THE GAMBLING SICKNESS
Congratulations on your special report on gambling (The Biggest Game In Town, March 10) and on the other, similar stands you have taken to try to preserve some elements of sanity and honesty in sports. One has to wonder why it is left to a publication to point out what the ostrich commissioners and jellyfish officials of sport ignore until a scandal hits them in the face.
After reading your special report on gambling, which I found enlightening and tragic at the same time, I can't help believing that we should treat this sickness as we do alcohol and drug abuse. Thanks for reporting what most newspapers seem to leave out.
Seaside Heights, N.J.
I have read SI for many years—my father was an original subscriber—but never have I been so impressed by an issue as I was by the one containing the special report on gambling. That took guts on your part. It is a subject that has needed to be explored for a long time. As an ex-gambler, I could relate to everything that was said. People need to know how gambling has ruined not only sports, but families and friendships as well.
As an Ivy League grad who worked two years in the sports information office of my school, I remember answering countless calls from "fans" regarding the physical condition of the hoop team for upcoming games. "Hi. I'm an alumni (sic)," they'd say. "Everybody healthy?"
The Ivy League is not big time when compared with the Big East, the Big Eight or any of the other bigs. It seems to be relatively aboveboard but nonetheless remains a target of gambling.
New York City
As an avid Ohio State football fan, I was mainly interested in the piece by Armen Keteyian on Art Schlichter (The Straight-Arrow Addict). It shows just what gambling can do to an individual. I wish Schlichter the best of luck in the future, and I hope to see him playing pro football again someday soon.
JOHN T. BOWMAN
Congratulations on an excellent article on the plight of Catholic universities (A Heavenly Game? March 3). Frank Deford brought to the fore many pressing problems confronting higher educational institutions, particularly religious institutions, today. However, there were some glaring omissions.
You neglected to mention the story of former Notre Dame football coach Gerry Faust, a fine Catholic gentleman, respected by all. While Faust was at Notre Dame, the Irish were cited by the College Football Association as the national leader in graduation rates for football players three out of five years. However, he failed to win any national championships, and he was practically ridden out of town on a rail. There can be no question where the priorities lie!
As for basketball, how could you fail to mention Michael Graham, formerly of Georgetown, and Walter Berry of St. John's? Both have had problems meeting academic requirements.
You mentioned half a dozen scuffles at Georgetown. To which month were you referring? And how about the ceremonies after Georgetown won the 1984 national title? It should have been an embarrassment to educators nationwide to witness the inability of some of those players to put together complete sentences.
Yes, it is time for major rehabilitation of our institutions regarding sports, and it should be the religious schools out in the forefront, showing the way.
After reading Deford's article, I asked myself the same question: Can Catholic colleges pursue the almighty sports dollar and answer to the Almighty at the same time? My response is a definite yes. I have been a season-ticket holder at Villanova for four years. I had the chance to see the team win the national championship last April, and I can't tell you how much school spirit and pride accompanies a class basketball program like that. After our players had won the championship, people often remarked how well they presented themselves on camera, in interviews, etc. This was not an accident and can be attributed to the quality education Villanova offers. It would be nice if all colleges and universities heeded Villanova's example.
CHARLES P. DONNELLY
Huntington Station, N.Y.
As a graduate of a Jesuit university (Scranton) and a former basketball player (Division III), I was offended by the article.
Seattle University's success without a major athletics program is great, but it should be taken with a grain of salt. Villanova has shown us another way. Most Catholic schools, as De-ford states, "keep sports in better perspective than their secular counterparts," so why condemn them for doing a good job? It is obvious they can compete. I do not know the Villanova or Georgetown graduation rates, but it seems from the article that they are high. How can the graduating of young men (and women) athletes with the valuable education from a Catholic school be sinful, no matter why those athletes were first considered for the college? I do not advocate bending the rules, but Catholic schools win even when their teams lose, because the student-athlete wins.
MICHAEL S. CHOLKO
In response to remarks by Frank Deford and Msgr. John Tracy Ellis, thousands of American Roman Catholics are proud of our Catholic education and of our ability to think. I think that while an article in SI examining the role of sports at Roman Catholic colleges and universities is appropriate, to use that article as a vehicle for generalizations and prejudiced remarks directed against Roman Catholics and their educational institutions is neither appropriate nor fair.
It is pointless to try to refute Deford's points because you can't budge a bigot, and besides, questions of academic quality are matters of opinion. However, it would be fair to your readers to let them know that Joyce Kilmer is not the only American writer of Catholic background to attain notice in the years preceding World War II. Others include Eugene O'Neill, F. Scott Fitzgerald and, in a different sense, Ernest Hemingway, who (like Evelyn Waugh, cited on the British side by Deford) was a self-proclaimed convert to Roman Catholicism.
Deford seems to have a bone to pick with the Catholic church. Why did your editors let him pick it in SI?
ROBERT L. McLAUGHLIN
The Bronx, N.Y.
I take exception to the article. I find it a negative, biased, anti-Catholic treatise hiding inside the pages of a reputable sports magazine. I can only conclude that Deford's alma mater must have been one of those to fall by the wayside in Villanova's "Miracle Year."
•Deford's alma mater, Princeton, finished sixth (7-7, 11-15 overall) in the Ivy League and was not invited to the NCAAs last season.—ED.
IN THE COUNTING HOUSE
The article Dizzy Days At The Arbitration Table (March 3) by Hank Hersch should have been entitled "Wacky Days..." instead, because of the sorry state of baseball's salary structure. As someone who studies baseball history, I recently received some old newspaper clippings, one of which was headlined HUGE SALARIES PAID TO PLAYERS. The article states that baseball magnates expected to pay out more than $800,000 for the combined services of all the National and American League players for the 1911 season. That means the Royals' Bret Saberhagen, who was awarded $925,000 in arbitration, will make more dollars this season than all the major-leaguers would receive together 75 years ago.
Kansas City, Mo.
I've been a Red Sox fan for as long as I can remember, but it's tough to feel bad that Wade Boggs lost at arbitration and was stuck with $1.35 million. Give me a break!
Lieut. (j.g.), MSC, USNR
On the Atlantic Ocean
You've heard of Live Aid and Farm Aid. How about Boggs Aid, to help Wade Boggs after his devastating loss at the arbitration table?
East Longmeadow, Mass.
I commend Bob Kravitz on a fine article on Pittsburgh superstar Mario Lemieux (The Talk Of The Town, March 3). Comparisons between Mario and Wayne Gretzky were being made here even last year. Besides a difference in size, there are two other big differences between them. Mario takes fewer shots and he doesn't have any potential Hall of Famers skating next to him. Mario's line-mates aren't household names, but they are good, hard workers. Around here, that's all that counts, right? See ya, Wayne!
DALE W. HAJAS
Too often the talents of those student-athletes who attend schools that are not big-time athletic powers go unnoticed. Congratulations to Roger Jackson for recognizing the outstanding skills and touching story of Miami (Ohio) University's Ron Harper (Miamian Without A Vice, March 3). But why does the NCAA feel compelled to discourage those athletes who are harmlessly working to benefit needy charities, in this case. Harper, who lent his name to the Harper Valley rap song, proceeds from which were to have gone to a speech and hearing clinic? Aren't there more pressing intercollegiate athletic problems requiring microscopic scrutiny?
Let me get this straight: The NCAA puts Indiana's Steve Alford on a one-game suspension for posing (fully clothed!) for a charity calendar and prohibits the sales of a record endorsed by Miami's Ron Harper.
I'm glad Jan Kemp found time to help tidy up a few small matters concerning the University of Georgia's athletic and academic program. Why, I guess the NCAA just can't watch over every little thing, now, can it!
ALAN J. MILLER
In John Iacono's photograph of Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight (The Biggest Game In Town, March 10), I noticed that the design on Knight's sweater is quite unusual. I can make out a baseball player in full swing, with 61 above his bat and '61 below. Would this have anything to do with Roger Maris's record-breaking 61 home runs in 1961?
DOUGLAS M. HEITHOFF
•Yes. The sweater was a gift to Knight from Maris, a friend.—ED.
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