For years I've listened to people rant about how greed was blocking a playoff system in college football without ever knowing the truth about the power brokers involved. I believed that a playoff was not needed and that the bowls were divvying up their bounty equally among the participating schools. That is, until now. Thanks to SI, I am solidly in the playoff camp.
Ken DeKock, Marion, Iowa
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If SI's phantom playoff scheme (Does It Matter?, Nov. 15) ever became a reality in college football, the sport's unique regular season would be greatly diminished, similar to the way it has been in college basketball. The multiday bowl exuberance that has become a part of the college football landscape would not survive, because each playoff game would be a one-day, in-and-out business trip for the student-athletes. There would be no "bowl week" experiences for the participating teams, and many existing bowls would go out of business because all eyes would be solely on the playoff games. While it's obvious everyone loves college football and wants to get as much out of the season as possible, the price of a playoff significantly outweighs any negligible benefits.
BCS Executive Director
Prairie Village, Kans.
College football teams should be separated from the schools they are supposed to represent and instead be grouped in what they really are: NFL minor leagues. The teams that actually make a profit can stand on their own merit and pay their players accordingly. The teams that drain their schools' endowments can disappear.
Maxwell Kean, Mickleton, N.J.
Note to Division I college presidents: Revenues from a football playoff would be so huge that they would make the NCAA men's basketball-tournament proceeds look like the Friday-night bingo take in a church basement.
Whispering Pines, N.C.
Why should a team that has remained undefeated against top competition all season be required to play three more do-or-die games against lesser teams in order to lay claim to the top prize? How is that fair? All we really need is one extra bowl game to coronate the national champion from among the top four.
Race for the Ages
This year's Vienna City Marathon championship medal also commemorates the Battle of Marathon's 2,500th anniversary (The 2,500-Year-Old Man, Nov. 15). The medal features the image of Pheidippides and hangs from a ribbon adorned with the words Nenikekamen and Wir Haben Gesiegti, which mean "We are victorious" in Greek and German, respectively. It has to be a sobering moment for the winners, to realize the dying runner's last gasp is hanging around their necks in two languages.
Brett Avery, New York City
In 1978, 250 runners from 18 countries assembled in Marathon, Greece, for the first Spirit of Pheidippides Marathon Classic. I was the founder of this event, which represented the first time a non-government-sponsored race was run over the mystical course. It was an absolute thrill to see that this race concept is still alive with a world-class number of entrants. While the Pheidippides legend might be largely mythological, for those who participate in the Father of Marathons, the experience is steeped in reality and overflowing with emotional significance.
West Des Moines, Iowa
In your article on the Athens Marathon, I was surprised that you never mentioned SI's article by James Fixx about Pheidippides (On the Run in Search of a Greek Ghost, Dec. 25, 1978). Every year I read that article to my seventh-grade classes when teaching the triumph of Athenian democracy over the mighty Persian Empire. It made the Battle of Marathon come alive, and it demonstrated that history and mythology were part of our daily lives in popular media.
Michele McIntyre DeMaio
Neil Leifer's classic photo of the 1963 Packers-Bears game (LEADING OFF, Nov. 15) really struck a chord with me. While 1963 is hardly the Dark Ages, my son took one look at the black-and-white photography and thought the picture might be 100 years old. And although that shot is of a much simpler, more innocent time in our history, President Kennedy was assassinated five days after it was taken.
Steve Enke, Fullerton, Calif.
I was really moved by Phil Taylor's article on the young men at Camp Kilpatrick (POINT AFTER, Nov. 15). It would be great if SI could keep its readers updated on their progress as they learn how to become successful human beings.
Juan Carlos Buitron, St. Louis
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COVER: PETER READ MILLER, BOB ROSATO, JED JACOBSOHN
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY SI IMAGING