A PHOTOGRAPHER'S VIEW
Brian Lanker's photography in the year-end issue (Dec. 23-30) is, hands down, the finest I have seen in my 15 years as a subscriber. The Smithsonian collection (Your Uncle Sam's Attic), the dramatic goggle-eye view of Sportsman of the Year Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Now, More Than Ever, A Winner) and the warm portrait of Snoopy and friend (Good Ol' Charlie Schulz) were priceless.
I enjoyed the photo essay on the Smithsonian collection, especially the two tickets to a heavyweight championship boxing match between Jim Flynn and Jack Johnson. To my knowledge, Flynn is the rarely known answer to a sports trivia question. Please correct me if I am wrong, but isn't Flynn's claim to fame the fact that he was the only man to knock out Jack Dempsey?
CHARLIE BROWN'S CREATOR
Many thanks for Franz Lidz's piece on Charles Schulz. My alltime favorite Peanuts drawing appeared in a Crosby golf tournament preview years ago (That Doggone Crosby, Jan. 8, 1968). It has Snoopy saying, "So there I was leading the field by two shots going into the eighteenth hole, and then they tell me that dogs aren't allowed on the course."
One Peanuts strip I have kept since college has Snoopy—the only tennis player I know of with floppy ears and a tail—practicing the John McEnroe method of self-motivation. "Rats!" he says. "I should've had that point, and I should've had that game and I should've had that set...." But he concludes, "Unfortunately, we're not playing 'should' ves'!"
Which led me to think we should've had Franz Lidz's grown-up profile of Charles Schulz much sooner.
East Northport, N.Y.
I have always believed that, at least once, "Good ol' Charlie Brown" should be named SI's Sportsman of the Year. However, your article has now convinced me that Charles Schulz should share this honor with Charlie.
Logan, W. Va.
THE STATE OF SPORTS
Frank Deford's excellent piece on the proliferation of sports in this country was right on the mark (No Longer A Cozy Corner, Dec. 23-30). How many even above-average sports fans can recall which college teams played in last year's four major bowl games, much less which ones played in the Liberty, Fiesta, Holiday, Cherry and so on?
I tip my hat to Frank Deford. To my mind, today's athletes are overspecialized, greedy, pampered brats. What ever happened to the ones who could throw a tight spiral 40 yards, nail a 15-foot turnaround jumper, drive a golf ball 250 yards, drill a down-the-line backhand and take pride in doing any of the above without demanding cash?
Big Rapids, Mich.
As a creative writer, Frank Deford excels. As a commentator on modern society, he falls short. Has he said anything but "bring back the Good Old Days"?