THE ALL-DECADE TEAM
During the summer the first thing I do upon receiving SI is read Peter Gammons's INSIDE BASEBALL. I was flabbergasted when I saw his pick for Shortstop of the Decade (Oct. 2). Ozzie Smith is among the best fielders in the game. He is also a good base stealer and exciting to watch. But if I were a general manager, I would rather have Cal Ripken Jr. Ripken has had eight straight seasons with 20 or more home runs, 80 or more RBIs, 80 or more runs scored and 25 or more doubles. As for fielding, Rip had only eight errors in 162 games this year; Smith booted 17. And Rip hasn't missed a game since early in the 1982 baseball season.
J. WILLIAM COOK IV
Honorable mention is not good enough for Boston's Dwight Evans. His offensive and defensive feats and his consistency have been overshadowed only by his humanity and his integrity. I find it hard to displace any of the three outfielders named to this team, and I know how Gammons would feel about naming a DH (ouch!), but omitting Evans only underscores the fact that he has been the Most Underrated Player of the Decade.
JOHN C. MONAHAN
Why Gary Carter as Catcher of the Decade? He's a "me" player. Bob Boone would be a better choice. Also, how about splitting first base between Eddie Murray and Don Mattingly?
Ryne Sandberg over Willie Randolph at second? You must be joking.
BIG-TIME SOLUTIONS (CONT.)
Rick Telander's article on big-time college football hit the nail on the head. But perhaps even more revealing was the reaction of Michigan coach Bo Schembechler to the article. He told The Capital Times of Madison, Wis., " Rick Telander is a loser. He's been a loser all his life." Nice response, Bo.
Here's a coach who, through the sweat and toil of young men who commit four or five years of their lives to football, has generated millions of dollars for his athletic department. Yet he won't even respond to the obvious flaws in the system. Schembechler may win games, but when it comes to dealing with the problems in the system, Bo knows hypocrisy.
Indeed, something must be done to curb the exploitation of college athletes. However, I'm not sure Rick Telander is on the right track. He fails to provide the most telling statistic of all—the percentage of college athletes who make a living in the pros. It's pretty low—only 2.7% for basketball and 2.4% for football. His proposal for an Age Group Professional Football League would only encourage the pursuit of this improbable dream and leave many more exploited athletes without a college education. Let's remember that an academic scholarship is pretty good compensation for services rendered on the football field. The hypocrisy of college football is not the lack of payment but the lack of commitment to education on the university's part.
DAVID J. EVELD
That SI is willing to print articles like Telander's is the reason I have subscribed for the past 22 years. While I might not agree with all his solutions, he has obviously done his homework and can back up every one of his assertions. I have always maintained that it is ridiculous to call the gift of an education to a football player a scholarship. The athletes are rarely scholars, and they are not wooed by universities for their academic abilities. A scholarship is the waiving of tuition for someone who wants to pursue an education.
I suspect that this article will generate more heated response than any you have published in years, and well it should.
After reading Telander's essay, I reflected upon my experience as a student at Wake Forest in the early 1980s. When I was a freshman, the football players lived in a vintage-1950s dorm on the quad, as did most other students. Some of us even had freshman players and walk-ons as roommates. On the field, the Deacons played well but were generally overmatched. We cheered for them anyway, because many were our friends.