Issue! As a member of the San Domenico School girls' basketball team in San Anselmo, Calif., I especially enjoyed Roger Jackson's wonderful article on Cheryl Miller and the University of Southern California women's program (She May Well Be the Best Ever). Miller is an excellent example of a superstar athlete who's able to handle pressure, and she should be an inspiration to all young women athletes.
I enjoyed the article on Cheryl Miller, because articles on women's sports are so rare. But I continue to return with increasing emotion to the line in Roger Jackson's article that says, "She hit her 105 points last January in a 179-15 win over Norte Vista High." I don't think that it's necessary or desirable for any coach to run up such a score. I hope that Cheryl isn't proud of the fact that she was able to achieve her California Interscholastic Federation record point total against an obviously mismatched team. I also hope that girls and their coaches aren't being corrupted by scholarships and headlines to the point where they feel they need to beat another team by 164 points.
Upon receiving my Nov. 29 issue, I almost jumped for joy upon seeing the Spud Webb story (He's Bigger Than He Looks). If ever anyone deserved such coverage, it's Webb. I say that with respect because junior college basketball is relatively obscure, judging by the media coverage it receives, and because I witnessed Webb's feats at the National JC tournament in Hutchinson, Kans. last March. Words really can't describe his jumping ability; it's one of those things you have to see to believe.
Having watched many talented players as a lifelong Kansas resident and also as a UPI stringer, I can only say that Spud is the most amazing I've ever seen.
TRAGIC FIGHT (CONT.)
Your article on the Ray Mancini-Duk Koo Kim fight (Then All the Joy Turned to Sorrow, Nov. 22) was factual and poignant, but it failed to address one question: Could Kim's death have been avoided?
Several rule changes are needed to make professional boxing safer. For one thing, the gloves are too small and the bouts too long. Amateur fighters regularly use 10- or 12-ounce gloves, and the three-round bouts in the Olympics are among the most exciting in the sport. So why use lighter gloves or go 15 rounds? I realize there are boxers who can win a 10-round bout who couldn't win a 15-round championship match. But there are those who can win in 15 rounds who couldn't have won in yesteryear's 40-rounders. Both Kim and Alexis Arguello (It Was a Pryor Engagement, Nov. 22) were injured after the 10th round.
An even better rule change would be to require headgear. College and military boxers are required to wear headgear in all bouts, with no loss of excitement, but I believe a study would reveal that their safety record, compared with professional boxing, is enviable. It's argued that the paying customers wouldn't like such a change, but remember that football players wore no headgear until just before the turn of the century.
The most important rule change, however, would be to require a standing eight-count, which is mandatory in college and Olympic boxing. If a boxer is shaken, the referee immediately breaks the action and gives the man a rest for eight seconds. The athlete isn't allowed to continue unless he's in condition to do so. Observers are fond of repeating that Duk Koo Kim was taken out with one punch, but Ralph Wiley's article points out that Kim was badly hurt by a Mancini right just before the knockout. If a standing eight-count rule had been in effect and if the referee had acted quickly, Kim might be alive today. Indeed, if all the rules I have suggested were in effect, I think it's highly probable that Kim would be alive.
Unfortunately, nothing will be done until there are more deaths, and then the outcry will be to ban boxing rather than to make it safer. But boxing will never be banned; it will just be driven underground, as it was 100 years ago.
Can boxing be made safer? You bet it can.
JOSEPH C. TINNEY
California Collegiate Boxing Conference
While we sympathize with Duk Koo Kim's family and friends, we urge all sports fans and writers to consider the following: How many auto racers have died from participation in their sport? Indeed, how many racing fans have died as the result of accidents that occurred while they were merely spectators? How many hunters have died in the woods and fields? How many people have died in boating accidents? How many jockeys have died from injuries incurred on racetracks?
Few people cry out to ban these sports, but I believe statistics would probably show boxing to be rather tame by comparison.
The tragic outcome of the Mancini-Kim bout raises many important philosophical questions about the future of boxing. Of practical import, however, was your noting that Kim ingested "large amounts of garlic and ginseng as part of his training regimen. Garlic is known to cause abnormalities in blood coagulation, specifically in the blood platelet function. These abnormalities can inhibit proper platelet aggregation and may predispose a person to bleeding. There is no doubt that repeated blows to the head can cause a cerebral hemorrhage such as that which occurred in Kim's case. Also, there is no way of knowing whether the extent of the damage could have been reduced if garlic hadn't been part of the training regimen. It makes sense, however, to avoid any agents that may impair blood coagulation before engaging in a sporting event where head trauma is likely.
STEVEN B. NEWMAN, M.D.
SARA M. NEELY, M.D.
Ray Kennedy's article on Peter Ueberroth, president of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee (Miser With a Midas Touch, Nov. 22), was very inspiring. It's good to know that someone in this country can balance a budget. Although Ueberroth claims to have no political ambitions, all I can say is that if he should ever run for President or any other political office, I'd surely vote for him.
As a taxpaying citizen of Los Angeles, I'm deeply indebted to Peter Ueberroth for his attempt to have a fiscally conservative Summer Olympics.
I was elated as I read Ray Kennedy's article about Peter Ueberroth and the 1984 Summer Olympic Games. However, I was distressed to find that certain topics, such as the possibility of a Soviet and/ or black African boycott, the probability of massive traffic jams and the effect climatic conditions—intense Heat and smog—could have on the athletes, weren't even mentioned in the article. You did briefly comment that Soviet officials, among others from the Eastern Bloc, consider these games a capitalistic production.
Perhaps in a subsequent article, Ueberroth could discuss in detail how he intends to cope with these very real problems. And after he has done so, I then wonder if he will still believe that "this city is going to celebrate the Games. They will become a rallying point of pride in this country."
Michael Baughman's article A Flight of Innocents (Nov. 22) was excellent. I've never hunted the famous Canada goose, and I doubt that I shall. However, years ago, as a young boy in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, I hunted wild turkey, as had my father and my grandfather, so the article had a very special meaning. I also hunted until I had my "bag," and then, like Baughman, I felt a letdown, a feeling of remorse.
F.M. HOLMES JR.
What Michael Baughman didn't realize in his attempt to bag a Canada goose was that he had stumbled upon the huge flock that has since moved in to contaminate Winged Foot Golf Club in New York's Westchester County. Would he be good enough to come here with Hilde, Otto and his gun to disperse them if the artificial swans recently resorted to don't work?
GEORGE C. GAFFNEY
New York City
Michael Baughman's ability to say so much with so few words has always amazed me. I have been a fan of his short articles for years. His longer effort, A Flight of Innocents, was a pleasure to read and again proved his skill to move and entertain the reader.
Julius Erving for Sportsman of the Year. Why? Because Wayne Gretzky, Jimmy Connors, Joe Montana, Mary Decker Tabb, Martina Navratilova, Alberto Salazar, the Mahre twins, Herschel Walker, Paolo Rossi, JoAnne Carner and the Rev. John Lo Schiavo can't grab a quarter off the top of a backboard. As you may have noticed, these were the nominees mentioned in your Nov. 29 issue (19TH HOLE). Except, that is, for Ralph Sampson, my second choice.
J. JASON APPLETON
Letters should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.