Thanks to USA Today three 21-year-olds were able to enjoy a whole different world while not missing a summer of U.S. sports.
Spring Valley, N.Y.
In an otherwise excellent account of USA Today's sports reporting, Taaffe misjudged the literary desires of the modern sports reader. He accused sportswriters in recent years of "running long sociological stories at the expense of stats, game summaries and other essentials." He even ventured to call them "Hemingways." As an avid reader of modern sports journalism, I find the current creative trend of sports reporting very thought provoking and entertaining. To capture the essence of a game, the writer must delve into detail and convey to the reader the spirit of the contest rather than the statistics.
THE NCAA'S BYERS
Jack McCallum's In The Kingdom Of The Solitary Man (Oct. 6) comes very close to accurately describing Walter Byers, the brilliant, complex man who has molded the NCAA for the past 35 years.
For those of us who know him well, and that is very possible at the professional level, his accomplishments can scarely be overstated. His intelligence, dedication, courage, toughness, iron will and integrity, along with a carefully fashioned set of operating principles and priorities, have combined to produce, in my opinion, this country's most effective sports administrator of the century.
Oh, sure, those of us charged with p.r. responsibilities through the years—Wayne Duke, me, Tom Hansen, Dave Cawood—have always sought ways to give Walter greater personal exposure, knowing his image would be much different. Early on he told me he used to agonize about what he felt to be unjustified media criticism, but he put it behind him with the self-discipline that is one of his hallmarks.
I think McCallum is right about Byers's successor being someone "willing to stroke a few egos, someone who's willing to schmooze with the college presidents." (He may very well be an ex-college CEO who'll create a new but not necessarily better good-ol'-boy network himself.) But if he does his job right, it won't result in much enhancement of the general perception of the NCAA, because, as Byers knows very well, one of the association's most important functions has been and will continue to be as a lightning rod, diverting criticism of intercollegiate athletics away from member colleges and universities to itself. Walter has always known he could not do the job that has had to be done and win any popularity contests.
Walnut Creek, Calif.
?Hallock was director of NCAA public relations from 1963 to 1968 and commissioner of the Western Athletic Conference ('68 to '71) and the Pac-10 ('71 to '83). Now retired, he is writing a history of the Pac-10.—ED.