Congratulations to John Underwood, for his excellent, penetrating analysis of The True Crisis (May 20) confronting the American sports scene. Such articles as this are necessary to arouse the public to the realization that sports must be anchored to the integrity of every individual participant, in the hope that "the American pastimes" do not become merely another facet of big business.
RONALD K. BENNINGTON
I appreciate your well-written article on the possibilities of ruining sports if the powers that be are not ever on the alert. Baseball survived because the magnates were smart enough to pick Judge Landis to supervise its activities. But when the magnates thought Old Mountain was getting too severe, they asked him to tone down. The judge replied that he would tear up his $50,000 contract and step out before he would be compromised. Result: the magnates took the hint.
Currently, Football Commissioner Pete Rozelle is in a similar predicament—the penalties he dealt Hornung and Karras appear very severe compared with the extent of the infractions, but were Rozelle to overlook this who knows what further liberties would be taken. My opinion is that Rozelle acted correctly.
WALTER (TUGBOAT) ANDERSON
Jackson Heights, N.Y.
Why supposedly good Americans would censure Mr. Rozelle for trying to protect and save the great game of football, I wouldn't know. I wish him all good things.
E. M. NESBITT, D.D.
I am 15 years old, and Paul Hornung is a hero to me. In no way has his brightness been dulled by the gambling incident. Gambling to me and other kids is not a crime that a person should be punished for. Kids make small bets on games (like a quarter), and when we grow up we'll probably still bet.
The question is: Is it wrong to bet on games? As far as I'm concerned, Paul Hornung played his best in every game and gave the fans their money's worth. Is this wrong? Of course not! The fans are the ones who are going to be punished by the decision forbidding him to play.
JAMES VAN BUSKIRK
?Jim, the question is: Is it wrong to bet on games when you have agreed to observe a rule against doing so?—ED.
Your loudest battle cry is "example to our youth," but how many children today really do worship their sports heroes? The adult fan, what of his worship? Mr. Underwood believes him to be a passionate, idealistic lover, whose tender sensibilities must be protected at all costs. I wonder if Mr. Underwood has ever sat in the middle of the standard group of sports snipers? We are little people, we members of the great god public, so little that most of us cannot really enjoy the success of anybody bigger than we. We draw up a list of rigid superhuman specifications for the playing performances of our athletes, and when they fail by a tiny margin to meet those specifications we abuse them mercilessly. We also set up similarly unrealistic moral specifications. When a man fails to meet those we pretend to be shocked and hurt, we may even believe we are, but I believe that secretly or subconsciously many of us are delighted, our own wretchedly imperfect egos never felt so good.
K. C. MACLEOD
Isn't there enough talk about point spreads, shaving points and all the rest of it without your idolizing a guy like Hornung?
My hat is off to Pete Rozelle. He is the one who should have made the cover.