As you say, the Russians understand and want to maintain the status quo.
CLIFFORD B. FAGAN
President, Basketball Federation of the U.S.
As volunteers teaching basketball in a Peace Corps program in Montevideo, we recently had the opportunity to observe the world championship. Uruguay worked hard to make it a success, and the attention attracted by the event was evidence of the growing interest in this sport the world over.
It is unfortunate that, as founders of the sport, we in the U.S. do not show the same interest. The mediocre team sponsored by the AAU finished fourth behind Russia, Yugoslavia and Brazil, all of whom brought good teams, worthy of international competition.
Aside from the poor play, what disturbed us even more was the poor sportsmanship and outright rudeness displayed by the American team. The coach and players were constantly harassing and complaining to the referees during the games and, by such ploys as trying to change men already designated in a jump-ball or free-throw situation, the coach sought undeserved advantages. After losing the first game against Yugoslavia, one U.S. player was seen in a newspaper photo the next day making an obscene gesture at the crowd. And during the singing of the Uruguayan national anthem in the closing ceremonies several members of the U.S. team were joking with their teammates.
The hissing and booing (in contrast to the cheers and applause that greeted the other teams) that the Americans received as they left the gymnasium were justly deserved. The American team destroyed much of what we have tried to teach in our two years here—how to play good basketball and, more important, how one should conduct oneself both on and off the court.
Must this petty quarrel continue between the NCAA and the AAU? Must a coach and team of such poor caliber and preparation represent the U.S. in international competition? The U.S. has every reason to be proud of its basketball and the example it offers to the rest of the world. We feel it is only just to demand, therefore, that U.S. basketball officials also share in this pride and strive to make sure our country is represented in any international competition with the very best the sport has to offer.
JAMES C. LOUSTALOT
TIMOTHY N. MURPHY
EDWARD J. SCHWARZ
MICHAEL L. COOK