What a difference a year makes. Herschel Walker was on the cover of your March 7 issue ("Hitting Pay Dirt") almost one year to the day after another Walker cover (March 1, 1982) asked: "Will Herschel Walker Turn Pro Now?" The two poses are similar, but now there's a New Jersey General helmet on his knee instead of that of a Georgia Bulldog.
We Georgia fans wish Walker the best of luck in the USFL and thank him for playing a large part in the one national championship and the three SEC championships that the university has won or shared in the past three years.
Regarding Herschel Walker, the question of ethics and morality was not discussed. As I read the newspapers and SI's report it seemed to me that Walker had lied, his lawyer had supported the lie and USFL Commissioner Chet Simmons had dismissed all these goings-on as a "special case."
I've always felt, maybe naively, that college athletes are role models for younger, more impressionable athletes. If so, the damage that has been done is probably irrevocable.
GILBERT S. SMALL, D.D.S.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
Herschel Walker's fib on George Washington's birthday (minus a couple of days) and his signing of a $3.9 million contract may be just the kind of blind-side tackle that will knock some sense into intercollegiate athletics. Now is the time for major policy revisions. Let universities lease their stadiums and field houses, their logos and fight songs to the pros. Let the NFL, the NBA and the USFL establish baseball-style farm systems. Let the new farm teams divorce themselves from academic restrictions: no eligibility rules, no grade-point averages, no scholarly pretenses, no slaps on the wrist for rule violations—just good, clean, well-paid, free-enterprise football and basketball.
North Newton, Kans.
Hooray! You put the Herschel Walker controversy in proper perspective (SCORECARD, March 7). The NFL coaches are just jealous that they couldn't grab Walker for their league. The college coaches are acting even worse. I'd advise them to grow up and face reality. Last time I checked, this was still the good ol' U.S.A., where everybody has a right to make a living. Being a devout Florida Gator fan, I was elated to see Herschel go, but I was also disgusted by the reaction of some coaches and sportswriters.
E.M. Swift's article on the 1982 Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament (The Thrill of a Lifetime, March 7) was a joy to read. But like a carefully scripted soap opera, it left us on the edge of our seats. It told us that the Edina Hornets, "the Dallas Cowboys of Minnesota high school hockey," won the 1982 title, but then teased us by revealing that the 1983 tournament was a week away.
What a nation of sports fans is waiting to find out is: Did Edina do it again? Or did it come up short, as did America's Team? Did Bloomington Thomas Jefferson reclaim the title it won in 1981? Or did East Grand Forks finally win its first tournament game? Or was this the year for Hibbing or Henry Sibley of Mendota Heights or Cloquet or Mariner of White Bear Lake? I don't care who shot J.R., just tell me who won the 1983 Minnesota hockey tournament.
BRUCE B. WOOD
North Plainfield, N.J.
•St. Paul's Hill-Murray defeated Burnsville 4-3 for the 1983 title and finished the season with a 28-0-0 record to become the first unbeaten and untied Minnesota high school team since Edina East went 24-0-0 in 1974. Edina—Edina East and Edina West have since been combined—was upset 2-0 in the quarterfinals by Columbia Heights, making its first tournament appearance. Columbia Heights went on to the "third-place game," losing 4-3 to Henry Sibley. Bloomington Thomas Jefferson, East Grand Forks, Hibbing, Cloquet and Mariner all lost in sectional "playdowns."—ED.
E.M. Swift eloquently captured the essence of sport—youthful enthusiasm, dedication, striving for victory and dealing with defeat. What a welcome change from arbitration, litigation and machination!
LEO A. GORDON, M.D.
Magnificent! Never in my years of subscribing to SI have I read a more touching article than the one by E.M. Swift on the Minnesota high school hockey tournament. I was fortunate enough to attend this spectacular event last year and can honestly say that nothing can compare to the excitement of watching a group of teen-agers giving everything they've got. One thing that Swift failed to mention was that there wasn't one fight during the 11-game tournament. Now that's real hockey and true sportsmanship.
BROAD STREET BOUTS
Immediately after I read Jack Falla's article (They're the Lords of Discipline, March 7) about the Philadelphia Flyers and their "new" style of play—less fighting, fewer penalty minutes, etc.—I picked up a local newspaper and learned that Flyer Defenseman Behn Wilson had been suspended for six games by the NHL as a result of a high-sticking incident involving Ranger Goalie Glen Hanlon in a game on Feb. 19. An executive of the NHL offered the following statement: "It is apparent that Wilson went out of his way to strike Hanlon.... It is noted that this is the third time that Wilson has been subject to league discipline for an incident involving the swinging of his stick at an opponent."
Tsk, tsk. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Staten Island, N.Y.
In reference to your Feb. 28 SCORECARD item concerning Indiana basketball Coach Bobby Knight and his recurring problems stemming from the so-called Puerto Rico incident, Knight is considered by many to be the best college basketball coach in the nation. Why then should he not coach the best amateur players in the nation in the Olympic Games?
You describe the ideal Olympic coach as being "somewhat of a diplomat." If so, let's send George Shultz as the head man. Knight, it's alleged, committed a diplomatic foul by not backing down when he and his team were shabbily treated at the 1979 Pan Am Games and then daring to tell the truth about what happened. Obviously, honesty and politics don't mix any better in amateur athletics than they do in Washington.
I'm sure most Americans would rather win the gold medal and ask questions later, so I say send our top coach.
Bobby Knight is one of the top five or six coaches in the country, but there's no way he should be our Olympic basketball coach. Another Puerto Rico-type incident could occur, and that would just embarrass the United States. The group of people who selected Knight should reconsider. I'm sure coaches like Dean Smith, Ray Meyer, Lou Carnesecca, Digger Phelps, Joe B. Hall and Denny Crum could do just as well, if not better.
Knight proved to be the prototype of the ugly American. He may be a great coach, but he's not the man to foster good sportsmanship between countries.
RICK A. BLUE
Bobby Knight expresses his disdain for Hispanics overtly. SI is more covert. In the SCORECARD item on Knight's latest tirade, SI identifies Anglo sportswriters who comment on the issue (George Vecsey of The New York Times and SI's Jack McCallum), but buries the author of the column that reported the racist remarks Knight made in Gary, Ind. in anonymity. You referred to him only as "a Puerto Rican journalist."
That "Puerto Rican journalist" is a Chicagoan of Puerto Rican descent, Carmelo Meléndez, producer/host of WFLD-TV's weekly half-hour program Our People, Los Hispanos. He's also a contributing columnist to Hispanic Link News Service, which syndicates three columns weekly to 175 newspapers nationally.
Establishment media seem to have an aversion to using authorities other than those "old boys" they anoint and/or have on their own payrolls.
HECTOR MENDOZA ERICKSEN
Hispanic Link News Service
In response to a request from SI special correspondent Connie Lepore, this office issued, on Feb. 17, 1983, a comment by Governor Carlos Romero-Barceló concerning a letter he received in 1979 from Bobby Knight. Nevertheless, in its recent SCORECARD item on Knight, SI omitted all reference to the governor's statement, reporting only that he had "confirmed" receipt of Knight's letter and that Knight had never received a reply.
In the interest of fairness, I request that you publish Governor Romero-Barceló's brief statement, which is as follows:
"Bobby Knight's letter of September 7, 1979, constituted an incomplete apology for his behavior during and after the Eighth Pan American Games.
"Mr. Knight denigrated Puerto Rico's system of justice without proof and without cause. This is inexcusable, especially since our system of justice conforms fully to the Constitution and pertinent laws of the United States.
"Mr. Knight also defied our system of justice, by refusing to appear for sentencing in our courts. This too is inexcusable.
"Finally, Mr. Knight has made a mockery of his own letter, by continuing for more than three years to make derogatory public statements about the people of Puerto Rico and about the institutions of Puerto Rican society. Accordingly, whatever sincere sentiments may have prompted his 1979 letter have long since been contradicted and ridiculed by his personal conduct."
Special Aide to the Governor
San Juan, Puerto Rico
In his article on the University of Houston basketball team (The Big Brothers of Phi Slamma Jamma, March 7), Curry Kirkpatrick stated that "except for a 79-78 squeaker over Southwest Louisiana and a game against Arkansas, which turned out to be a 76-60 rout...the Cougars haven't been tested seriously since December." Not true! The Cougars were seriously tested twice more after December—three times, now, counting their 74-66 victory over Arkansas on March 3. On Jan. 12 at TCU they won 54-51. Only clutch free throws by Akeem Olajuwon saved them. On Feb. 12, in Houston, TCU led by seven points at halftime but couldn't stop Michael Young, who led the Cougars to a 74-66 victory. If TCU hadn't lost star sixth-man Jeff Baker the week before, it might have held on for the win. Furthermore, in the two games against TCU, Olajuwon was held to fewer than 10 points and rode the pine most of the game. Before the Cougars can win the NCAA tournament, which is probable, they face one more obstacle: The Killer Frogs are looking to waylay them in Reunion Arena during the Southwest Conference tournament.
•The Frogs came mighty close to achieving their goal in the tournament, but the Cougars won 62-59 (page 66).—ED.
Concerning Curry Kirkpatrick's statement about the number (131) of dunks made by Houston: "Lock up the women and children and take that, Louisville," Louisville can take Houston anytime. We'll see which team goes farther in the NCAAs.
Red Lion, Pa.
Bruce Newman's article on the Philadelphia 76ers (This May Be One for the Books, Feb. 28) was good, but a special thanks for your cover photo of Julius Erving should go to Jerry Wachter. He captured the Lord of the Rims in full ascension.
That cover reminded me of your Jan. 14, 1974 cover photo of the Doctor. That season he led the New York Nets to the ABA championship. Given Erving's current supporting cast, he may well add the NBA title to his list of accomplishments.
JOHN P. LYNSKEY
I'm still curious as to whether Dr. J can dunk a basketball after taking off from one foot inside the foul circle, as Marshall Coach Bob Zuffelato claimed (It Will Be One Testy Season, Nov. 29). In my opinion, George Kiseda of the Los Angeles Times, (19TH HOLE, Dec. 20) was right. Even though the Doctor is one of the best athletes in the world, I don't think he, or anybody, can do it. But no one will know until you get on with the challenge.
West Bloomfield, Mich.
George Kiseda was absolutely right: Sports journalism loses a little bit more credibility each time nonsense—like his letter—creeps into print. First of all, we aren't talking about a 20-foot-long jump, as Kiseda insisted. Isn't "a foot inside the foul circle" 17 or 18 feet from the rim? And why must he execute the dunk at the apex of the leap? I'd guess that more than 95% of all dunk shots are "dunked" on the way down.
Maybe Marshall Coach Bob Zuffelato hasn't seen Dr. J. dunk from a foot inside the foul circle—although he probably has—but obviously Kiseda didn't see the 76ers play the Knicks in Madison Square Garden in March 1978. I remember watching the Doctor take off from well before the foul line, dunk the ball and then put his left arm out in front of him to keep himself from crashing into the backboard. And Julius must have done it many times in the ABA.
Maybe Julius can't do it now, because he is 33 years old. But when he was younger, a trapeze artist who didn't use a net, Julius Winfield Erving II could have dunked from the top of the key in Death Valley.
WILLIAM SCOTT JETT
North Wildwood, N.J.
•Harvey Pollack, longtime director of press relations for the Sixers, put the question to Erving and other members of the team. Dr. J, in his usual unaffected way, replied that he's sure he has dunked from a foot inside the foul circle a number of times during his career, although he's not so sure he could do it now. Rookie Russ Schoene remembers seeing Erving do it in St. Louis during his ABA days, and Trainer Al Domenico is also certain the Doc has done it. Says Pollack, "Julius can hang in air longer than anybody else in the league, probably longer than anyone who has ever played, and he has long arms to reach out and dunk the ball."—ED.
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.