I am a big Frank Deford fan, but I think he missed the boat with his commentary on Wayne Gretzky and hockey in the U.S. (POINT AFTER, Nov. 28). I feel that Gretzky will give hockey a more enduring lift than Pelè gave soccer in the mid-1970s. Soccer did not have the elements necessary to keep the American sports fan excited. Although the clock runs continuously, the action is sporadic. By contrast, hockey is a game of virtually nonstop action. Having Gretzky in Los Angeles makes him more visible to American sports fans, and if that will make them more likely to attend a hockey game, that's fine.
GEORGE L. HENSCHEL
IONA ON VALVANO
Curry Kirkpatrick's story in your college basketball preview on Sonny Vaccaro, the Nike shoe rep (The Old Soft Shoe, Nov. 16), contains comments by North Carolina State coach Jim Valvano regarding the conditions under which he worked while he was at Iona from 1976 to '80. His remarks serve no purpose other than to make the article a bit more entertaining and more complimentary to Valvano's coaching skills. One wonders what a responsible editor could have been doing when he read this passage and decided to allow such a denigration of a specific institution. You have my assurance that Mr. Valvano was provided with all the tools (yes, even the shoes) needed to gain the success that he enjoyed at Iona. In addition, he alone was not responsible for Iona's success, which has continued since his departure, thanks to the efforts of many of his contemporaries.
MICHAEL T. CHRISTY
Vice-President, Student Affairs
Roger Penske has been instrumental in upgrading the safety and the professional image of Indy Car racing (His Time Is Money, Nov. 21). He also has played a major role in getting CART to schedule races on a good mixture of tracks, including ovals, superspeedways, street circuits and road circuits. But Penske's constant attempts to find what his driver Mark Donohue once called the "unfair advantage" have made Indy Car competition dull. Because of inequities in spending and the inability of teams to make technological advances with equal speed, success in any form of racing is usually limited to a few teams. Still, it is unfortunate that the premier racing series in the U.S. cannot be more entertaining. If Penske would stop outspending everyone, then we would really see something. Unfortunately, he is too selfish to want 25 Indy Cars capable of winning a race.
SCOTT J. SAUM
Although I enjoyed the article on the USC endowment program for its football team (That Old School Spirit, Nov. 28), as a UCLA graduate I took offense at the comment by Dr. Charles Elerding's son Chuck. He said, "You go to UCLA for four years, but you're a Trojan forever." Well, Chuck, all that means to me is that at least we graduate on time.
TODD KAY, UCLA '84
GET IT RIGHT
With the awarding of the Heisman Trophy to Barry Sanders (Big Hand for a Quiet Man, Dec. 12), readers might like to know that the Heisman family (John Heisman, for whom the trophy was named, was my grandfather's first cousin) does not pronounce the s as a z, as many announcers do. Instead, the first syllable ("Heis") rhymes with "ice."
Regarding your article on the resurgence of St. Mary's football (SIDELINE, Nov. 28) and your mention of the Gaels' great center, Larry Bettencourt, I thought readers might be interested to see these two pictures. One is of Larry (right, above) as he appeared in 1927. The other is of his grandson, Larry III, who is currently a fine receiver here at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa. Larry III, a junior, finished the season as the team's top pass catcher, with 31 catches for 414 yards and three touchdowns.
Larry Sr. went on from St. Mary's to play three years (1928, '31, '32) for the St. Louis Browns baseball team as an outfielder-third baseman and one season ('33) for the Green Bay Packers as a center, and then moved to New Orleans, where he worked as a shipyard superintendent. Larry III attended Holy Cross High School in New Orleans before coming to Geneva. His father, Larry Jr., coached football at Holy Cross High (1976-86) and now heads one of the city's recreation programs. Young Larry is carrying on a fine family tradition.
Assistant Football Coach
STEPHAN ELKO STUDIO
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